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The Starr Family Mansion

by Archie P. McDonald, PhD
Archie McDonald, PhD

Old houses grace the towns and cities of East Texas. Some have survived by miraculous good fortune and some are nurtured along by generations of caring owners who cherish them.

All are testimony to an earlier way of life, but only a few are associated with the movers and shakers of previous eras. A good example of the latter is the Starr Family Mansion in Marshall.

This structure is associated with a family of prominence in the political and economic development of our state and region for the whole of the nineteenth century.

The first Starr family member associated with Texas, Franklin J. Starr, moved here from Ohio in 1834. For a while Starr partnered in the practice of law with William Barret Travis. He ended up in Nacogdoches as a result of the Runaway Scrape, or the hasty departure to the east in front of Santa Anna's Mexican army during the Texas Revolution in the Spring of 1836.

James Harper Starr joined his brother Franklin and soon was involved in public affairs. He served as land commissioner in Nacogdoches County and as President Mirabeau B. Lamar's secretary of the treasury before relocating in Marshall.

Starr purchased Rosemont, the home of the Rev. A.F. Wagner, for his residence, and over time the property became a family compound. His son, James Franklin Starr, helped manage the family's business interest. He purchased a portion of the estate for his own residence, Maplecroft -- now known as the Starr Mansion. James Franklin Starr and wife Clara had six daughters. As each daughter married, Starr built a home for her new family on the estate.

Several of these buildings are extant: a portion of Rosemont, three of the houses Starr constructed for his daughters, a school house, and proud Maplecroft.

The Starr Mansion compound remained in family possession until 1985, then was transferred to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. Portions of the property can be rented for parties, bed & breakfast service, or tours.

Old houses vary greatly depending on the care they receive. This old house is in excellent condition, and it offers a wonderful insight into the way East Texans lived not so long ago.


All Things Historical
April 1-7, 2001
(Archie P. McDonald is Director of the East Texas Historical Association and author or editor of over 20 books on Texas)

The Starr Family State Historic Site
407 W. Travis Street - 903-935-3044
Hours: Weds to Mon, 9 to 5; Sunday 1 to 5.
See Marshall, Texas

See Update:
A story of two homes by Bob Bowman 12-12-10
Two historic buildings in East Texas made news recently. One story was sad; the other joyous...

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