Day Trips: Magoffin Home State Historic Site, El Paso

Pioneer history is preserved in nineteenth-century homestead

Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

The Magoffin Home State Historic Site in El Paso preserves the last homestead and the story of one of the Southwest's pioneering families.

Joseph and Octavia Magoffin began construction of the white adobe house in 1875. It is one of the oldest examples of Territorial Style architecture in Texas. Over the years the family added to the one-story structure until it became a 19-room, U-shaped hacienda opening to a courtyard.

The city and the state purchased the property in 1976. Joseph's granddaughter lived in the house until her death in 1986, and soon after it was opened to the public.

Because the Magoffin family continuously occupied the house, much of the furnishings are original. Family portraits hang on the wall over Octavia's piano.

The rooms off the main hall are surprisingly small for what would have once passed for a mansion. The 14-foot ceilings and 3-foot-thick adobe brick walls helped blunt the mood swings of the desert weather.

James Magoffin, Joseph's father, established a successful mercantile business in Matamoros, Mexico, around 1825. In 1849, he settled on the upper Rio Grande and founded Magoffinsville, the forerunner of El Paso. Nearly 50 years later, John Wesley Hardin was gunned down in El Paso's Acme Saloon.

Joseph returned to his father's extensive real estate holdings after floods and the Civil War nearly bankrupted the family. He co-founded El Paso's first bank and the school system, and served as mayor, county judge, and alderman before his death in 1923.

The Magoffin Home Historic Site is east of downtown El Paso at 1120 Magoffin Ave. It is open for guided and self-guided tours Tuesday through Saturday, 9am to 4pm. For more information, go to

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Magoffin Home, El Paso, Joseph Magoffin, Octavia Magoffin, James Magoffin, Magoffinsville, John Wesley Hardin, Acme Saloon, architecture

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