Around Houston: Historic Sites, Homes & History Museums

McFaddin-Ward House in Beaumont | Photo: Carol M. Highsmith via Public Domain

Take a deep dive in the region’s rich history at 45+ century-old homes, museums and other historic sites Around Houston.

We’ve compiled some of the region’s deepest history found in century-old homes, museums and outdoor parks outside the city of Houston, including Baytown, Beaumont, Brazosport, Clear Lake and the Bay Area, Conroe, Deer Park, Galveston, Pearland, Port Arthur, Sugar Land and Tomball.

Most importantly, for the realities of 2020, safely visiting historic homes, museums and outdoor destinations can be a great way to explore the Houston region while maintaining social distance and getting out of the house.

Of course, it’s also important for you to consider any health precautions before heading out. Our picks below may have certain requirements or restrictions at this moment and these things can change quickly, so be sure to contact your destination ahead of time with any questions or concerns.

St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica | Courtesy of Beaumont CVB

Around Houston: Historic Sites, Homes & History Museums

Baytown

  • Baytown Historical Museum | FREE – Housed in a former post office, this museum offers visitors a chance to tour through the region’s history, from Native American tribes that originally inhabited the land through the industries that supported the city and beyond. Click here for more information.
  • Republic of Texas Plaza | FREE – Located on North Main Street, this plaza is host to the 1894 one-room Wooster School and 1910 Brown-McKay House, as well as the Baytown Historical Preservation Association. The site helps visitors to experience a sliver of rural life in a rice farming community, prior to the discovery of oil in the area. Private tours available by appointment, or open to the public on the third Saturday of each month. Click here for more information.

Beaumont

  • Dutch Windmill Museum | FREE – A tribute to Dutch settlers, this replica of a Dutch windmill stands forty feet tall and houses a museum that includes artifacts brought from Holland during settlement, as well as mementos of famous citizens of Nederland. Click here for more information.
  • Edison Museum | FREE – Dedicated to American inventor Thomas Edison, this museum features interactive exhibits, dozens of historic objects, more than 1,400 artifacts and a close examination of the ways Edison contributed to the electrical industry. Click here for more information.
  • Fire Museum of Texas | FREE – For more than thirty years, visitors to this museum have toured a collection of antique fire engines and firefighting equipment that date back to the 1800s. A great stop for families, kiddos can dress up in firefighter uniforms and take the fire engine simulator for a spin, or head outside for an easily ‘Grammable opportunity in front of a massive fire hydrant. Click here for more information.
  • Historic Homes in Beaumont – The southeast region is host to many historic homes that have been restored to their 19th and early 20th century glory. In and around Beaumont, La Maison Des Acadiens pays tribute to early French settlers; Heritage House Museum features historic artifacts from the region in a middle-upper class home built in 1902; John Jay French Museum was built in 1845 and allows visitors to explore what an early pioneer settlement was like; and The Chambers House, W.H. Stark House and McFaddin-Ward House offer turn-of-the-century homes to explore in their restored splendor.
  • Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown – On the campus of Lamar University, this educational park sets visitors on a self-guided tour through 15 replica buildings from the late-1800s atop the historic Spindletop oilfield. Through artifacts and the various structures on site, visitors get a view into the work and life of those that lived in the Gladys City oiltown. Check out their upcoming schedule for re-enactments of the Lucas Gusher. Click here for more information.
  • St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica | FREE – Built at the turn of the 20th century, this brick church has earned a distinction as a Texas Historic Landmark, as well as elevation to a Minor Basilica, recognized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. Guided tours are by appointment only, though visitors are free to walk through the Cathedral Basilica if no activities are in progress. Click here for more information.
  • Tyrrell Historical Library | FREE – Initially designed as First Baptist Church of Beaumont in 1903, this Texas Historic Landmark served as the public library of the city for nearly fifty years until a new building was opened in the mid-70s. A mix of Romanesque and Victorian Gothic architecture, it now houses extensive catalogs for genealogical research and Texas history, allowing visitors to browse newspaper clippings that document the area, or utilize their genealogy vertical files and online databases to chart information on families and pedigree. Click here for more information.
Varner-Hogg Plantation in West Columbia | Photo via Creative Commons

