Stephen F. Austin State University

Starr Family Home/Maplecroft

407 W. Travis, Marshall

Owned by Texas Parks and Wildlife

Sanborn Maps:

National Register File

Maplecroft was listed on the National Register in 1979.

TX Historical Marker

Maplecroft recieved a TX Historical Marker in 1963.

Architectural Survey

Architectural Survey

• Description: The 1871 Starr home is a two-story, frame, late Greek Revival structure with some Victorian styling. The Victorian elements can be seen in the balcony balustrade with bracketing along the cornices, and the 2/2 double hung sash windows. The front façade has five bays and the main entrance is a single door with transom and headlights. The front porch is supported by thin classical columns and simple railing. The four other structures on the property are also late Greek Revival and include a one-story schoolhouse, a one story house, a water tower, and a garage.

• Significance: The Starr home and its extant outbuildings is one of the best preserved homes in Harrison County due to the fact that it is run by the Texas Historical Commission.

Historical Background

Maplecroft, or the Starr home as it is more often referred too, was built in 1871 by James Franklin Starr, who moved to Harrison County with his wife and parents from Nacogdoches, Texas in 1870. Originally from Georgia, the Starr family moved towards Texas with the promise of land in mind. Due to the Texas Revolution, they settled in Nacogdoches for a time before moving on to Harrison County. During 1834, James father, Captain Franklin Jefferson Starr, arrived first in Texas and for a brief time partnered with Colonial William B. Travis to practice law. This partnership ended once Travis was given command of Texas forces but resulted in the Starr family acquiring Travis's diary which they donated to the archives collection of the University of Texas library in 1932. (Dallas Morning News, "Tolbert's Texas: How That Travis Diary Was Saved," by Frank X. Tolbert, December 7, 1960.)

In 1844, Franklin Starr, along with Nathaniel Amory, formed the Starr and Amory Land Agency in Nachogdoches. "The agency was a success form the beginning and served as a bureau for advertising Texas to prospective settlers from all parts of the United States." (Linda Sybert Hudson, "STARR, JAMES HARPER," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed March 30, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.) After James Franklin Starr, oldest son of Captain Franklin Starr, graduated from University of Virginia, he returned to Nacogdoches with his new wife, Clara Fry Clapp, and joined his father's agency. Due to the telegraph and the railroad, the Starrs relocated their business in 1870 to Marshall, which had become the center of communication within East Texas. Two years later the father and son, along with C.M. Raquet and E.J. Fry, established an early Marshall bank in 1872, (James Harper Starr: Financier of the Republic of Texas, John Nathan Cravens, Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Austin, 1950, p. 169.)

Shortly after the Starrs arrived in Marshall, Franklin and his wife Pamela Orne purchased all of Block 52 and part of Block 51 from Reverend Edwin A. Wagner in 1870. (Harrison County Deed Records, Vol. W. Pg. 373,, filed August 3, 1870.) Two weeks later the sold Block 52 to their son, James F. Starr. (Harrison County Deed Records, Vol. X, Pg. 24, filed August 17, 1870.) Soon thereafter, construction on Maplecroft began. In the meantime, James and Clara lived with James' parents in their home, "Rosemont" which is located behind Maplecroft today. The 1880 census records seven residents in the completed Maplecroft, James and Clara, along with five of their six daughters. (1880 Census, Mircrofilm Roll T-9, 1309, p. 353.)

After James Starr died in 1902, Clara remained in the home until her death in 1925. The home was left to their youngest daughter Ruth Starr Blake who renovated and modernized the home. When Ruth died in 1969, the home inherited by her only niece, Clara Pope Willoughby. During her lifetime, Clara devoted her time to the service of Texas and in 1982 she was appointed to a six year term on the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission to help organize the first juvenile probation system in Texas. Due to her efforts Harrison County's first juvenile detention center was named Willoughby Detention Center. (Marshall News Messenger, August 17, 1983.) In 1976, Clara Willoughby deeded the Starr home to the State of Texas to be used by the Parks and Wildlife Department so that it could be preserved for posterity. (Harrison County Deed Records, Vol. 805, Pg. 562, filed November 30, 1976.) As of 2013, the home is now under the ownership and care of the Texas Historical Commission and is open for tours.

The Starr Family Home Web Site:

Starr House Photos