A chance drive by led to a visit to the National Museum of Funeral History. This museum is located on the north side of Houston just of I-45 at exit 64. The building itself doesn’t stand out and you might just drive by it without giving the industrial-looking facade a second glance. Instead, consider paying the reasonable entrance fee (around $10 or under with discount) and take in the some 35,000 items on display through this museum’s permanent and special exhibits. All of which focus on the history of funerals. Such exhibits include:
Some of the more interesting findings during my tour of the museum continues as follows:
Presidential Funerals Exhibit
Copy of George Washington’s Funeral Bill and Eulogy
News Clipping of Lincoln’s Death
FDR’s Death News Clipping
History of Embalming
The Museum Display of Egyptian Mummification
Early 19th Century Embalming Supplies
Coffins and Caskets
A Glass Coffin
Fantasy Coffins from Ghana Exhibit
Hearse of Princess Grace of Monaco
One can get away from what some may consider the urban jungle of Houston to find a tranquil and beautiful oasis just a few minutes away. The Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens was once a grand family estate of Ima Hogg from 1882 until 1975. The estate is now part of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and still houses some of the Hogg families collection of American furnishings, art, and decor representing the Colonial period to the late 19th Century. There are a total of 28 rooms in the Estate and touring the Estate is well worth your time.
In addition, you can enjoying the 14-acres of exceptionally maintained gardens and take time to explore the gift shop as you cross back over the Bayou to the parking area. A visit that I enjoyed for part of a day in Houston.
Bayou Bend Suspension Bridge
This Bayou Bend Suspension Bridge has went through a complete renovation and overlooks the Bayou. This bridge provides a scenic entry from Memorial Park to the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. The unusual wooden suspension bridge, designed by engineer Walter P. Moore, is owned and maintained by The City of Houston.
The Massachusetts Room
In the Massachusetts room, all the furnishings in this exceptionally decorated room are from (of course) Massachusetts.
Foyer and Grand Staircase
You can also learn about the Varner-Hogg Plantation and find out about the connection between the two properties by reading my post- A Visit to the Varner-Hogg Plantation during a recent visit to Houston.
Learn more about the Bayou Bend Collection by Clicking on the Image Below
Galveston Island, Texas
Have you ever had the itch to travel and just booked something a couple of weeks or days in advance? We recently did this for a trip to the great state of Texas. The historic island of Galveston is where we spent three of our five day adventure.
Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier
There are many opportunities for exploration while on this Gulf coast historic island. The location is ideal at about 50 miles southeast of Houston, Galveston is an easy getaway for a weekend beach retreat, family adventure, of just enjoy what nature has to offer. In addition, you can explore the 32 miles of soft sands here. Check out the 2,000-acre Galveston Island State Park for beach, fishing, kayak, or bird watching options.
Two major hurricanes in 1900 and 1915 have changed the course of this town and island forever, but Galveston continues to be a major destination along the Texas Gulf Coast. The charming 19th-Century homes are worth just strolling along the historic neighborhoods or touring. These tours could include: The Moody Mansion, the Bishop’s Palace, or museums such as Galveston Railroad Museum and the Texas Seaport Museum, home to the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa, to discover how the city’s port.
Incinerator at Moody Mansion
The Bishop’s Palace or Gresham’s house is a circa 1892 stone shaped with steel structure designed by Nicholas Clayton. This gorgeous home survived the Great Storm of 1900 and is worthy of a tour either with a docent (if time allows) or via s self-guided audio tour. We opted in for the the “Basement to Attic” tour and were not disappointed in this 2 1/2 hour explore of the home.
You can walked along the Seawall. This protective barrier of the ever-changing tides of Gulf of Mexico began after the devasting hurricane of 1900. It stretches some seven miles and is about 17 feet tall. It is more than just a protective barrier offering the famous and historic Pleasure Pier and the newer Moody Gardens. with its pyramids and golf course. The Moody Gardens are not to be confused with Moody Mansion as they are in two separate locations on the island.
Where did we Stay?
Avenue O Bed & Breakfast
Jeff & Polly, the owners of this lovely 3 room (all private rooms) are the hosts that go above and beyond to make your stay enjoyable. Polly’s breakfast is worth waking up for as she is a top chef. You can enjoy a evening drink (if desired) on the front porch or in the living room. We highly recommend considering this well appointed B & B with free parking for your next stay in Galveston.
Please share your experiences when visiting Galveston. Did I miss anything?
A recent trip to Houston and Galveston included a short drive to West Columbia to visit the Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historic Site. The site is now part of the Texas Historical Commission site and there is a connection to the old Three-hundred settlers. These settlers received land grants from Stephen E. Austin’s first colony.
An interesting fact about this former sugar plantation is that it is named for the first and last owner leaving out the middle owners; ‘The Pattons.” The Pattons owned the plantation through most of the 19th Century until the Governor Hogg purchased the property in 1902 shortly after the Galveston Hurricane. It remained in the Hogg family until his daughter Ima donated the property to the state in 1957 along with her collection of American antique furniture. The furniture has since been moved to the other Hogg home in Houston (more on this other wonderful home in another post).
Old Slave Bell
The Varner-Hogg plantation is a restored example of Greek Revival Great House. The grounds are wonderfully landscaped. You can explore the 65+ acres finding a sugarcane mill ruin, the site of slave quarters, and a pecan orchard. In addition, oil was found on the property and you can learn more about the history of oil production on the plantation. The plantation did have slaves and the above video does a good job detailing the history enslaved individuals on the property. Other areas to explore while visiting the historic site include: the Patton family cemetery, foundation ruins of the sugar mill, and the site of several slave quarters.
A Picture with a Thousand Words
Galveston Island, Texas
Galveston Island has some wonderful historical sites including the Moody Mansion, the Bishop’s Palace, St. Joseph Church, and of course, the Pleasure Pier just to name a few. I will be exploring each of these in upcoming posts. There is still more to learn about this wonderful island. Galveston Island has experienced its share of natural disasters through the years including the Great Hurricane of 1900, which stands as the deadliest hurricane in the U.S.
Oleander Hotel- Red Light District
Hotel Name Found On Current Stair Leading to Second Floor
During a recent visit, we were intrigued (only on the past- mind you) of this city’s history and came across what is now known as the Antique Warehouse. This form Oleander Hotel was once a 28 room Brothel with many other Brothels along the same 5 block area of the island.
In fact, it was the Hansons who purchased the 100-year old former Oleander Hotel (aka Brothel) who discovered that on the unused second floor were the 28 rooms sealed away for years was were the prostitutes plied their trades. These rooms had been sealed away for decades at a top of a rotting staircase.
Door to the Men’s bathroom- aka for the Johns leading to the second story brothel.
The Antique Warehouse is located between the corner Postoffice and 25th Street in heart of Galveston’s former red-light district. In the past, dozens of brothels had lined Galveston’s Postoffice Street from 25th to 29th, forming a district known as The Line. You can learn more Galveston’s Red Light District Past by Reading this book by Kimber Fountain In addition, there are tours being offered of this district.
Licenses for Prostitution
These past happenings of Galveston is no different than many cities past or present and offers the opportunity for us to learn from the past to grow for the present and future. Please explore what Galveston has to offer including some great seafood, history, and people.