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Sam Houston House

John W. Clark, Jr. General Entry

Sam Houston's home, the Woodlands, is located in Huntsville, on the campus of Sam Houston State University. When Houston built the house it was outside of town, but growth during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has surrounded the site. The site comprises the original house, the original law office, and a reconstructed kitchen building. The present semirural setting is maintained by the university. Landscaping consists of a white picket fence around the house, kitchen, and office, a pond dating from Houston's occupation, a driveway, a museum, maintenance buildings, and a historic building moved onto the site. Oak, pecan, and pine trees are present. Archeological investigations were performed on the law-office area in 1979 by James E. Corbin of Stephen F. Austin State University; more extensive excavations were conducted in the areas of the house, kitchen, and post-Houston additions by John W. Clark, Jr., of Prewitt and Associates. Additional work was done at the law office and house in 1980 by Jody C. Pevey of Prewitt and Associates. The excavations were conducted to provide information on the architecture of the site for restoration efforts sponsored by Sam Houston State. Houston had his house, kitchen, and law office constructed in 1847 and occupied them until 1853. He sold them in 1858 to J. Carroll Smith, and in 1878 they were sold to S. Smedes, who built additions and converted the house into a boarding house for female students. The law office was removed in 1901, the house and kitchen in 1905. There was some fire damage in 1911, when the house was returned to the site. From 1914 through 1978 a variety of modifications took place, including the building of chimneys, replacement of some woodwork, rebuilding the porch, and adding air-conditioning. Beginning in 1911 the property came under the control of Sam Houston State University. Many artifacts were recovered, a large number attributable to the Smedes. Artifacts associated with Houston's occupation came principally from the kitchen and rear porch area and included ceramics, glass, nails, wire, stove parts, pen nibs, clothing fasteners, and cartridges. Many architectural features were noted in the excavations-for instance, postholes associated with the piers of the Smedes' additions and a chimney base and brick piers for the original house foundation. Within the kitchen a series of floors was found, each consisting of an ashy layer overlain by a layer of sand. Artifacts and documents relating to the excavations of the site are housed at the museum on the property operated by the university. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a national landmark.

John W. Clark, Jr., The Woodlands: Archeological Investigations at the Sam Houston Home, Huntsville, Walker County, Texas (Reports of Investigations 4 [Austin: Prewitt, 1980]).


  • Architecture
  • Houses, Mansions, and Plantations

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

John W. Clark, Jr., “Sam Houston House,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 20, 2021,

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