Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Relive the history at The W.H. Stark House's First Floor Friday on Aug. 11

A gorgeous crystal box to hold gloves, intricately cut-glass almond bowls, a glass vinaigrette brooch – these are just some of the rare and interesting items you can see at The W.H. Stark House's First Floor Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 11. The event is open to the public, and admission is free.

The Stark family collected many things. Throughout the House, guests can see the art, rare books and treasures from their travels. One of Miriam Lutcher Stark's prized collections is currently on view in "Brilliant: Cut Glass from The W.H. Stark House." Over 40 pieces of American Brilliant Cut Glass made from 1876 to 1917 have been curated into a gorgeous exhibition on view on the second floor of the Carriage House.

"The pieces of American Brilliant Cut Glass in Miriam's collection are so interesting," said The W.H. Stark House Education and Programming Manager Tabitha Henderson. "It is fascinating to think about what they actually used the pieces for in their daily lives. Imagine Miriam wearing this gorgeous crystal vinaigrette brooch and serving her friends almonds in these fabulous cut-glass bowls."

 A vinaigrette brooch is a small filigree container used to hold a perfume-soaked sponge or piece of cotton. Vinaigrette jewelry was worn by ladies during the Victorian era to mask unpleasant odors in their environments.

The crystal pieces from the top glass cutting companies such as T.G. Hawkes & Co., Pairpoint Manufacturing Company and H.P. Sinclaire & Company, among others, have been arranged into an impressive display that should not be missed. Having the pieces carefully curated in cases in the exhibition allows guests to get up close and further examine the intricate details of each one.

Stark spent years filling her home with items to reflect both her family's status and her personal style. Her collection of cut-glass pieces remains among the largest in the southern United States. Many of the items on view once adorned the dining room table, others were used at mealtimes by family and friends, some held fresh cut flowers to decorate rooms throughout the house, others provided light for reading in the evening hours.

At First Floor Friday, the public is invited to walk the grounds and view the first floor of the historic home, which includes the library, music room, dining room and breakfast room/office, and the Carriage House for the second-floor cut glass exhibit. Materials for a self-guided experience are provided for all visitors. Underwritten by the Stark Foundation, timed tickets are available at the Carriage House on a first-come, first-served basis. This experience is appropriate for individuals and groups of six people or less. Visitors must be able to climb stairs to access the house entrance and second floor exhibition. Please note these spaces are not wheelchair or stroller accessible.

Entrance to The W.H. Stark House is free of charge, and the last entry is at 1:30 p.m.

Future dates for First Floor Fridays are August 11 and September 22. The W.H. Stark House is located at 610 Main Avenue in Orange, TX. For more information visit whstarkhouse.org or call (409) 883-0871.

The W.H. Stark House was built from 1893 to 1895. The Queen Anne style has many Victorian architectural features including bay windows, a turret and an asymmetrical floor plan. Three brick chimneys with corbelling work connect to nine fireplaces. The historical house was solidly constructed to survive the extreme weather that sometimes occurs in Southeast Texas. The foundation is brick with concrete plaster to offer structural strength and protection from high water. The exterior walls are 10 inches thick with two layers of diagonal storm sheeting, while the interior double walls are 16 inches thick. Cypress is the basic material for the structure, due to the damp conditions of the area. All of the lumber for the framework came from the family-operated Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company, and each board was measured and cut for a precise fit.

Designed with innovative technology and furnished with art, rare books, and treasures from their travels, the Stark House is a testament to local craftsmanship and ingenuity that operates today as a history programming venue. 


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