Tuesday, April 29, 2008

W.H. Stark House

All I can say is WOW!

I lived in a 2700 square foot Queen Anne Victorian home as a child but it was nothing like this!

This is the 14,000 square foot, 15 room family home of William and Miriam Stark in beautiful Orange, Texas. Construction began in 1893 and the family moved in upon completion in 1894. This is an excellent example of the Victorian/Eastlake homes built in this era by lumber and other industrial barons.

Mr. and Mrs. Stark lived in and enjoyed this beautiful home with their family until their deaths, within in a month or so of each other, in 1936. There is a beautiful floor by floor, room by room virtual tour on the W.H. Stark House website.

As you browse through the online tour, you will notice that the Starks were both avid collectors and loved to display their finds. There are several gallery spaces on each floor. Be sure to click on the pictures displayed on these pages to check out the beautiful artifacts that have been so lovingly preserved.

One collection that especially caught my eye was Mrs. Stark's fans and purses. Here is a link to the North Storage Room on the Third Floor. As an avid knitter and seamstress, I am drawn to historical clothing and vintage accessories. This is an amazing collection!

Another unique collection is housed in the Tower Room. Housed here are artifacts of Napolean Bonaparte. Don't worry the death mask is a replica, not the real thing!

I have only scratched the surface of this website. I can't imagine the treasures that are still left to find in the house. If walls could talk, I'm sure that we would hear about heartwarming family celebrations, heartbreaking losses and the travels of the Starks.

In 1976, only 5 short years into the complete renovation, this home was designated as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. This restoration process took 10 years to complete and was addressed systematically. You can look at the listings of what was completed both on the interior and exterior here.

Since 1981, tours of the home have been encouraged. Reservations and guided tours are suggested. The Stark Foundation respectfully requests that visiting guests be at least 10 years of age. They would also like you to be aware that the home is three stories and stairs are involved in the tour. Please contact the W. H. Stark House at 409.883.0871 for reservations, tours and special events.

Come and see the Texas version of the opulent 1920s for yourself!

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