The 293-acre Washington on the Brazos Historic Site in Washington, TX, is where—on March 2,1836—59 men bravely met in Washington, TX to formally declare Texas’ independence from Mexico, making Washington on the Brazos the very spot “Where Texas Became Texas.
Brenham, Texas November 30, 2017
It was March 2, 1836 when 59 delegates bravely met at Washington, Texas to do something few have ever done: found a nation and make a formal declaration of independence from Mexico. From 1836 until 1846, the Republic of Texas proudly existed as a separate nation. Washington on the Brazos is, indeed, “Where Texas Became Texas.”
Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site has many onsite amenities open daily, as well as an incredible schedule of events and programs. On the grounds of this 293-acre, TPWD-run state park, stories of this tumultuous time in Texas history live on and can be experienced at Independence Hall (the site in 1836 where the representatives met to write the declaration of independence and craft the first constitution); the Star of the Republic Museum (collections honoring the history, cultures, diversity and values of early Texans; administered by Blinn College); and Barrington Living History Farm (where interpreters dress, talk, work and farm as the earliest residents of the original farmstead did). The site’s Visitor Center features interactive exhibits which present a timeline of the Texas Revolution and highlight the historic attractions located within the park; it also houses the spacious Washington Emporium Gift Shop, which offers snacks and a wide range of Texas-themed items and keepsakes. The Fanthorp Inn State Historic Site is a wonderfully preserved example of a 19th century stagecoach inn, located nearby in Anderson, TX. The entrance to the park grounds, Visitor Center and parking is always free; fees apply for access to Barrington Farm and the Star of the Republic Museum, and for tours of Independence Hall.
Extra Special Events:
March 3 and 4, 2018: Texas Independence Day Celebration; 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. “Texas Independence Day Celebration”—presented by H-E-B—is an annual two-day living history celebration on Saturday and Sunday, March 3 and 4, 2018 on the 293-acre Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site to commemorate when 59 delegates bravely met in 1836 to make a formal declaration of independence from Mexico. After all, there is no better place to celebrate Texas independence than on the very spot “Where Texas Became Texas.” The free event features live music, food, traditional crafts, musket and cannon firings, Texas A&M University Singing Cadets, the Kids History Zone, “The Birth of a Republic” historical play about the signers of the declaration, Brenham Children’s Chorus and other commemorative programs. Historical reenactors set up a bonafide 1836 Texas Army camp where visitors can wander freely to learn how the soldiers and their families lived then. Admission fees are waived for the site’s attractions (Independence Hall; Star of the Republic Museum and Barrington Living History Farm) for that weekend celebration. Admission to the grounds, on-site shuttles and parking are also free. “Texas Independence Day Celebration” is presented by H-E-B and coordinated by the Washington on the Brazos State Park Association. Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site is halfway between Houston and Austin at 23400 Park Road 12, Washington, TX, 77880—off of State Hwy. 105. From Hwy. 105, follow either FM 912 or FM 1155 to Park Road 12. Contact: 936-878-2214 or jon.failor(at)tpwd.texas.gov.
March 3, 2018 through January 2019 – So Others Could Follow: Four Centuries of Maps That Define Texas – Star of the Republic Museum: The new museum exhibit will illustrate the evolution of Texas’ distinct shape, recognized around the world, is the result of four centuries of exploration and cartography. These maps from the Museum’s collection illustrate the evolution of the state, both topographically and politically.
April 21, 2018 – Sundown Social: 6 p.m., Rockin’ Star Ranch, Brenham, Texas. Dubbed the silver pompadoured, Lone Star beer drinkin', honky-tonk baritone by the Austin Chronicle, Dale Watson will be the showcase entertainment. Featuring a gourmet dinner, cocktails, concert and auctions filled with Texian treasures, all proceeds from this Texas-size party will benefit Washington on the Brazos State Park Association and its educational programming, events and maintenance of park grounds. Corporate/individual sponsorships available.
Permanent Exhibit – Pioneer Playroom – Star of the Republic Museum: The Museum’s Pioneer Playroom simulates an early Texas frontier homestead that allows participants to immerse themselves in the role of pioneers through role-playing, interactive experiences and a variety of learning styles. Children can load and sit on a buckboard wagon, dress in clothing characteristic of the period, build a log cabin, wash and hang laundry, haul water, milk a cow, gather eggs from a chicken coop and more. Free with paid admission to the Museum. For more information, contact Donna Barker at (936) 878-2461 ext. 245 or donna.barker(at)blinn.edu.
SCHEDULE OF SPECIAL EVENTS – JAN THROUGH MARCH 2018:
Unless noted otherwise, programs are open to all ages, but an adult must accompany any children. Visitors should dress appropriately for the season and be prepared for the weather as the events take place in 1850s period settings, with some portions outdoors. Visitors should call the park at (936) 878-2214 to confirm these dates and times; events subject to change based on weather, etc.
