NE TEXAS Real Estate News

Sam Bell Maxey House- Paris, TX

February 26th, 2016 11:33 AM by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP

The Sam Bell Maxey House is a great Paris, TX Landmark


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Sam Bell Maxey House History


Samuel Bell Maxey was born on March 30, 1825 to Rice and Lucetta Pope Bell Maxey in Tompkinsville, Kentucky. Maxey graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1846 and served in the U.S. Army during the U.S–Mexico War. After leaving the Army, he joined his father’s law firm in Kentucky and married Marilda Cass Denton in 1853.

Maxey and his father moved their families to Paris, Texas in 1857 and continued their law careers. Maxey was elected to the Texas State Senate in December 1860, but the state seceded from the United States before he took office. Instead, he formed the Ninth Texas Infantry Regiment to serve the Confederate States, eventually rising to the rank of major general. After the Civil War, Maxey attempted to resurrect his legal career, but found he required a personal pardon from President Andrew Johnson to continue his law practice or to hold public office. After many unsuccessful attempts, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Maxey’s classmate from West Point, recommended his presidential pardon and his citizenship rights were restored.

The fees collected from legal cases allowed the newly restored attorney to build his house on Church Street, which was completed in December 1868. Maxey and Marilda moved into the house, along with their 12-year-old adopted daughter, Dora Rowell Maxey. Their fashionable house was designed to resemble an Italian villa with elongated, hooded windows, a portico and open porches. The elaborate carvings on the front columns and other rich architectural details are reflections of the Victorian love for embellishment. This house was a progressive addition to the city’s architecture and considered a proper home for Maxey’s prominent status.

In 1874, Maxey was elected to the first of two terms in the United States Senate. Known as “The Beaver of the Senate,” because of his tireless work, he developed legislation that improved national harbors, railroads, post offices and post roads. Sen. Maxey died in Eureka Springs, Arkansas in August 1895; his body was brought home to Paris and laid to rest in Evergreen Cemetery.

Sam Bell Maxey Long (Maxey’s great-nephew) and his wife Lala inherited the home in 1908 and began extensive remodeling in 1911. The Longs made several additions to the back of the building, including a breakfast room, a first floor laundry room and an upstairs sewing room. They combined two of the sitting rooms to create a larger, more formal parlor. Outside, brick walkways were re-laid and the original fence was replaced by a boxwood hedge along Church Street. 

Did You Know?

·         Sam Bell and Marilda Maxey were invited to dine at the White House with President Ulysses S. Grant and First Lady Julia.

·         Maxey’s West Point roommate, Thomas Jackson, earned the nickname “Stonewall” during the Civil War.

·         Texas Gov. Richard Coke and Kentucky Gov. Preston Leslie attended the wedding of Maxey’s daughter in Paris, Texas on November 3, 1874.

·         Dora Maxey Lightfoot’s husband, Henry W. Lightfoot, was appointed the Chief Justice of the Fifth Supreme Court of Appeals in Dallas by Gov. Jim Hogg.

·         Maxey’s great-nephew, Sam Bell Maxey Long, was in the first law class at the University of Texas in 1892; the equivalent of a present-day Juris Doctor degree.

·         Sam Bell Maxey Long married the daughter of U.S. Marshal, J. Shelby Williams. Williams brought in 88 outlaws, including the notorious Bill Dalton of Tulsa, Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma).

·         On exhibit at the Maxey House is a huge shell from the ocean that served as the family punch bowl.

·         Texas legislative documents refer to Marilda Maxey’s cultivation of crape myrtles.

·         Camp Maxey in Paris was named in honor of Sam Bell Maxey during World War II and continues to function as a National Guard center.

·         Stand Watie, the only Native American general in the Confederacy, served under Gen. Maxey. 


Visitor Information

Visitors tour the dining room at the Maxey house.

Visitors to Sam Bell Maxey House are guided through the Victorian home of the Maxey and Long families, which interprets how an upper-middle-class family lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Maxey and Long families lived in the house for 99 years before it was turned into a public institution, leaving a collection that is mainly family-owned.

Today, the Sam Bell Maxey House has more than 10,000 artifacts. Visitors to the house hear stories about the families while viewing the actual objects owned, used, and created by the Maxeys and Longs. A number of the site’s signature pieces were recently conserved, including the painting “Rebecca at the Well,” a 19th-century hand-painted fan, and two swords.

The site is accessible only by guided house tours, which are given every hour on the hour and typically last 45 minutes to one hour. The last tour is given at 3 p.m.

In addition to the house tour, visitors are free to walk the grounds at their own leisure where they can view the formal Victorian garden, a rose garden planted in honor of Marilda Maxey’s love of gardening and roses, and a number of crape myrtle trees. Marilda Maxey brought the first crape myrtle trees to Paris when the Maxeys moved to Texas from Kentucky.

Posted by NE TEXAS REALTY GROUP on February 26th, 2016 11:33 AM


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