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The Kirby-Hill house has been a fascination for the people of Hardin County for as long as anyone can remember. The owners were private people, and that created a romantic mystique and great curiosity. Many a resident and traveler wanted a chance to buy it or at least see inside it.
The house was built in 1902 by James L. Kirby, brother and business partner of the more famous timber tycoon John Henry Kirby. He sold it to his daughter Lucy Kirby Hill, and her granddaughter Autie Hill sold it in 1992 to the Kirby-Hill House Educational Foundation, Inc.
The home features 6 gables, two chimney, crow’s nest with balustrade, 8-foot windows, curved front walls, double front doors, wrap-around porches, two levels, accessible from all eight major rooms, grand staircase, massive pocket doors, exquisite woodwork, servants’ staircase, butler’s pantry, unique closets, built-in china closet with lifting glass doors and 4 mirrored fireplaces with decorative brass covers.
It rests on 1.2 acres of land set aside for botanical and historical development with a 100-year old State Champion crepe myrtle tree on the grounds. Pictures, albums, papers and artifacts dating back to 1832 are displayed along with the original furniture, an 1850 piano and Lucy Kirby-Hill’s 1884 organ.
When the home was put on the market in 1992, officers of the Hardin County Tourist Bureau, the Hardin County Judge, Kountze City Mayor, County Historical Commissioner, Arts & Educational Foundation founder Helen White and Sour Lake Businessman, Ken Pelt met to form the Kirby-Hill House Project.
Its purpose was to restore the home and open it for tours to students and tourists. An open house was held and volunteers began the repair and restoration phase of the Kirby-Hill House project. While the restoration is not complete, the Kirby-Hill House is now open to the public for daily tours, lunches twice a week, murder mystery dinners twice a year, and a bed and breakfast on weekends, and it hosts several special events throughout the year, such as the Kirby-Hill House Christmas Ball.
Photos courtesy of Owings Educational Services.