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.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Introducing New Web Sites for the THC Historic Sites

by Jennifer O'Hair, web content coordinator

All of us on the THC's historic sites staff have something to be very thankful for this Thanksgiving — new web sites! Each of our state historic sites has been upgraded from a single web page to a full, stand-alone web site. A variety of new features will help you discover more about the real stories of these real places in Texas and get you started planning your next visit to the sites, such as the Starr Family Home shown below.

To explore the new web sites, go to and select a historic property to open its new web site. Here are a few of the new features worth checking out:
  • Events calendar – Keep up with what's going on at the sites.
  • Share Your Story – Tell us about your visit to the sites or memories of them from the past, and read about the real experiences of others.
  • FAQs – Get your questions answered before you head out to see the sites.
  • Share & Bookmark – Use the Share & Bookmark feature in the upper-right corner of each page to share what you learn in an email to a friend or a post to your Facebook, Twitter and more.
  • Our Stories – Explore the real stories behind each of the historic sites, such as Sam Rayburn's 1947 Cadillac shown below.

We hope you enjoy the new web sites as much as we do. Leave a comment below and let us know what you think! We'll be continuing to add more interpretive and educational content to the sites, and we plan to incorporate additional features, such as video and podcasts, in the future.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Casa Navarro to Have a White Christmas

by Sarah Tober, senior marketing specialist for the Historic Sites

Thanks to the efforts of José (the site manager of Casa Navarro), staff and a few volunteers, Casa Navarro State Historic Site will be gleaming white again in time for Christmas! José is completing the annual whitewashing of all the main buildings and some of the Austin staff headed down to San Antonio to lend a hand. The team included Glenn, Ellen, Hal and I. We rolled up our sleeves and dared to get dirty as we methodically applied the whitewash to the exterior walls and eagerly learned about making the wash.

To make the whitewash, José starts with a lime mix in five one-gallon buckets mixed with water. In another mix he utilizes the diced cactus he has harvested from the big cactus plant on the grounds. He lets the cactus soak in water for a few days to release its gooey juices, which provide an adhesive base for the whitewash. Once the two compounds are mixed together, it’s ready to apply to the walls. Long precise strokes are necessary for even distribution of the wash, an art Ellen easily mastered.

We also had the opportunity to check out the newly recovered 16-foot-deep cistern on the property. The cistern was once used for storing captured rainwater from the roofs and is being restored again for the same use. We were able to climb down and observe the unique space inside the cistern two and three staff members at a time. I captured some pictures of the staff emerging from the cistern, like this one of Hal. Look for more on the restoration and use of the cistern to come!

**Casa Navarro is located in downtown San Antonio at the corner of S. Laredo and W. Nueva streets in the Texas Independence Trail and Hill Country Trail Regions.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Good News from the Maxey House!

by Lynn Deal, site manager for the Sam Bell Maxey House

Here at the Sam Bell Maxey House we are celebrating great news for the Friends of the Maxey House, a 501(c) 3 organization that supports our mission. On Oct. 27, the Friends of the Maxey House received the Lamar County Chamber of Commerce 2009 Visionaries Award. The award recognized the Friends’ 16-year-commitment to the Sam Bell Maxey House State Historic Site (formerly known as the Sam Bell Maxey House State Historic Structure) through their various contributions, including the purchase and planting of flowers on the Maxey grounds.

The transition of site ownership from Texas Parks & Wildlife to a state museum run by the Texas Historical Commission, as well as the state’s current four-year exterior preservation project at the Sam Bell Maxey House was also acknowledged at the awards ceremony. The Friends of the Maxey House currently consists of approximately 65 members. Seven of the 15 board members were present to receive the award at the Chamber’s 105th awards banquet. The current board includes President Daisy Harvill, Vice President Laura Carrington, Treasurer Judy Gibbons, Secretary Phyllis Bryan, Chairman Carl Covert, Judy Martin, Brady Fisher, Jeanette Bender, Caroleen Thornton, Betty Ann Entzminger, Martha Stephens, Devon Mason, Armand Frank, George Kimbrough and Arvin Starrett. A big congratulations goes out to our Friends, we appreciate all you do!

**The Sam Bell Maxey House is located in Paris at the corner of Church and Washington streets in the Texas Lakes Trail Region.