The W.H. Stark House receives National Award of Merit

Published 10:45 am Monday, June 13, 2016

Special to The Leader

ORANGE — The American Association for State and Local History selected the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation as a 2016 Award of Merit winner by the Leadership in History awards committee for the exhibit A Death in the Family. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 71st year, is the nation’s most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

A Death in the Family: Mourning and Remembrance 1880s-1930s, exhibited from September 5, 2015 through November 28, 2015, was an enlightening and thought-provoking exhibit at The W.H. Stark House, that explored how we remember the loss of loved ones, as well as the transition from the formal mourning of the Victorian period to the more modern practices. The exhibit explored mourning death as an intrinsic part of life with elaborate rituals and social customs.

For the first time ever, the Tower Room on the top floor of The W.H. Stark House was used as an exhibition space, with a special hands-on education area in the turret. Utilizing the Tower Room in a new way was one of the reasons for being chosen as an award winner.

The national awards committee noted that A Death in the Family: Mourning and Remembrance 1880s-1930s was a significant change in interpretation philosophy and strategy for The W.H. Stark House. They applauded the staff for using social history to make the house and family more approachable.

The Site Manager and Curator for The W.H. Stark House, Jeff Harris, stated, “This exhibit was about trying to make the Stark family into real people. They enjoyed having fun and hosting parties, but they also dealt with death just like everyone else. This exhibit was a way to have The W.H. Stark House relate to the community in a new way.”

Now on view at The W.H. Stark House is the Preserving the Past exhibition that celebrates caring for the past by preserving family treasures. Preserving the Past is on view through January 14, 2017.

For visitors looking for a more in-depth experience, The W.H. Stark House offers Second Saturday Specialty tours focusing on unique aspects of the House or family on the second Saturday of the month. Offered at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and Noon, these tours are developed by the House staff and guides to highlight objects from the House collection not frequently on view. Past topics have included: Mourning Customs, Courtship, Anniversary Celebrations, and Music. These tours do not cover the information shared during a regular house tour. Upcoming Second Saturday Specialty tour topics are announced 1 – 2 months in advance.

The American Association for State and Local History is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history. From its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, AASLH provides leadership, service, and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful in American society. AASLH publishes books, technical publications, a quarterly magazine, a monthly newsletter, and maintains numerous affinity groups and committees serving a broad range of constituents across the historical community. The AASLH awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena.

The W.H. Stark House is located at 610 West Main Avenue in Orange, Texas, and is open Tuesday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Tours begin in the adjacent Carriage House and parking is available in the Lutcher Theater parking lot. For more information,