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Monday, October 20, 2014

Explore Texas History -- Visit a Local Museum

A Trip Down Hwy 36 in Coastal Texas


Mertie's This and That is just outside Brazoria, TX. Brazoria is on Hwy 36, a small highway that runs to the coast of Texas, ending in Freeport. At West Columbia, Hwy 36 is about 22 miles west of  288 and joins with it in Freeport. Hwy 288 runs through the middle of Brazoria County from Houston to Freeport. Today's post is about 4 museums within easy travel up Hwy 36 from the beaches in Freeport, TX.

 The Historical Museum in West Columbia
Columbia Historical Museum, West Columbia, TX


The Columbia Historical Museum concentrates on the founding families of  East and West Columbia, which happen to be one of the first ports of this area and the first capitol of the Republic of Texas, respectively. Often, volunteers at the museum will be available to answer questions and lead tours.

Open Thursday -- Saturday
10:00 - 2:00 
and by appointment.
979-345-6125
This picture is used from the West Columbia, TX city website.

Be sure to visit the pocket garden next to the museum, take a look at the turn of the century school behind the museum, and wonder at the ancient oak tree in the field across the street (east) from the museum parking lot (in the rear). Head east down the street to the parking lot behind the Prosperity Bank and visit the replica of the first Capitol of Texas. Yes, West Columbia was the first. If you have time, visit Varner Hogg Plantation. Go East in front of the Prosperity Bank to the stop light and turn left. The plantation is at the end of this short road, a bit past the city park and pool.

From Hwy 36 take Hwy 35 east towards Angleton for each of these locations. 

 Two Museums in Brazoria, TX


Brazoria Historical Museum, Brazoria, TX
The Brazoria Historical Museum  is a block west of the highway on 202 W. Smith St. The museum depicts history of the area from 1800 to the present. It houses its collections in 4 themed rooms and outdoors in the side yard. 

Open Monday -- Friday
 9:00 -- 4:00 
Tours with docents on Wed 10-3 and Sat 11-3 
979-236-1154, or 979-236-0241 or 979-248-1150
 
The community attends the Santa Ana Ball in costumes of the 1800 farmers, businessmen and their wives and wears the costumes for other community activities from time to time.

In front of the historical museum is the tribute to local fallen heroes, the veterans. Like others in Brazoria county, the memorial is a black stone wall carved with the names of these heroes. Surrounding the memorial wall are black stone benches on a rock terrace. There is, of course, the American flag flying above all. These Texan tributes to our soldiers are beautiful and moving, no matter in what town you find them.  The artist that designed the black stone wall gifted us all with an enduring symbol that moves us to tears, fierce pride, and patriotism.

Brazoria Valley Railroad Society Museum, Brazoria, TX
Also in Brazoria, just across the fenced yard with its display of old farm building and statue of a  bull is the Brazoria Valley Railroad Society Museum

Open Saturday
 10:00 -- 4:00 
  979-798-8114

It displays old tools, railroad lamps, and model trains. It also has a large diorama of the Brazoria area from the 1950's in which a model train makes its run. The members of the society craft additions to the diorama and model trains and such to be added to the other displays.
 

 Freeport, TX, has a Museum within Minutes of  Quintana Beach


The City of Freeport Historical Museum  is 3 building complex with a beautiful two-story blue-green Victorian building on the corner. There are large spaces in the museum that can be rented for private meetings and parties. I was told by a Freeport resident that a section of the museum was an old Masonic Lodge that had been well maintained. Among the many exhibits, there are children's displays called "Shaking Hands with Other Lands," and "George the Dinosaur,"  and Dow Chemical's "The History of Magnesium."

City of Freeport Historical Museum, Freeport, TX
In addition to its permanent displays, this museum rotates exhibits and features art and antiques owned by the local community at various times. It has close ties to the museums of Lake Jackson just north a few miles on 288.

Tuesday - Friday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am - 4:00pm
Sunday: 1:00-4:00 pm
979-233-0066
City Hall at 979-233-3526

Across the street is the lovely 2-block-long city park with its old oak trees, palms, fountains and benches. It is a town square between the lanes of E. Park St.  Around and near the square are antique shops, art galleries and pubs.

 

Part Journey down Memory Lane, Part Lesson in History

There is Beauty in the Artifacts of Bygone Days

Pelicans, pier, lighthouse ceramics

I have often felt that walking into Mertie's This and That was like visiting a museum. It is a feeling I get frequently when I visit antique shops. Locating old items to use as designed or add to home decor is a nostalgic exercise. I often find items I remember from my mother's homes--she made many because my dad was in the Navy and moved us around a lot, an my grandparents' homes. The memories that flood through me are always welcome.



The First Capitol of Texas was West Columbia.

Proud of its heritage, West Columbia built a replica of the first capitol building and set it in a city park and pocket garden.  It is in the grounds of the city hall complex behind Prosperity Bank, one block off Hwy 36, as I mentioned above. Don't forget to go inside. It is furnished much as the capitol was originally.

Replica of the First Capitol of Texas

 



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