Day Trips: San Felipe de Austin Historic Site
Original Texas capital returns through new museum
San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site resurrects the town that was once the center of colonial Texas civilization with a new state-of-the-art museum.
In 1824, at a ferry crossing on the Brazos River, Stephen F. Austin established his headquarters for his colony. The settlement became the social, economic, and political capital for the original 300 families spread out across the Texas prairie. Austin's residence in the town was the only home he ever owned in Texas.
Nearly every significant figure in prerevolutionary Texas went through San Felipe. William Travis practiced law here before going to the Alamo. Gail Borden ran the town's newspaper before inventing condensed milk. Angelina Eberly ran one of the town's taverns before moving to Austin where she earned a statue on Congress Avenue. The town ended in 1836 when the retreating Texan army burned the buildings in the face of an advancing Mexican army. The town never recovered.
Since the 1940s a small state park with a statue of Austin and a couple of log cabins has marked the town site. In 2017, the Texas Historical Commission opened the new museum that explains the town's significance.
The museum is full of computer-generated interactive displays and a few artifacts that make exploring the past fun. Best of all, a bronze map gives visitors a bird's-eye view of the settlement.
San Felipe de Austin is on FM 1458 a couple of miles north of I-10 near Sealy. Admission is $10 per person or $22 per family.
To get a free ticket to this site and 72 other museums around the state on Saturday, Sept. 22, go to www.smithsonian.com/museumday.
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