W. H. Stark House

The W. H. Stark House is a fully restored, 14,000-square-foot (1,300 m2) Victorian home located on the corner between Green Avenue and Sixth Street in Orange, Texas.


The W. H. Stark House was home to William Henry and Miriam Lutcher Stark, who spent a lifetime collecting rare and unique decorative objects. Miriam Melissa Lutcher Stark moved to Orange with her parents, Henry Jacob Lutcher and Frances Ann Lutcher, in the late 1870s. As co-owner of the Lutcher and Moore Lumber Company, Henry Jacob Lutcher, along with his wife, began the philanthropic dynasty that continues to benefit the Orange community today.

In 1881 Miriam M. Lutcher married William Henry Stark, who made his fortune in banking, oil, rice, insurance, and the timber industry. They moved into their home in 1894 and occupied it until 1936. They were passionate collectors and instilled in their son, H. J. Lutcher Stark, a lifetime dedication to philanthropy and the arts.

When the Stark family moved into their new home, W. H. Stark was forty-three, Miriam was thirty-five, and their son Lutcher was seven. They were the only family to inhabit the house. When W. H. and Miriam Stark died in 1936, Lutcher Stark closed the house, which remained vacant until 1970 when restoration began. Restoration continued for ten years until the house was opened to the public for tours on February 10, 1981.

Architecture and Decorative Highlights

Construction on the W. H. Stark House began on June 29, 1893, with completion in 1894. The house is classified in the Queen Anne architectural style, which is characterized by long sloping roofs, second floor balconies, Jacobean chimneys, wide verandas, and octagonal or round towers.

Interior ceilings are 12 feet (3.7 m) high on the first floor, 11 feet (3.4 m) high on the second floor, and 10 ½ feet (3.2 m) high on the third floor. Exterior walls are ten inches (25 cm) thick with two layers of diagonal storm sheeting. Interior double walls are sixteen inches (41 cm) thick. The floor plan is duplicated on two of the three stories and includes a concrete basement, which is unique in Southeast Texas.

Cypress was chosen as the basic material for the structure of the W. H. Stark House because of the damp conditions in the area. Longleaf yellow pine was used for the intricate design work. Turned pieces were formed on a foot-operated machine lathe, and each board had to be cut and measured for a precise fit. All framework was selected from the Lutcher and Moore Lumber Mills.

The 14,000-square-foot (1,300 m2) home appears much as it did in the 1920s with fifteen rooms and three stories of original family furniture, carpets, silver, antique porcelains, and American Brilliant Period cut glass. The ceiling in the Music Room is oil painted on canvas by artist E. Theo Behr and features an allegorical scene with cherubs. The house also holds many unique objects, including a one-of-a-kind sterling silver Gorham Manufacturing Company tea service in the Louis XVI style, a rare copy of the Napoleon death mask, and decorative silver and china.

The W. H. Stark House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark by the Texas Historical Commission.

The Nelda C. and H. J. Lutcher Stark Foundation

The W. H. Stark House is owned and operated by the Nelda C. and H. J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, a private, non-profit foundation established in 1961 in Orange, Texas. It aims to improve the quality of life in Southeast Texas by encouraging, promoting, and assisting education, the arts, and health and human services. It carries out its mission through the Stark Museum of Art, the W. H. Stark House, Lutcher Theater, and Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. These programs offer the community a rich resource for study and enjoyment of the arts, history, and nature.

Building Activity

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