The braced frame construction and documentary evidence of the Harris Martin House, suggest that the house was built c. 1840. John Birdsall Harris inherited both the house and a business from his cousin, Charles J. Birdsall, in August 1844. Harris and Birdsall were two of the first merchants in the community of Alta Mira established by Henry Fanthorp in 1838. Harris’ father, John R Harris, founded Harrisburg, Texas. His mother, Jane Harris was active in Texas’ Independence.
John B. Harris married Virginia Goodrich, the daughter of B.B. Goodrich who was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. In 1849, Harris purchased six lots and was given two lots by his father-in-law in the new town of Anderson, Texas. It is believed that Harris moved the house to Anderson from its original location in Alta Mira.
John F. Martin purchased the property in 1877. The second story was added at this time, and the structure was converted to Greek Revival Style. The original house had a simple braced frame with a porch on two sides, and the interior consisted of two rooms. Later, Greek Revival changes added a double portico central section with a narrow staircase from the front porch.
Documentation was undertaken the summer of 1995 by Mark Cowen, Dennis Obert, Christopher Sanders, Janice Wen, and Debra Winslow under the direction of David G. Woodcock, FAIA, RIBA for the Historic Resources Imaging Laboratory at Texas A&M University.
The work was supported by the Grimes County Historical Commission, Historic Anderson, and the Historic American Building Survey (HABS).