Bastrop News

BASTROP PROFILES: Bastrop Museum and Visitor’s Center

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The building at 904 Main Street in Bastrop has been home to several different functions since it was built in the 1930s. In turns, it has housed the police station, the jail, a fire station and until recently the seat of Bastrop’s city government.

After $1.5 million in renovations to the old City Hall, the building’s new resident is the Bastrop Museum and Visitor Center. Sponsored by the Bastrop County Historical Society, which actually began its activities back in 1952 as the “Ladies Reading Circle,” the Museum’s collections include artifacts from pre-European settlement through the Spanish settlement period and on into our more recent history.

Quanah A recent “traveling” exhibit featured the life and accomplishments of Quanah Parker, Comanche chief and son of Cynthia Parker, a Texan abducted at the age of nine by the Comanche in 1836.

Current exhibits illustrate early County history, the Spanish influence on life in a Stephen F. Austin colony, the State parks and the Bastrop County Complex fires in 2011.

“We began planning what the permanent exhibits would be even before we had raised the construction funds,” says Sandra Chipley, the Historical Society’s President. “Two galleries are completed, but five exhibit areas still need to be finished. These are the Governor Sayers, King Cotton, Cattle Era, Coal Mines, and World War II/Camp Swift exhibits. These areas present key historical, economic and cultural stages in Bastrop County’s development.”

Barbara Vana has managed the Museum’s day-to-day operations since 2002. “We currently have completed about two thirds of the planned permanent exhibits. Two exhibit background murals are completed and our research facility is open and ready for folks looking for Bastrop connections or doing graduate research.”

The ”Runaway Scrape” exhibit tells the story of native Bastropian John Holland Jenkins and his mother, Sarah, fleeing from the Mexican army, along with hundreds of other Texans, preceding the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836. An eight foot tall original mural by artist Lee Jamison depicts the family trying to cross a flooding river.

Visitors at Front Desk Bastrop’s contributions to the major battles that preceded the final victory at San Jacinto are highlighted in “The Road to Independence” exhibit. The men of Mina (Bastrop) who fought in these battles include James Clinton Neill who commanded the “Come and Take It” cannon at Gonzales and Dick Andrews who was reputedly the first to die in the Texas Revolution.

The Historical Society has just kicked off one final fundraising campaign to collect the resources necessary complete the last five permanent galleries. The organization has already achieved the $1.5 million required to renovate the former city Hall, and now needs only $150,000 to complete the planned seven permanent exhibits.

Until Sept. 30, you can place your own legendary plaque in the Museum lobby with a donation to this campaign. Information about how to leave your legacy on Bastrop history can be found at www.bastropcountyhistoricalsociety.com.

To give folks an opportunity to become better acquainted with the Museum, “back-of-the-house” tours are being offered by BCHS volunteers. Bring the whole family for about a 30 minute stroll. All tours begin at 2 p.m. and are scheduled for July 15, 19, 21, 26, 29; Aug. 4 and 9; and Sept. 13 and 16.

SignageFor more information on the tours call the museum at 512-303-0057 or the visitor center at 512-303-0904.

If you are interested in putting the present day into historical perspective, this museum will astonish you with its professional displays and creative exhibits. And the Visitor’s Center is a great place to go for current information about what’s going on in Bastrop and Bastrop County.

“We are a wonderful museum,” says Vana. “Come and see it!”

Bastrop Museum & Visitor Center
904 Main Street
Bastrop, Texas 78602
512-303-0057

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