Our area is rich in Texas history! Washington County is where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed on March 2, 1836! Visit Toubin Park in Downtown Brenham and see the fully restored underground cistern from the 1800‘s, originally used to collect rainwater and battle fires. It is a State Antiquities Landmark!
Bring your church group, school group or family to visit Texas’ oldest continuously serving Baptist church. The present church dates to 1872. The pulpit furniture dates to 1852. Sam Houston was baptized here and carved his and his wife’s initials in their family pew. Baylor University and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor began here. This church has been called the mother church of Texas Baptists because of its significance to Texas Baptist history. The museum remains free, thanks to the generous support of Texas Baptists.
Step into the Past Historical Tours are great for mid-week groups and individuals on Saturdays. Start out at the Visitor Center for a short film about Brenham’s history, shown by reservation for groups. Visit historic sites on a guided walking tour of Downtown Brenham with your group, or have a step-on guide join you on a visit to neighboring historic sites around the county. Must be booked at least 2 weeks in advance.
The Brenham Heritage Museum is currently operating out of the Brenham Bus Depot while the museum’s main building is undergoing extensive renovations.
Beneath Brenham streets is a State Archeological Landmark, a large system of historic cisterns. The cisterns were built in the late 1800s to store rainwater for public fire fighting. Private cisterns were also abundant throughout early Washington County, used for bathing, drinking and cooking. Enjoy the Wild West story of why these cisterns were built. It’s a tale of an early railroad, a rough Boom Town, and colorful characters who shaped Washington County’s history. Self-guided tours through this historic Downtown Brenham pocket park can be enjoyed any time of the day.
History lives, thanks to the Burton Heritage Society! Since 1973 devoted members have maintained and preserved the Burton Railroad Depot and Mt. Zion Cemetery. Both sites are vital to area history. The depot transports visitors to 1870 when Burton was a terminal on the Houston and Texas Central Railroad while the cemetery honors some of the earliest and more notable inhabitants. Open first Saturday of the month and by appointment.
The Heritage Society of Washington County is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic buildings and artifacts, and to promoting education and interest in Washington County,Texas. Established in 1970, the Society owns and operates two historic properties: The 1843 Giddings Wilkin House Museum and the 1870 Giddings Stone Mansion. Ideal for weddings, receptions, business luncheons and dinners, the Giddings Stone Mansion features four spacious rooms on the first floor and four on the second, with a wrap-around porch on both floors and beautifully landscaped grounds.
The Brenham Fire Museum – a.k.a. Brenham Fire Company # 1 Fire Museum, was designed to house Samanthe, the 1923 American LaFrance Type 38 that the Brenham Fire Department owns. Purchased April 2, 1923 from the manufacturer in Elmira, NY, Samanthe is one of only three left of its kind. Only 34 fire engines of this type were produced between early 1900 and 1930.
The museum is also home to a 1950 American LaFrance, the Invader, and houses fire artifacts from the department’s long history.
Tours of the Museum can be arranged by calling the Fire Department at 979-337-7300.
The Star of the Republic Museum was created by the Texas Legislature and is administered by the Texas Historical Commission as a cultural and educational institution. Its purpose is to collect and preserve the material culture of the Texas Republic (1836-1846) and to interpret the history, cultures, diversity and values of early Texans. The Museum strives to inspire interest, understanding and appreciation of Texas heritage for students, teachers, scholars and the general public through exhibits, tours, programs, web activities, and outreach.
Fully restored, the carousel is one of eight that exist in Texas today and is the only example of a C.W. Parker carousel with Herschell-Spillman horses. Manufactured prior to 1910, it is housed in a unique 16-sided WPA building in the heart of Fireman’s Park.
On the east side of FM 50 (next to the Antique Rose Emporium), interpretive signage and a reconstructed bell tower mark the archeological ruins of the Baylor campus for males. A well-marked walking and/or driving trail with 19 interpretive signs relates the history of the village of Independence. On the west side of FM 50, ruins mark the site of the original Baylor University and its female department, one of the best places in the state to enjoy springtime bluebonnets. Adjacent to the John P. Coles homes, this park features picnic tables and a playground area.