Through February 15, 2018 – Heirloom Genealogy: Tracing your Family Treasures – Star of the Republic Museum: In this exhibit, artifacts are examined in-depth through lineage research to reveal where the artifacts originated, who owned them, and how they got to Texas. Items in the exhibit include three-year-old Edward Boylan’s buckskin suit; Pleasant B. Watson’s diary; Heinrich Tiemann’s clog-making tools; and Clara Lang’s grand piano, among others.
January 6, 2018 – Cooking School: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Barrington Living History Farm): Learn old-fashioned cooking skills and help create a feast with staff guidance. Please wear old clothes and close-toed shoes. Class is limited to ten people, reservations required. Spaces often fill before the event is posted, but a waitlist is available. Contact Barb King at (936) 878-2214 ext. 246 or barb.king(at)tpwd.texas.gov.
January – TBA – Going Whole Hog: Everything but the Squeal: (Barrington Living History Farm): Harvesting and preserving meat for the coming year was an important task on the farm. Join the staff as they make sausage and cure meat. This event is weather dependent; call for date. Contact 936-878-2214 ext. 246.
January 20, 2018 – Living History Saturday: 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. – (Independence Hall and Old Washington Townsite): Travel back in time to where a nation was born in 1836 when staff and volunteers dressed in period clothing provide a unique opportunity for the entire family to discover various aspects of life during the Republic of Texas. This program will feature blacksmithing, 19th century medicine and quill pen writing. Visitors can sign a copy of the Texas Declaration of Independence; meet militia soldiers travelling through town; and play early Texas games. Activities will vary and some are weather dependent. Traditional tours of Independence Hall will not be offered on this day. Contact Jon Failor at (936) 878-2214, ext. 224 or jon.failor(at)tpwd.texas.gov.
January 20, 2018 – Hands-On-History – Buzz Saw Toys: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Star of the Republic Museum- Pioneer Playroom): Join museum staff on the third Saturday of each month to make crafts and toys that pioneer kids made during the Republic time, including Buzz Saw toys. Contact Donna Barker at (936) 878-2461, ext. 236 or Donna.barker(at)blinn.edu.
January 20, 2018 – Living History Saturday: 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. – (Independence Hall and Old Washington Townsite): Travel back in time to where a nation was born in 1836 when staff and volunteers dressed in period clothing provide a unique opportunity for the entire family to discover various aspects of life during the Republic of Texas. This program will feature 1836 cooking. Visitors can sign a copy of the Texas Declaration of Independence; meet militia soldiers travelling through town; and play early Texas games. Activities will vary and some are weather dependent. Traditional tours of Independence Hall will not be offered on this day. Contact Jon Failor at (936) 878-2214, ext. 224 or jon.failor(at)tpwd.texas.gov.
February 24, 2018 – Light in the Dark: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Barrington Living History Farm): To see at night on Barrington Farm—the home of the last president of Texas, Anson Jones—residents used “store bought” and homemade candles. The slaves might have used grease lamps, rush lights or started fires with flint and steel. Visitors six and older can dip candles, as long as supplies last. Contact Barb King at (936) 878-2214, ext. 246 or barb.king(at)tpwd.texas.gov.
March 3 & 4, 2018 – Texas Independence Day Celebration – see above for details.
Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site
There are many reasons to join the Washington on the Brazos State Park Association as a member and explore this Texas treasure. Besides the irreplaceable satisfaction of helping to uphold Texas history through the Association’s preservation projects, celebrations and programming, spending time at the park is an easy, inexpensive, educational and fun way to entertain families and visitors. Park Association membership levels are available for individuals, families and businesses and include free admission to the Site’s attractions for a year, and—for some levels—private parties during the park’s special celebrations.
The Park: The expansive park grounds of this state park along the Brazos River also provide a beautiful setting for picnicking, sightseeing and bird watching, as well as four geocaching sites—two each from TPWD and the Brenham/Washington County Chamber and CVB. It also features a Conference and Education Center, which is available for rent for meetings, weddings and reunions. An outdoor amphitheater and two pavilions are also available to rent.
Leashed pets are allowed in the park, but not allowed onto farm site or in the buildings. All attractions are accessible for the mobility impaired. For lodging information, please contact the Brenham Visitor Center at http://www.visitbrenhamtexas.com/ or 1-888-BRENHAM, or the city of Navasota at http://www.navasotagrimeschamber.com.
Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site is found on the Brazos River at the original townsite of Washington, Texas, a major political and commercial center in early Texas. It is located at 23400 Park Road 12, Washington, TX, 77880—approximately halfway between Brenham and Navasota, off of State Hwy. 105. From Hwy. 105, follow either FM 912 or FM 1155 to Park Road 12. For additional information, call (936) 878-2214 or visit the site’s website at http://www.wheretexasbecametexas.org.
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