Special to the Morning Telegraph
The grand dame of Historic Tyler On Tour 2013 has been a prominent Tyler landmark since the late 1800s, but this is the first time it will be a part of Historic Tyler Inc.’s annual spring event, March 23 and 24.
The cost: $2,500.
But the Whitney couple encountered difficulties and in 1900 sold the house to their next-door neighbors, Henry B. and Sarah P. Marsh.
Before moving back to his hometown of Tyler, Marsh had been in Austin, serving as assistant attorney general under Texas Attorney General James S. Hogg. Back home, he was in private practice with the firm of Marsh, McIllwaine and Fitzgerald and served as Tyler city attorney.
The Marshes enlarged their new home, moving it farther back from the street to provide for the addition of the columns and porches, major renovation components.
This completed the Classical Greek Revival style, which was said to remind Sarah of her childhood home in Alabama.
Henry and Sarah’s family ultimately included a son, Bryan, and three daughters, Mittie, Lucy and Sarah. Both Lucy and Sarah became public school teachers, recalled as favorites by countless Tyler students.
The sisters remained in their childhood home for life. The last surviving sibling, Lucy, died in her 90s, marking nearly a century that this family had lived in the landmark home.
For many Tylerites, this property will always be known as The Marsh House. When Clair and Jerolyn Carden purchased the home in 1992, it still had its original light fixtures, the five unique tile-fronted fireplaces and heart-of-pine floors, along with an elevator, installed in 1963. This simplified reaching the basement as well as the upstairs bedrooms.
The open-beamed attic stretches the full width and length of the house, with dormer windows and a large central skylight. All five fireplaces originally were to be served by one chimney that reaches up through the structure. The Cardens undertook renovation projects, attempting to keep their efforts true to the original Marsh expansion of the house.
But after a dozen years, the property was once again put on the market. At the time, the current owners, Donna and Rodney Goforth, were living in a new house on Lake Gladewater with no intentions of moving. But, in 2004 while in Tyler visiting, their daughter noticed the historic home for sale.
“We’re not impulsive people,” Donna said, “but when we saw this place, we fell in love with it and bought it.”
Repairs to the columns and porches were placed first on their list of projects. Inside, the many glass transoms were scraped free of paint, the wood floors were refinished and the fireplaces were closed and fitted with more efficient vent-free gas logs. Carpeting was removed from the staircase steps to reveal the original wood.
The Goforths’ 11 grandchildren have explored the coal chute, napped on the upstairs sleeping porches and scrambled up the front and back staircases, reminding this sometimes sleeping old house of the days when the four Marsh youngsters did the same.