This Eastlake Victorian home was built in 1891 for James F. Crawford, a lumberman.
James F. Crawford bought the land for this home in April of 1891 for $2,000. The home was completed at a cost of approximately $5,000. The exterior of the house is covered in extensive decorative work that was created by Albert Kuna, a young immigrant from Bohemia. The home was originally painted light green on the upper level and the lower level was a darker olive green.
The upper level of the home is covered with decorative shingles of fish scale and diamond shapes. The carpentry work on the home was extensive. As the owner of a lumberyard, he had access to fine wood shingles. His house served as a showpiece for products that he sold at the lumberyard.
The newspaper editor for Louisiana, I.N. Bryson, was known for his witty sense of humor that shined in his work. Here is how he described Crawford’s new home in the Louisiana Press Journal on April 7, 1891:
“Strolling out the street the other day we noticed that the workmen on Crawford’s new house were putting the shingles on the sides instead of the roof. This looked like a shingular place to put them but we supposed Mr. Crawford knows what he wants. By the way, there are eighteen carpenters working on this building, which will be one of the handsomest residences in Northeast Missouri.”
James Crawford was born on April 26, 1841 in Ralls County, Missouri. Like many other Missouri residents, he served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Missouri was one of four border states that were officially part of the Union, but it was a slave state. Because of this, many Missourians supported the Confederate cause.
He served under Colonel Brace in the 3rd Regiment of the Missouri Calvary State Guard. He was eventually captured and put in a St. Louis prison for ten weeks. He was released after making an oath not to take up arms again.
In 1867, he joined Stark, Barnett, and Co. who ran Pike County Nurseries in Louisiana. He worked for the company for six years before moving to Vandalia, Missouri in 1873. He joined the firm Canter & Crawford. In 1879, he finally opened a lumberyard of his own in Vandalia.
James F. Crawford married Margaret D. Barnett, daughter of Joseph and Mary Fry Barnett, on October 12, 1865. They had five children together: Ernest, born December 15, 1867; Homer, born February 19, 1870; Willie, born August 27, 1872, and died February 3, 1874; Mabel, born March 13, 1876; and Lillian born August 25, 1888 and died April 1, 1891. 1
Another notable resident of this home was William Pharr Stark, who later became the black sheep of one of Louisiana’s most prominent families. He was the third son of William Watts Stark and Cynthia Eliza Pharr, born March 16, 1862. As an adult he joined his brothers, Edgar and Clarence, working at the family business, Stark Bros. Nursery. He started as an office manager and worked his way up to being the treasurer for the company.
In 1911, amid a power struggle, he resigned from Stark Bros. As an act of retaliation he began his own nursery with his son William H. Stark. The new company was called William P. Stark Nurseries. His retaliatory and often illegal business practices eventually led to a lawsuit from his brother, Edgar Stark. In 1913, Stark Brothers Nurseries had trademarked the phrase “Stark Trees”. Edgar sued William for trademark infringement because he was using the Stark name to sell his fruit trees. The lengthy court battle eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court where Oliver Wendell Holmes delivered the court’s opinion. Edgar ultimately won, and William’s company was renamed Neosho Nurseries in 1921. Needless to say, he was shunned by his family. After only a few years at the company that he created, he was ousted by new owners. William moved to the East Coast since he no longer had family ties to the area. He lived out the rest of his life with his former secretary Peachy Ransom (her real name!) 2
The most famous resident of this home is Lloyd Crow Stark. The house is named on the National Register of Historic Places as the Gov. Lloyd Crow Stark House and Carriage House.
Lloyd Crow Stark was born to Clarence McDowell and Lilly Crow Stark on November 23, 1886. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis from 1904-1908. In 1911, he returned to Louisiana to serve as the Vice- President and General Manager of Stark Bros. Nursery. When WWI broke out, he resigned from Stark Bros. and applied for reinstatement as an officer in the Navy. He accepted an offer to teach field artillery at the First Officer’s Training Camp at Fort Meyer, Virginia. He later served as a Major in the 315th Field Artillery of the U.S. Army in France. 3
He married Margaret Pearson Stickney in 1908. They had two sons: Lloyd, born September 20, 1909, and John, born January 30, 1916. Margaret died on October 12, 1930 from an intestinal obstruction. On November 23, 1931, Lloyd married Katherine Louisa Perkins. Their daughters were Mary , born in 1933, and Katherine, born in 1934 and Susan born October 14, 1938 and passed away October 23, 1938.
Lloyd Stark’s political career began when he sought the governorship of Missouri in 1936. He was endorsed by Tom Pendergast, the political boss of Kansas City from 1925- 1939. After winning the election, he called upon the people of Missouri to “Clean up the unholy alliance of politics and crime in this state.” He attempted to oust Harry Truman in the Democratic Primary for one of Missouri’s Senate seats. He lost the primary and at the end of his term as governor, he returned to Louisiana to live on his family’s apple orchard. He died on September 17, 1972 and was buried in the Riverview Cemetery. 4
The home took on a notably different look at some point prior to Lloyd Stark winning the Missouri Governorship in 1937. The home was painted totally white when it was featured alongside an article about Governor Stark in the April 24, 1931 issue of Life magazine.
By the early 1970s the many plantings around the house were hiding it away .
By the mid 1980s, Anita Ludwig had purchased the house. She gave the house a new look and worked to get it listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Missouri ‘s Historic Register.
Here is what the interior of the home looks like today: