House For Sale
Grand East Texas estate of Pilgrim's Pride founder is up for auction
A magnificent 18,327-square-foot estate in Pittsburg, Texas, that belonged to the founder of Pilgrim's Pride is up for sale via an auction. Starting price: $2,999,999.
Lonnie "Bo" Pilgrim passed away in 2017; his wife, Patty, died late last year. The Pilgrims' three children knew that selling such a highly specialized estate built on Bo's chicken fortune — 43-plus acres located 125 miles east of Dallas — would be a challenge. So they opted to do what more and more owners of luxury homes are doing these days: put it up for auction.
The auction is now online and ends on October 25.
Dubbed "Cluckingham Palace," the estate is on South Greer Boulevard, the main road of Pittsburg. The town of Pittsburg, population about 4,500, while best known as Pilgrim's home, is also the home of racing legend Carroll Shelby and the birthplace of James R. Cavender's Boot City. It was named after William Harrison Pitts.
The Pilgrim mansion has six bedrooms, 10 and a half baths, exercise room, formals, quarters, media room, and chickens etched in every corner. There's also a huge indoor swimming pool and spa that was patterned after the famous Greenbrier Spa in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
"Mrs. Pilgrim visited the Greenbrier and phoned Richard Drummond Davis from the spa that she wanted their indoor pool to look just like the Greenbrier's," says listing agent Kyle Crews with Allie Beth Allman & Associates.
Drummond Davis designed the home, built by Steve Thornton for an estimated $15 million, in 1992-1993. The mansion and grounds are now valued at more than $8 million.
The heavily wooded grounds include trails, statues, smooth green fields beckoning a soccer game or a horse hunt, and a pond brimming with fish.
Cluckingham Palace, so named by the locals, was literally right off this main drag, but elegantly gated and set back from the road with those vast acres behind it. The Pilgrims lived in a relatively modest 1965-era home on three acres about three houses down from Cluckingham prior to building it — that was where they raised their three children.
The legendary Lonnie "Bo" Pilgrim made his fortune off chickens. Born in Pine, Texas, on May 8, 1928, he was the fourth of seven children and was called Bo by relatives. His father owned one of the only two stores in the east Texas town. Bo's older brother, Aubrey, bought the feed store in Pittsburg, which was the beginning of their empire. The company grew into a poultry products powerhouse, supplying chickens to everyone from Kentucky Fried Chicken to Walmart to Wendy’s. At its height, the company had operations in 17 states and Mexico.
You’ve likely already read about the property. What the articles do not convey is the incredible detail of the home, the cleanliness — every corner was spotless, as if it were brand new, fresh from the contractor — and the vastness.
There are chickens and roosters everywhere, from the kitchen tiles to the laundry room wet hanging rod. They were in the carpets, the filigrees, chiseled into the elaborate ceiling molding trim.
The home is huge, but the rooms still feel warm and cozy, with the exception of the indoor pool which really did remind me of The Greenbrier.
The guest bedrooms looked just like those in your grandmother’s house — floral, but with full marble en suite baths. Patty Pilgrim’s master bath alone is a sea of rare pink granite.
Carol Bell-Walton, a Dallas resident with Pittsburg roots — her grandfather was the town mailman — has a cabin in Pittsburg. She tells me what a fantastic town it is. There is a winery, Los Pinos Ranch vineyards, there is a Kangaroo farm in nearby Mt. Vernon (not public, a vet raises them), and there are lakes everywhere most notably Lake Bob Sandlin.
Two state parks are within 20 miles of Pittsburg, named for William Morris Pitts. But Pittsburg’s biggest claim to fame is its hotlinks, Witness Park, and the Prayer Tower, which the Pilgrims gifted to the town: four carved bells imported from France which chime hourly.
A version of this story originally was published on CandysDirt.com.