In this month’s article I would like to cover some of the recent developments regarding Denton County’s historic preservation efforts.
During the summer budget sessions the offices of the Denton County Historical Commission and the Denton County Museums were reorganized by the Commissioners Court to join forces to become the Denton County Office of History and Culture.
Five full-time and three part-time staff members, with numerous volunteers, oversee the operation of the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum and The Historical Park of Denton County and assist the Denton County Historical Commission with various programs.
The Historical Park of Denton County, located at the corner of Mulberry and Carroll Boulevard in Denton, is experiencing growth with the opening of the Welcome Center on November 30. Housed in the former servant’s quarters of the Spencer House from Lewisville, the Welcome Center will provide visitors with tourism information as well as displaying an exhibit on the Spencer Family.
The Bayless-Selby House has introduced rotating exhibits on Victorian home life. A recent exhibit earlier this fall, Death and Dying in the Victorian Age, featured an exhibit on loan from the National Funeral Museum in Houston and brought an increase in visitors. Currently the Bayless-Selby House is celebrating a “Dickens of a Christmas” honoring the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens.
The park serves not only as a tourist attraction but a learning resource for the school districts within the county. The staff is continually hosting field trips and tailoring educational programs to compliment local history and state curriculum guidelines and standards.
The park also houses the Denton County African American Museum which provides a great insight into the lives of many residents across the county and also a detailed account of the Quakertown community in downtown Denton. Museum docents tell stories of struggle and triumph for our African American community here in the county.
Although there has been great progress with the park over the years, there is still much to be done. The Commissioners Court is scheduled to accept artifacts from the Foy Taylor Farm Site in Corinth. The farm has been awarded the Texas Historic Farm designation from the state of Texas. The Taylor family has agreed to generously donate hundreds of artifacts including a log cabin from the mid 1800s, a barn, other farm outbuildings, and farm implements. These logs structures will help tell the story of farm life in the early days of Denton County and we are pleased to accept them into our collection.
Exhibits are also changing at the Courthouse Museum. The museum recently closed the exhibit, “Ornamental Honor” featuring artwork by Bryson Gappa of Lewisville, honoring fallen soldiers in the Iraq War.
“Neon Cowboys and Pink Ladies: A photographic exhibition of Southwestern neon signs from the 1970s” by Mike Cochran is currently on display in the main gallery of museum. The highlight of the exhibit is a “Merry Xmas” sign that once sat on all four sides of the dome of the courthouse. New permanent and rotating exhibits are planned for all four floors of the building.
If you have questions about our Denton County historic preservation efforts or have something you would like to share with the county, please contact me at 940-349-2801 or [email protected]