More than two years after the flood that totaled our old building, The Douglas Fairbanks Museum will re-open in 2010!
Our long search for a suitable site to house and display our collections led us to look at relocating outside our original home of Austin, Texas, where we have been for more than a decade. We considered sites as far away as Denver, Los Angeles, New York and Boston before discovering the perfect spot just a few miles south of Austin.
A friend of the museum recently suggested that we explore an available property in the historic town of Gonzales, Texas — once we visited there and had a look around, we absolutely fell in love with the place and the people. The museum board, staff, and supporters all agreed that this is the ideal location for our new home.
Not only will this allow us to remain in the Central Texas area, the museum will now be centrally located between two major cities, drawing visitors from both Austin and San Antonio. Just 50 miles from San Antone and 60 miles from Austin, Gonzales is a hot tourist destination spot along the Texas Independence Trail.
Historic Gonzales County Courthouse & Town Square
Gonzales holds a very special place in the hearts of Texans and in the annals of the Lone Star State’s history. Known as “The Birthplace of Texas Freedom,” Gonzales was the first Anglo-American settlement west of the Colorado River, established by a land grant in 1825 when Texas was still a part of Mexico.
The first shot of the Texas Revolution was fired in Gonzales on October 2, 1835, when residents of the town refused to return a cannon originally given to them by Mexico for self-defense. General Santa Anna sent Mexican troops into Gonzales demanding the cannon be returned. But the Mexicans soon found themselves confronted by a band of determined Gonzaleans who told them if they wanted the cannon back, they could “Come And Take It.”
The ensuing battle of Gonzales was the first of many legendary battles in the struggle for Texas Independence.
In late February 1836, 32 men from Gonzales answered the urgent call for help defending the besieged Alamo and went to their deaths as true Texas heroes. Among them were Almaron Dickenson, whose wife Susanna and their infant child were the only Anglo survivors of the bloody Alamo battle.
Appropriately enough, this story is told in the very first film Douglas Fairbanks ever appeared in, 1915’s “Martyrs of the Alamo” (aka “The Birth of Texas“) directed by D.W. Griffith.
We could not find any spot in Texas more appropriate for the museum’s new home than Gonzales. The town’s amazing history is an ideal match for Douglas Fairbanks, a man whose films always echoed the same ideals Gonzaleans fought and died for: freedom, justice and liberty!
The museum will be moving to our new building in Gonzales on January 4, 2010. Located in a historic 1890s home just a block off the picturesque town square (on the National Register of Historic Places) and within walking distance of all other local museums and cultural attractions, we plan to make a sizeable contribution to the quality of life and tourism in Gonzales over the years ahead.
It will take some time to complete the move and set up exhibits and office space within the building, so the museum will not be open to the public until March 1st, 2010 — just in time to take part in the Annual Texas Independence Day celebrations.
We are already planning for an official Grand Opening party around May 23rd, Douglas Fairbanks’ birthday.
Keep an eye on our news blog for updates on our progress as the museum’s new home is being prepared. We’ll have lots of photos to share depicting the home restoration and building of exhibit spaces, as well as announcements of future programs, exhibits and special events coming up in 2010. It’s going to be a great year, and we hope you will join us!
Donations are especially important to help us with the costs of relocating to a new town and restoring this historic home. So if you haven’t already, please visit our “DONATE” page and make a financial contribution in any amount you can afford. Every little bit helps right now! Thank you for your continuing support.
The Douglas Fairbanks Museum: “Come And See It” in Gonzales next year!
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