Shirley Carley said, “The W. W. Magruder home on Jackson Street in 1951, it was in a rundown condition after being vacant for some time. When it was built in 1900, however, the house was one of Starkville’s most handsome homes. Through several periods of repair and renovation the house, which today is the Community Youth Center add offices of the Parks and Recreation Department, remains an attractive structure and a center for community activity.
The building features spacious rooms with high ceilings typical of the turn of the century. An unusual feature, for that era, was the inclusion of two large bathrooms. There were five bedrooms upstairs while the main floor held double parlors, a dining room, kitchen and spacious entry hall. Curly pine paneling was used on the walls and the floors were of solid walnut. The woodwork in the lower rooms and the handsome spindled stairway in the entry hall added distinction to the décor.
After the Magruder family moved from the house, it was vacant until the city purchased it for $20,000. It was bought specifically to provide a place for the young people of the community. Parents had exerted pressure for a suitable center for the youth that previously had been allocated a small room in the city hall for their activities.
A committee of youth and adult was formed to guide the development of the center. Their first order of business was to clear the lot that had suffered heavily in a severe ice storm earlier in the year. In the front lawn were two large oak trees and two magnolia trees while the back boasted 16 tall cedars, three oaks, five pecans, one elm and 38 fig trees.
The house was rewired and the rooms redecorated with paint and wallpaper. Rooms on the left side to the downstairs were turned into an apartment for a resident hostess, the first of who was Mrs. I. C. Pope who moved in September of 1951. Local citizens
donated furnishings for the apartment and the rest of the building.
The official dedication of the Youth Center was held in December. The following summer, recreational programs for youth were begun and continued to be offered each summer for many years. Classes in art were also available and the center was often the scene of art exhibits.
In 1959, Mrs. Opal Haney became the resident hostess. The following year the kitchen and downstairs rooms were redecorated and a tennis court was constructed on the lower back lot. Activities expanded to include dances and open house after Starkville High School home football games. The boy and girl scouts began holding their weekly meetings there. The boys constructed picnic benches for the yard and the girls decorated two of the upstairs rooms. Included on the activity schedule during these years were classes in flower arranging and art along with card parties, lectures, talent shows and a weekly youth radio broadcast.
After Mrs. Haney left several years ago, a permanent hostess was not employed. The left side of the building now houses the Red Cross office and offices for the P&RD department that oversees use of the facility by community groups and also supervises the upkeep.
An active program for the elderly has been initiated along with classes in various crafts, cooking and exercise for adults and young people. Boy and girl scouts continue to meet there, and the center is also available for young people on Saturday nights when parents volunteer to chaperone. A regulation pool table, pin-pong table and games of all kinds from monopoly to croquet offer entertainment and fun. “We’re looking for a juke box so the young people can enjoy music here too,” commented P&RD director Forest Ponder.
In the back yard are several picnic tables and a Tot Lot filled with playground equipment donated several years ago by the Starkville Jaycees. A contract has been let to resurface the old tennis court and future plans call for a fence and lights for the courts as they can be utilized for lessons.
In the past several years, renovation and redecorating of the meeting rooms and offices has been continued. A few years ago a new roof was put on the house and recently the repair and painting of the exterior was completed along with installation of a metal outside fire escape.
There is still a lot of work to be done, however, the handsome old home continues to be a landmark in the community as well as the hub of activity for young and old alike.”
Today, it is the home of Genevieve Maxon-Stark who is restoring it.