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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Reopening Celebration at the Sam Rayburn House Museum

By Anne Ruppert, Sam Rayburn House Museum

After one year of closure and nine months of extensive exterior restoration, the Sam Rayburn House Museum reopened to the public during an event on Saturday, March 17. Site Manager Carole Stanton served as the master of ceremonies during the celebration, which was held on the home’s restored front porch. Dignitaries who spoke during the event included Bonham Mayor Roy Floyd, Friends of Sam Rayburn President Allen Sanderson, Rep. Larry Phillips, Sen. Bob Deuell, Texas Historical Commission (THC) Executive Director Mark Wolfe, and Rayburn family members.

Several Rayburn family members who made the trek to Bonham to attend the festivities received a special preview tour of the house with Carole Stanton. Rayburn relatives who attended included great niece Linda Cormack, great nephew Robert Bartley, Jr., and great, great nephew Eric Langford.

The free event included tours of the house, the display of Sam Rayburn’s 1947 Cadillac Fleetwood, and admission to the museum’s exhibit gallery featuring a new exhibit, “Bringing Order to the House: The Restoration of the Sam Rayburn House Museum,” a detailed interpretation of the recent restoration. Refreshments were provided by Brookshire’s and the Friends of Sam Rayburn. Other groups who assisted with the event included the CAP Texoma Composite Squadron TX-262, Fannin County 4-H, and staff from the THC and local THC historic sites, including Eisenhower Birthplace in Denison and Sam Bell Maxey House in Paris.

Restoration work at the site began in June 2011, though the site closed to the public in March 2011 to allow staff time to pack and move the many artifacts that make up the furnishings and personal belongings in the house. The home, originally constructed by Rayburn and members of his family in 1916, became a historic house museum in 1975. Time, use, and gradual deterioration necessitated the restoration.

The purpose of the restoration was twofold: to restore the home’s historic appearance and preserve the structure. THC architects worked alongside preservation architecture firm Quimby-McCoy and contractor Phoenix I Restoration Construction to complete the project.

Specific structural preservation aspects of the project included replacing deteriorated wood siding and framing, stabilizing the foundation, restoring windows, roofing, and painting. The home now resembles its 1961 appearance (the year Rayburn died) because of the restoration of several historic elements. The construction crew restored the former concrete porch to its wood and brick appearance during Rayburn’s lifetime. They also demolished concrete sidewalks on the north side of the home and installed a paving stone walkway extending from the porch. A rear porch, enclosed as an office for site staff, was returned to its original function as a screened porch enjoyed by the Rayburn family after its addition to the home in 1934.

The museum has several activities planned for the spring and summer. On Saturday, May 19, Rayburn’s Cadillac will be on display during the Bonham Veteran’s Administration car show. On Saturday, July 28, the museum will feature a display of Rayburn’s historic quilts and quilts from Sam Bell Maxey House’s collection during Bonham’s annual Quilt Hop. Mark your calendars now for these upcoming events!

The Sam Rayburn House Museum is located at 890 W. State Hwy. 56, two miles west of Bonham, in the Texas Lakes Trail Region. The home is open for tours Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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