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Sam Houston Memorial Museum Complex

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1847 Woodland; 1858 Steamboat House. 1836 Sam Houston Ave.

Sam Houston built Woodland in 1847, which he occupied with his wife Margaret Lea until 1859, the period during which he was a U.S. senator. Four of their eight children were born here. Initially a single room cabin of squared logs, a second room was added with the conventional central hallway, or “dog run,” between them, and a porch across the front. Whitewashed weatherboarding was added over the logs. Outbuildings included a kitchen and Houston’s law office. He sold Woodland to pay off campaign debts but later attempted to buy it back. The owner refused, so Houston rented the Steamboat House.

The Steamboat House was built by Rufus W. Bailey, president of Austin College, at Avenue F and 9th Street (and later moved here) in 1858 as a wedding gift for his son, but his family did not like its unusual design, and the Baileys never lived here. The two-story wooden house has a two-level gallery along the long side. A pair of square towers at the front is the source of the “steamboat” allusion. A monumental staircase rises to the second-floor landing between the towers.

Elected Texas governor in 1859, Houston opposed the legislature’s action in 1861 to enact secession, and he refused to take the oath of loyalty to the Confederacy. He was deposed from office and moved back to Huntsville, renting this house in 1862, where he died of pneumonia in 1863. Houston businessman J. E. Josey bought the house in 1933 and gave it to the state. The house was moved to the museum grounds in 1936 and restored. Houston is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in north Huntsville across the street from where the Steamboat house once stood.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.


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Gerald Moorhead et al., "Sam Houston Memorial Museum Complex", [Huntsville, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: East, North Central, Panhandle and South Plains, and West, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019, 29-29.

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