Step into the Past Historical Tours are open! Public tours are every Saturday from 10am to 5pm (unless otherwise stated).
TIP: Start at the Visitor Center (open 10-3) to pick up a brochure about the attractions and plan your day. Many sites are within walking distance in Downtown Brenham.
The Barnhill Center at the Simon Theatre – Originally opened in 1925, the historic Theatre has been completely restored and is now being enjoyed by many for music, movies, weddings and more. Visitors can see the movie, The Dawn of Washington County, in the beautiful theatre most Saturdays at 11am, 1pm and 2pm. Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for children.
Glissmann Drug Store Museum – A fascinating pharmacy that looks exactly like it did in 1924, complete with medicines and equipment used in that era. A short movie will introduce visitors to Carl Glissmann and his processes for mixing medicines by hand. Admission is free of charge.
Brenham Fire Museum – Visitors can see up-close three antique fire trucks from Brenham’s past, two of which are rare – the only ones in Texas of their kind. Tourists will also learn the exciting history of the Brenham Fire Department and the annual Maifest celebration. Admission is free of charge.
Brenham Heritage Museum – New exhibits and three short movies have been added to the gallery for Step into the Past. The five-minute movies introduce guests to important Brenham forefathers and the German heritage of our county – including Maifest. New interactive activities for children are popular. Admission to the Museum gallery is $3 for adults and $1 for children. (NOTE: The museum is currently closed for renovations.)
Toubin Park – Opened in 2011, the park is part of Step into the Past for its original cistern built around 1878. Toubin Park displays give details about the Washington County Railroad, the Burning of Brenham, and the city’s Texas Archeological Landmark – a system of historic cisterns. Admission is free of charge.
WASHINGTON COUNTY SITES:
Independence Visitor Center – Inside the historic Adobe House (c 1835), visitors are welcome to come here to learn about the history of this small community where Baylor University began, where Mrs. Sam Houston resided and where she is buried, where the oldest Baptist church in Texas sits and more. Open 10-4 (closed in July & during Spring Tours – March 18, March 25-April 1 and April 8).
Independence Baptist Church – Organized in 1839, the Independence Baptist Church was the leading Baptist church and supporter of missionary work during the Republic of Texas, and is the congregation in which Sam Houston was baptized. In addition to the historic church, you can also see the burial ground of Margaret Lea Houston, Sam Houston’s widow, and the Texas Baptist Museum where such artifacts as the original 1856 church bell are exhibited. Open Tues-Sat 9-4. Free admission.
Coles Settlement – In 1822, John and Mary Eleanor Coles migrated from Georgia to Texas with their two children and three slaves. Coles was given extensive holdings when the Mexican government issued land grants, making him one of the “Old Three Hundred” to settle in Texas. Around 1825, the family came to what is now the Independence area and established Coles Settlement.
Old Baylor Columns and Baylor on Windmill Hill – Discover the beginnings of Baylor University. The park-like setting at the columns is a great place to take a breath of fresh air – swings and picnic tables are available. (Open daily, self guided.)
Burton Cotton Gin – The Cotton Gin in Burton is home to a 1925 Bessemer Type IV diesel oil engine. The restored 16 ton “Lady B” is the largest internal combustion engine of its vintage still operating in America! Tours of the Gin are given Tues-Sat at 10am and 2pm for a small fee. Admission to the museum is free, open Tues-Sat 10-4.
Burton Depot – From 1870 to the early 1950s the depot was the center of town, where locals and visitors gathered.
Chappell Hill Museum – The Museum and Gift Shop are housed in the last public school building of the Chappell Hill I.S.D. The red brick structure is located on the site of the Chappell Hill Female College. Built in 1927, it served as only one of the schools in the area until 1965. The completely redesigned museum tells the intriguing story of a town once seemingly destined for greatness, but diminished by the ill fortunes of fate and history. Open Wed-Sat 10-4; Sun 1-4pm.
Old Rock Store – Constructed in 1869 using native sandstone and cedar, was originally built for use as a general store. Over the years it has served as as a feed store, a butcher shop and, at one time, housed the Chappell Hill Post Office.
Providence Baptist Church – Built approximately two and a half miles northwest of Chappell Hill, this building was destroyed by a violent storm in 1866. Part of the congregation continued to meet in the Presbyterian Church in Chappell Hill until the present building was completed in 1873.
Washington on the Brazos – Three sites in one location, all representing Texas’ beginnings. The Declaration of Independence from Mexico was signed here, giving this state historic site the name “The Birthplace of Texas.” Enjoy walking trails, Independence Hall, a beautiful Visitor Center and gift shop, Star of the Republic Museum, and Barrington Living History Farm.
Enjoy the journey of exploration while you reconnect with our history, countryside and your family and friends!