In 2019 a movie was released called Christmas in the Plaza, with the main character being a historian hired to document files and locate a lost piece of history to the Grand Plaza. In one particular scene, actor Bruce Davidson referred to the mansion as the “grand lady, always awake watching over her guests.”

That thought of a building being referred to as a grand lady came to mind as the doors were opened once again at the Crim Mansion for a reception in honor of India Rader Stroope for her work, contributions and loyalty to Gregg County and the Gregg County Historical Museum.

Every detail from the outside leading in to the building assured distinguished guests they were warmly welcomed to one of Kilgore’s finest “grand ladies,” thanks to the current owner Ms. Victoria Eggers and her business manager, Cathy Jones.

Music floated through the air from a string quartet, adding a relaxing atmosphere to the event as guests — some of whom had not seen each other in quite a while, others meeting each other for the first time — enjoyed the reception. Tables were filled with delicacies catered in especially for the event.

A trip to Washington, D.C. prevented India’s son, J Mitchell, CEO of Rader Funeral Home of Kilgore, from attending the special event, however many of her other family members were in attendance, to her delight.

None-the-less, the grand mansion provided the finest atmosphere for the night’s gathering and received compliments of the beauty of the architect and preservation of an era from the past that has withstood all elements.

The Crim Mansion was built in 1935 by Malcolm Crim a few years after the height of the East Texas Oil Boom, which brought thousands overnight into Kilgore. At the time, Malcolm’s home was located on Main Street and was moved after the building of the mansion. Even that home was built to last more than one generation, and currently his nephew and wife Trey and Wendy Crim occupy that home.

Trey said, “My uncle was a lot of fun to be around. He loved to go hunting and fishing with my dad, John T. Crim.”

Malcolm is said to have dressed casually and was hard to distinguish in a crowd. He smoked a corn cob pipe and always had one in his hand that he liked to give as gifts. He was the Mayor of Kilgore and also instrumental in helping with the build of other fine buildings, like the Kilgore Public Library, in the area.

The mansion was built after his wife Katie May Crim returned from a trip abroad. The stone and bricks were imported from Great Britain for the build. The mansion was unique in that it had three natural gas fireplaces with marble mantels (natural gas was free at the time), nickel hardware throughout, mahogany floors and doors and an upstairs ballroom made from knotty pine, plus other architectural designs not found in other Texas mansions. It later became known as the first home in East Texas to have central air and heat, and the Kilgore City Pool was fashioned from the one located on the six-acre home site.

In 1972, Katie May donated the Crim Mansion to Kilgore College to be used as a Workforce Development office and a school for nursing. The upkeep on the mansion and grounds later became a burden to the college, and the love of the mansion had already caught the eye of Victoria Eggers. Once her husband Jim saw the unique architectural designs and other features, he, too, became enthusiastic about purchasing the mansion.

Neither the college nor the Eggers wanted the building to become commercialized and turned into something like a restaurant, so with like-minds, in the year of 2000, the Eggers became owners of the Crim Mansion and restoration began. All signs of any classroom equipment were removed, and the couple set out to return the grand mansion back to its original state.

The couple had no plans in living in the mansion but using it as a facility to host key civic events in Kilgore. Jim Eggers passed away in 2016, but not before seeing their plans unfold.

The “grand lady” will still be standing in all its splendor for years to come, welcoming special guests into the warmth of its charm.

May His love and laughter fill your hearts and your homes throughout the week. In the meantime, we may be reached at chitchatlinda@aol.com or (903) 984-2593.

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May His love and laughter fill your hearts and your homes throughout the week. In the meantime, we may be reached at chitchatlinda@aol.com or (903) 984-2593.