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Historic American Buildings Survey of Wyalucing

The National Park Service (NPS) required a "high standard of draftsmanship" from the architects employed on the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), and the three-man team that documented the former Wyalucing Plantation in Marshall certainly met the standard. The team created drawings and descriptions that were as “complete, clear, and accurate” as HABS demanded, and it is a good thing that it did. Less than thirty years after the survey was made, Wyalucing was demolished to make way for new development in Marshall.

In February 1934, Dallas architects Clarence Bulger, Charles Franklin "Frank" Dunham, Jr., and Eugene O. Taylor visited the campus of historically black Bishop College to document what was then known as the C.H. Maxson Music Hall. The survey team recorded the building by this current name, as well as by its original name, Wyalucing, which was bestowed on it in 1850 by its original owner, Beverly Lafayette Holcombe. NPS specified that they were to document "complete plans, elevations and sections," profiles of mouldings, uses of rooms, dimensions and "all materials," with the understanding that their final work product should "be worthy to be placed among the permanent national records."

Taylor also photographed Wyalucing and Bulger wrote a brief history, consulting with nearby relatives of the original occupants. Bulger noted that the two-story home was designed by an unknown architect and constructed with slave labor. He also noted that Holcombe's daughter Lucy had married South Carolina politician Francis W. Pickens when he was the U.S. Minister to Russia. Although HABS guidelines discouraged inclusion of lengthy "accounts of genealogical matter" and "sentimental mythology," Bulger mentioned that the Pickens took their "two favorite personal slaves with them to Russia," that the birth of their daughter "was heralded with the National Salute" in Russia, and that Lucy's portrait was "chosen to adorn" the Confederate $100 bill.

Wyalucing was sold out of the Holcombe family in 1880. The American Baptist Home Mission Society acquired the house and land and opened Bishop College there in 1881 to educate black students. The mansion house served as the home of the college president and later as a music hall and an administration building. When Bishop College relocated to Dallas in 1961, the City of Marshall expressed interest in purchasing the campus and the Harrison County Historical Society hoped to use Wyalucing as a museum, but opponents questioned whether the city should use tax dollars for a "culture project." Instead, a businessman purchased the property and a shopping center developer exercised an option it to buy it.

Despite efforts by local preservationists to save Wyalucing, demolition began in November 1962. The shopping center was never built although an apartment complex was constructed in 1970 on the southern half of the former campus. Today the location where the plantation house once stood is a vacant wooded area just west of Bishop Street between West Grand Avenue and Melonie Street. A foot path between the apartments to the south and a convenience store to the north passes the former Wyalucing site.


Wyalucing from Northeast
Wyalucing from Northeast Eugene O. Taylor photographed Wyalucing as one component of the HABS documentation work. This view shows Wyalucing from the northwest and is one of eight photos included in the survey materials. Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress
Wyalucing East Elevation
Wyalucing East Elevation This image shows Wyalucing's six-bay east or front elevation. The east elevation featured alternating doors and nine-over-nine sash windows on the first floor. Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress
Wyalucing from Northwest
Wyalucing from Northwest This photograph shows Wyalucing from the northwest and provides the best view of a brick retaining wall around a flower terrace. Also visible is an exterior staircase on the west elevation but another staircase on the north elevation had been removed. Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress
Wyalucing from Southwest
Wyalucing from Southwest This view from the southwest shows how the colonnade of tapered columns significantly increased the appearance of the size of the house. Two small balconies on the second story are also visible as is a team member on the porch holding a foot rule for scale. Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress
Wyalucing Measured Drawings Cover
Wyalucing Measured Drawings Cover The survey team prepared this site plan for the cover of five pages of measured drawings. Here they identified the property, then owned by Bishop College, by the name of the original owner, B.L. Holcombe. They mistakenly identified the street to the south as Rush rather than Rusk. Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress
Wyalucing Measured Drawing of Floor Plan
Wyalucing Measured Drawing of Floor Plan Prepared by Eugene O. Taylor, this measured drawing of the Wyalucing floor plan shows the dimensions of each room and exterior features like stairs, porches and a brick retaining wall. Dotted lines indicate more recent additions to the original structure, like divisions in some second floor rooms. Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress
Wyalucing Measured Drawing of Elevations
Wyalucing Measured Drawing of Elevations Measured drawings detailed the dimensions of a structure and the materials used, such as wood for shingles and steps and bricks for chimneys, an exterior retaining wall and part of the foundation. C. Frank Dunham, Jr., prepared two pages of elevation drawings including this one showing the north and south elevations. Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress
Wyalucing Measured Drawing of Details
Wyalucing Measured Drawing of Details C. Frank Dunham, Jr., created two pages of measured drawings showing design details of windows, doors and staircase railings. This page includes fireplace mantels and the transom window above a door. Source: Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress



Amy Bertsch, “Historic American Buildings Survey of Wyalucing,” East Texas History, accessed July 17, 2024,