Brazosport

Lone Star Flight Museum | Courtesy of Visit Houston

Clear Lake, Kemah, League City & Bay Area

  • Bay Area Museum | FREE – Take in the history of the region at Bay Area Museum in Clear Lake Park, which features NASA memorabilia along with important archeological finds that belong to the Karankawa and Akokisa Native American tribes. Click here for more information.
  • Lone Star Flight Museum – Just blocks from Ellington Airport, this spacious all-things-flight museum gives visitors an up-close look at more than a dozen aircraft that chart evolving designs and uses from World War II Heavy Bombers to Air Force jets and more. The Lone Star Flight Museum also features the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, permanent and traveling gallery exhibitions, and high-flying experiences in their flight simulators. Click here for more information.
  • San Jacinto Monument – Located on the site of a decisive battle between Sam Houston and General Santa Anna, this towering war memorial stretches into the Texas skies and stands fifteen feet taller than the Washington Monument. Known for its observation deck, the Monument also features galleries of artifacts that span from ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations to Mexico and the Civil War, including artwork, uniforms and weaponry. Click here for more information.
  • Space Center Houston – The expansive NASA campus has etched itself into history, providing Mission Control for the historic Apollo flights, as well the ongoing space missions aboard the International Space Station. Here, visitors can explore an extensive collection of NASA and space exhibits, learn about the history of spaceflight and the courage of astronauts around the world, and take in the gargantuan sights of rockets, including the SpaceX Falcon, Saturn V, and Space Shuttle. The must-see tram tour will also take visitors through the campus, visiting Mission Control, seeing where the astronauts train for their missions and more. Click here for more information.
  • Texas City Museum – This 30,000-square-foot facility helps visitors to explore the heritage of Texas City and the surrounding region with exhibits that highlight Civil War-era artifacts, the 1947 Texas City Disaster, and other culturally significant people and events to the region. The museum also features the Children’s Discovery Room that boasts hands-on activities to help foster curious imaginations. Click here for more information.
Fernland Historical Park | Courtesy of the City of Montgomery

Conroe

  • Fernland Historic Park – Get a glimpse at history with these 19th-century homes and cabins, dating as far back as the 1830s. The self-guided tours give visitors a chance to take in early Texas architecture and come away with a sense of what life might have been like for early settlers. Click here for more information.
  • Heritage Museum of Montgomery County – Built in 1924, the historic Grogan-Cochran home houses the Heritage Museum, which examines the people, places and events that built Montgomery County into what it is today. Other exhibits look at art, Black history, and documents that trace the design and creation of the Lone Star Flag. Click here for more information.
  • The Madeley Building – For more than a century, this iconic brick building in Downtown Conroe has housed many vital companies in the city, from the original Madeley Meat Market to Conroe Communications Company, and now the Conroe Art League, whose gallery can be viewed on the ground floor. Tour information can be found at 936-756-9572.
  • N.H. Davis Pioneer Complex & Museum | FREE – Dating as far back as 1851, this pioneer home and museum features period furnishings and memorabilia that help to illustrate what pioneer life was life in the mid-19th century. Click here for more information.

Deer Park

  • Patrick’s Cabin | FREE – Serving a place in Texas Independence history, Dr. George Moffit Patrick’s cabin served as host to General Sam Houston as they drafted the initial treaty papers to secure Texas’ independence from Mexico after the Battle of San Jacinto. A representation of that cabin can be visited in Deer Park, a city which, as a result, bears the moniker of “The Birthplace of Texas”. Click here for more information.
  • Pratt Truss Bridge – Built in the late 1800s, this pin-connected iron truss bridge formerly brought visitors over the Leon River in Coryell County in central Texas, before being relocated over 100 years later to the Battleground Golf Course in Deer Park, where it now can be crossed near the site of historic battles between the armies of Mexico and Texas. Click here for more information.
The Historic Strand in Galveston | Courtesy of Visit Houston

