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2018 Brazos Heritage Society Annual Meeting

Written by Brazos Heritage President on . Posted in Announcements

Come join us for this year’s Brazos Heritage Society annual meeting on Saturday, February 10, 2018 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Museum of the American GI (http://americangimuseum.org/) off Hwy. 6 South in College Station.

In honor of the year-long commemoration of America’s entry into World War I, this year’s presentation will be on the impact of WWI in the Brazos Valley; the presentation will be followed by our annual business meeting and elections.

After the meeting, we will serve finger foods and guests can tour the Museum’s exhibits from various war eras, including World War I. Among other fascinating items, they currently have the only fully restored, functional French Renault tank in the United States.

NOTE: Because of the venue, this event is open only to Brazos Heritage Society members. However, memberships are only $10 for individuals or $15 for families. You can purchase or renew a membership by mail, online at our Become a Member page, or at the door the night of the event.

For planning purposes, we ask that you please RSVP no later than Monday, February 5, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. by contacting brazos.heritage@gmail.com or 979-777-4924.

We hope you’ll join us for this event.

2016 Annual Meeting

Written by Brazos Heritage President on . Posted in Announcements

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Brazos Center (3232 Briarcrest Drive Bryan, TX 77802)

3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. – Meeting

5:00 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.  – Reception

Speakers:

Steven Gonzales, Executive Director, El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historical Trail Association

Steven will talk about the history of the trail as well as the current signage project by the association, with an emphasis on the upcoming Brazos County section.

Dr. Paul Spellman, author of Old 300: Gone to Texas

Dr. Spellman will discuss his 2014 book, a finalist for the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion Award for best frontier nonfiction and a fascinating look at the founding settlers of Austin’s Colony.

Please RSVP to brazos.heritage@gmail.com or Stephanie Hilliard at 979-777-4924.

Temple Freda Restoration: One Step Closer to Reality

Written by Brazos Heritage President on . Posted in Blog

As first reported in last November’s newsletter, there is an ongoing push to restore Temple Freda, Bryan’s first Jewish synagogue and one of only three in the world named for a woman. Unfortunately, the process ground to a halt for some months; the last work done on the structure consisted of removing the endangered stained glass windows and boarding up the openings to protect the interior. Those windows currently reside at Foster Stained Glass waiting to be restored.

Twice over the past couple months Randy Hilliard, our Events Chair, and I met with The Friends of Temple Freda, the citizen group heading up the push to restore the synagogue. Brazos Heritage Society has been asked to partner with them, as we are a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit. As such, we can receive and hold donations for the project, as well as assist in applying for grants and other funding. Not only do we bring 30 years of historic preservation experience to the project, but also we offer an established organization that can serve as an anchor point for the process.

We typically meet at Arkitex Studio in downtown Bryan, the architectural firm involved in the project. The Friends group consists of Dr. William Bassichis (Temple Freda’s caretaker for over 30 years), Stephanie Sale (local artist), College Station Mayor Nancy Berry, Eva Read-Warden (Arkitex Studio) and her husband Robert Warden (Professor of Architecture at Texas A&M), Judge Tom McDonald, Randy Haynes and Lindsey Guindi with the City of Bryan, Nan Ross (Head Librarian for the Carnegie Library), Sylvia Grider (Retired Professor of Anthropology,
Texas A&M University), and Lewis Ford (a physics professor at Texas A&M University).

We’ve spent significant time exploring what needs to happen overall, as well as determining what specifically needs to occur first in order to make this restoration a reality. The final consensus was to start with a comprehensive structural engineering report, provided by Sparks Engineering. This report will detail the issues with the structure and provide a solid sense of the problems that need to be addressed.

This initial structural engineering report costs $2,500. Fundraising is underway, primarily via donations from members The Friends of Temple Freda.

However, we are always open to assistance from interested members and supporters of the Brazos Heritage Society. As soon as the $2,500 is raised, Sparks Engineering will be authorized to start the report process. To date, we’ve raised a little over $1,750.

While we do not yet have hard numbers on overall project cost, we’re honestly estimating approximately $1 million to restore Temple Freda to her former glory. Obviously, this is not a cheap undertaking. However, this beautiful structure is not only worthy of saving in its own right for its historical value, it also adds to the continuing beautification of downtown Bryan, further enhancing the area and increasing public usage. When the restoration is complete, the City of Bryan plans to utilize the venue for community events and appropriate private gatherings.

A Structure Rises: the Turner-Peters Dogtrot Cabin Near Completion

Written by Brazos Heritage President on . Posted in Blog

Cedar wood walls stand strong and firm once more, cracks in the process of being chinked, while near the wrought iron entrance gates paving stones have been set in place for the amphitheater where six flags will stand tall, representing those symbols of national sovereignty flown at various times over Texas since her birth. This same half-circle will provide seating for 60 and a place for Texas history teachers and docents to lead historical presentations for classes and visitors. The amphitheater is connected to the cabin by a walkway composed of crushed granite composite and paving stones at either end.

The cedar shake roof shelters the two living areas and the dog “trot” from the elements, These rooms will once again hold period treasures, showing how the owners likely lived back when the cabin was new and stood on the open prairie land of what was once Brazos, and later Grimes, County.

The Turner-Peters Dogtrot Cabin now nears completion of Phase I, with the structure reassembled, roofed and awaiting finishing touches. To the right stands a model of the cistern that would have once been the source of family water. Across from the entry gates, a walkway leads to a shaded area where a replica cannon will sit, patterned on the famous Twin Sisters. This artillery piece has been donated by Samuel W. Smith, a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress pilot awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross medal, former Texas A&M Chemical Engineering professor, and history enthusiast. Mr. George Nelson will serve as cannoneer, heading up a six-man crew for those rare times when the piece is actually fired.

In later phases, bronze statues of Texas Ranger Eli Seale, Hiram Hanover (first Boonville postmaster and later State Representative), and Texas President Sam Houston will be grouped. A fourth bronze of Harvey Mitchell, Father of Brazos County, will be placed near the entrance across from the amphitheater.

A labor of love by the Sons of the Texas Republic, this historic structure is ultimately envisioned as the core of a Boonville Historic Site, with additional representations of pioneer life in the town of Boonville, once the seat of Navasota, later Brazos, County.

The site is scheduled to open after Labor Day with a small public event; the first general opening for public visitation is scheduled to coincide with Boonville Days on October 10. A formal dedication will take place in Spring 2016 in conjunction with the Brazos County Historical Commission’s celebration for the 175th anniversary of Brazos County’s creation, and with all planned features in place.

The site will need docents who can be available whenever a school tour or other event is held. If you are interested, please contact us at brazos.heritage@gmail.com. We are functioning as a liaison on the project for the Sons of the Republic of Texas and can help you connect with the appropriate people. In the meantime, I urge you to stop by the site, located east of the Kroger center on Boonville Rd. and view the progress that is being made. It is really a beautiful development and I am excited to see it come together at last. If you would like to donate to the costs of restoring the cabin, or its operation as an historical site, please visit our website at http://brazosheritage.org/projects/turner-petersdogtrot-cabin-project/ where you can securely donate via PayPal. You may also send a check, made out to Brazos Heritage Society, to P.O. Box 1776, Bryan, TX 77806. Any and all assistance is appreciated.

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