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Friday, May 6, 2011

Restoration and Renovation at the Sam Rayburn House Museum

By Anne Ruppert, Sam Rayburn House Museum

Changes are coming to the Sam Rayburn House Museum. A restoration for the site begins this month, which has been in the planning stages for several years and will positively impact both the appearance of the house and the physical structure.

In March, the community had its first opportunity to see the proposed architectural changes when the museum opened the exhibit, “Preserving the Speaker’s Legacy: Restoration and Renovation at the Sam Rayburn House Museum.” The exhibit highlights the multiple restoration projects proposed for Sam Rayburn’s home in Bonham and is also now available on the museum’s website.

Along with details of the renovation, the exhibit includes historic photos illustrating how the work will return the structure as closely as possible to its appearance in 1961, a significant year because it marks Rayburn’s death and therefore the last year he lived in the house. The home’s front porch, walkways, and screened-in porch will return to their 1960s appearance. Along with these changes, construction crews will replace rotting wood from the exterior walls and around the home’s windows. They will also modify and secure window screens and replace missing hardware from the doors and windows.

The museum’s visitors center will receive a facelift, too. Crews will enlarge the concrete walkway around the building, upgrade and modify the public restrooms, remove the chain link fence, and construct a new handicap-accessible sidewalk from the building to the house. 

In addition to the proposed renovation of the house and visitors center, the “Preserving the Speaker’s Legacy” exhibit also features photos and text panels about the recent renovation of Rayburn’s garage, including installing heating and cooling systems, burglar and fire alarms, and thoroughly enclosing the building to protect against dust, pollutants, pests, and insects.

This renovation was necessitated by recent mechanical work done to Rayburn’s 1947 Cadillac Fleetwood. The car now is on display within the environmentally controlled and secured garage and is easily accessible to visitors thanks to the new concrete floor and interior modification that open more viewing space to visitors.

The “Preserving the Speaker’s Legacy” exhibit is on view at the Sam Rayburn House Museum visitors center and will remain open during much of the restoration project. Tours of the site are currently limited to the visitors center and are free.

The Sam Rayburn House Museum is located at 890 W. State Hwy. 56, two miles west of Bonham, in the Texas Lakes Trail Region.

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