Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site

In the early days of March 1836, the fate of a revolution hung in the balance. The Alamo was under siege by the forces of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana while the Texian Army led by Sam Houston was in the midst of a hasty retreat. It was in this moment of crisis that 59 delegates from across the territory gathered in Washington, Texas to do something few have ever done: found a nation. In just 17 days, they signed a formal Declaration of Independence from Mexico and crafted the first constitution of the Republic of Texas. The course of world history changed forever in these early days of March, but there was still a war to be won.

All of this captivating history lives on to this very day at Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site, an absolute must-visit for fans of Texas history. Covering nearly 300 acres of verdant Central Texas terrain, the historic site provides a one-of-a-kind immersion into the Lone Star State’s distant past. Step into a replica of Independence Hall, where the 59 delegates met. Admire the in-depth exhibits at the state-of-the-art Star of the Republic Museum. Then travel back to 1850 at the Barrington Living History Farm, the original home of the last president of the Republic of Texas, Dr. Anson Jones—farmed today just as it was in the 1850’s.

Throughout this journey into Texas’ storied past, you’ll discover things you never knew about the people who helped make the Lone Star State into what it is today. All the while, you’ll enjoy the array of colorful flowers, migratory birds and gorgeous scenery that draws nature lovers year-round. So, what are you waiting for? Read on to see what the park’s three main attractions are, then plan your trip to “Where Texas Became Texas.” 

Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site Attractions

Barrington Living History Farm

A visit to the Barrington Living History Farm is akin to stepping back to mid-19th century Texas, when pioneer settlers were first settling the land. Watch historical reenactors dressed in period clothing utilize methods and materials from the time to plant, cultivate, and harvest the farm. Get an up-close look at the tools used by farmers of the day, lend a hand if you like and then tour a variety of homes and buildings that represent the kind you’d find on the Texas frontier. The farm is set up so you can explore at your own pace. However, if you are coming with a group of 20 or more, you’ll need to set up a tour in advance.

Independence Hall

The aptly named Independence Hall is where the 59 representatives met to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence and craft the first constitution. Today, the replica of the frame building stands as a monument to the formation of the Republic of Texas. Visit on the third Saturday of the month and you’ll see reenactors dressed in period clothing bring the tales and events of Washington on the Brazos to life. During the event, known as Living History Saturdays, you’ll write with a quill pen, sign a copy of the Texas Declaration of Independence, play some early Texas games and chat with the militia soldiers as they make their way through town.

Star of the Republic Museum

Much of the history, culture and heritage of the Republic of Texas is faithfully chronicled in the Star of the Republic Museum. Stroll through the exhibit halls to see displays of weapons, clothing, artwork and artifacts that tell the story of the people who called the new nation home.

In addition to its permanent collection, the museum hosts rotating exhibits that provide some insight into life in Texas in the mid-19th century.

Admire the displays, then take your little ones to The Pioneer Playroom, a new permanent exhibit in the museum that simulates an early Texas frontier homestead.

Your children can immerse themselves into the pioneer life through role-playing, interactive experiences and a variety of hands-on activities, including building a log cabin, loading and sitting on a buckboard wagon, and dressing in period clothing.

Fanthorp Inn State Historic Site

Travel about 20 miles northeast of Washington on the Brazos past verdant rolling hills and scenic farms and you’ll find another gem of Texas history: the Fanthorp Inn, one of Texas’ finest restored stagecoach inns. Originally home to English immigrant Henry Fanthorp and his wife Rachel Kennard in 1834 expanded over the years to become a thriving business. The inn welcomed such notable guests as Sam Houston, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant and Zachary Taylor. Today, the white clapboard home is a beautifully preserved piece of history where you can get a look at what life was like on the Texas frontier in the 19th century. Each room of the house is furnished to make it look like it did back in its heyday, and a replica of an 1850’s-era stagecoach stands in front of the house as if it just dropped guests off for the evening. Visitors can experience grueling cross-country travel via stagecoach at the exhibit’s Stagecoach Days.

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