Galveston

  • The Bryan Museum – Housing scores of artifacts, artwork and more, this museum invites visitors to explore the history of Texas and the American West on the beautiful grounds of the former Galveston Orphans Home. Click here for more information.
  • Galveston Naval Museum – Head over to Seawolf Park on the east side of the Island and check out the colossal vessels parked at the Galveston Naval Museum; the USS Cavalla, a World War II submarine, and the USS Stewart, the only Edsall-class destroyer escort preserved in the United States. Click here for more information.
  • Galveston Railroad Museum – Hop aboard for a journey through the history of this vital mode of transportation, complete with locomotives, passenger cars to explore, model trains, and the People’s Gallery, which features more than thirty plaster statues that help convey the role of railroading in Galveston. Swing by on Saturdays and kiddos can hop aboard the Harborside Express for a fifteen minute train ride west and back. Click here for more information.
  • Grand 1894 Opera House – A former Vaudeville stage, movie theater and now beloved opera house, The Grand keeps a packed schedule of live entertainment, including dance, drama, Broadway and renown musicians. The red stone, brick and terra cotta building has stood the test of time—even through the historic 1900 storm—and is available for free tours. Click here for more information.
  • Historic Homes in Galveston – The Island is host to many historic properties that dot Galveston and are available for touring, including the 1892 Bishop’s Palace, a beautifully ornate mix of stone and steel in Victorian fashion that rises above Broadway and Galveston’s East End Historic District; the Moody Mansion, which dates back to 1895, and showcases how one of the most powerful families in Texas live in opulent fashion at the turn of the century; and the 1838 Michel B. Menard House, which is the oldest home on Galveston Island and sends visitors on a tour of the first half of the 19th century with period furniture and furnishings.
  • Historic Strand District – The historic heart of the Island, this district is bustling with shops, restaurants and more, housed within buildings that have stood here for more than a century in their exquisite architecture. From here, the central location makes for a quick stroll over to the museums, boat tours and more along the harbor side. Click here for more information.
  • Rosenberg Library | FREE – Established in 1904, the ornate brick building on Sealy Avenue is the oldest public library in continuous operation in Texas, offering a slate of weekly programs, free wi-fi and a collection of historic manuscripts, maps, artifacts and other documents that can be found in the Galveston and Texas History Center. Click here for more information.
  • Texas Seaport Museum & 1877 Tall Ship Elissa – Near Pier 21 on the harbor side of Galveston, the Texas Seaport Museum brings visitors into the rich history of the Island and its important role in immigration, as well as merchant routes. The 1877 Tall Ship Elissa, docked outside, is one of only three ships of her kind in the world to still actively sail and visitors can take to the decks for a self-guided tour throughout the ship. Click here for more information.
Pompeiian Villa in Port Arthur | Courtesy of Museum of the Gulf Coast

Pearland

  • 1940 Air Terminal Museum – Located near Hobby Airport, this art deco terminal building was once the Houston Municipal Airport, though now it serves as a capsule of history, exploring airlines, aviation and a collection of aircraft that date back to the early 1940s. Click here for more information.

Port Arthur

  • Museum of the Gulf Coast – At this eclectic museum in Port Arthur, visitors get a taste of the history in the Gulf Coast region with memorabilia and galleries of native people, musicians, and athletes—including a replica of Janis Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche, artwork by Robert Rauschenberg, a 125-foot mural that paints the evolution of the area, and more. Click here for more information.
  • Pompeiian Villa – Built in 1900, this former home is a replica of villas built in Pompeii around 79 A.D., and is a registered Texas Historical Marker. It is available for touring during weekdays, though admission must be purchased through the Museum of the Gulf Coast. Click here for more information.
George Ranch Historical Park in Fort Bend | Photo: Carol M. Highsmith via Public Domain

Sugar Land

Tomball

  • Railroad Depot | FREE – The historic train depot features memorabilia, original art works, antiques, model railroads and a 1907 railroad car to explore. Click here for more information.
  • The Tomball Museum Center – Dedicated to the preservation of historical and educational pursuits, this museum center contains numerous antiques and artifacts, as well as more than a dozen buildings and structures from the turn-of-the-century era and older, helping visitors get in touch with bygone times and to appreciate the evolution of the region. Click here for more information.

Social Distancing & COVID-19

Businesses in Houston have opened under modified protocols, following guidelines administered by local health officials, the State of Texas and CDC. At this time, guidance from experts urges people to continue wearing face masks when in public spaces, practice social distancing of at least six feet, limit your touching of surfaces and frequently use hand sanitizer or soap and water to keep your hands clean.

Before heading out, take time to familiarize with your destination’s requirements or restrictions at this moment, and be sure to contact them ahead of time with any questions or concerns.

McFaddin-Ward House in Beaumont | Photo: Carol M. Highsmith via Public Domain

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