From western forts to Victorian mansions and pivotal battlegrounds, the Texas Historical Commission's 20 state historic sites exemplify a breadth of Texas history. Come explore the real stories at the real places.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Restoration of Fort Griffin's Centennial Monument

In May of this year, the Centennial Monument at Fort Griffin was cleaned, restored and reassembled to its original 1936 Centennial configuration (see 1936 image at left). Originally comprised of three bronze bas-reliefs and massive blocks of pink granite from Marble Falls, Texas, the reliefs had been separated from their base by Texas Parks and Wildlife in 1969–70 and attached to a sloped sandstone wall near the entrance of Fort Griffin visitor's center. The granite blocks were dumped in a field below the visitor’s center, where they remained for 40 years.

The granite base of the monument was designed by architects Page & Sutherland and the reliefs were created by French sculptors Raoul Josset and Jose Martin. The bronze panels are rendered in the team’s signature Art Deco style and depict pioneers, buffalo hunters and surveyors who opened West Texas to Anglo-American settlement. Josset and Martin came to Texas as members of the artistic team responsible for creating many of the primary sculptures and building facades of Dallas's Fair Park for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition.

Originally situated in the middle of the historic parade ground, the monument now graces the western edge of the fort and its grand silhouette greets visitors as they arrive at the site.

Here are a few highlights of the two-week restoration process:

From 1969–2009, the bronze panels were attached to a sandstone wall at Fort Griffin's entrance.

The restoration specialist removed the bronze plaques from the sandstone wall.

The conservator removed areas of loose corrosion from the plaques using bronze brushes and bronze wool.

A coat of butcher’s wax was applied to help unify the appearance of the plaques and to provide temporary protection against the elements; the wax will wear off in approximately six months.

Each granite block was hauled from the field below the visitor's center by an all-terrain forklift.

The restoration specialist cleaned, gently scrubbed and rinsed all granite blocks with a stone cleaning solution.

The forklift helped to set the stones in place.

With restoration and reassembly complete, the monument is finished!

Written by Laura DeNormandie-Bass, Chief Curator for the THC's State Historic Sites

Friday, September 18, 2009

Free Admission on Museum Day, Sept. 26

Enjoy FREE admission at three state historic sites next weekend. Casa Navarro, Fulton Mansion and Sam Rayburn House Museum will be participating in the 5th annual Museum Day, presented by Smithsonian magazine on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009. To gain free entry, visitors must present the Museum Day Admission Card, which can be downloaded from Come on out and enjoy Texas history for free!

Sam Rayburn's Cadillac at the Sam Rayburn House Museum.

Children learning how to make adobe at Casa Navarro.

The ornate exterior of Fulton Mansion.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Live WWII Reenactments in Fredericksburg

You have two more chances this year to catch the live World War II reenactments at the National Museum of the Pacific War, as part of its 2009 Living History Program. Bring the family this weekend, Sept. 12–13, and experience this lively lesson in history firsthand. The program will occur three times each day: 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Click here for a sneak preview. The last reenactment of 2009 will be Nov. 7–8.

The National Museum of the Pacific War is the only institution in the continental U.S. dedicated exclusively to the story of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and World War II in the Pacific Theater. The museum is located in Fredericksburg and is part of the Texas Hill Country Trail Region.