Samuel Bell Maxey, born in 1825, graduate of West Point, and veteran of the U.S.-Mexico War, arrived in Paris, Texas in 1857 with his wife and extended family in tow. As Maxey prepared to take office after his election to the Texas State Senate in 1860, Civil War broke out and, with it, the state left the Union, leaving Maxey to serve a divided nation, siding with the Confederacy. He formed the Ninth Texas Infantry Regiment, fought the North, and completed the war as a major general. He resumed a legal practice and held office throughout the following years thanks exclusively to a presidential pardon courtesy of Andrew Johnson and only through the generous influence of General Ulysses S. Grant.
Flush with money earned from legal fees, Maxey built a fashionable house, completed in 1868 and designed in the High Victorian Italianate style of the period. Although a relatively simple frame house at its core, elaborate columns, open porches, and elongated hooded windows give it the feeling of an Italian villa, key details in defining the popular Victorian design.
The home and grounds served the Maxey family just short of 100 years when descendants donated it to the city of Paris. Ownership was transferred to the state in 1976 and, today, the Texas Historical Commission considers it one of their primary historic sites. The site explores the Maxey story through original furnishings, clothing, and photographs, and is opened to the public for tours.