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Archive for texas

Austin’s Ivory Tower

By Linda Tancs

One of the oldest art museums in Texas, the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin is a crème-colored limestone castle set in a field amidst a palette of native flowering plants. The idyllic setting is but a prelude to the interior’s magnificent collection of the works of sculptress Elisabet Ney, a German immigrant who produced sculptures of legendary Texans like Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston. Ney also retrieved and assembled portraits of European notables, including King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Otto von Bismarck, Arthur Schopenhauer, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Jacob Grimm. The plaster replicas of her works abide at the castle while their marble companions are located in sites all over Texas and at the Smithsonian and the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. The museum’s collection of art and personal effects also boasts over 50 of the 100 statues, busts and medallions executed by Ney. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum offers a range of educational programs, exhibits, special events, workshops and lectures throughout the year.

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An Epic Tall Ship

By Linda Tancs

A living testament to the “Age of Sail,” Elissa is a three-masted, iron-hulled sailing ship built in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland, by Alexander Hall & Company. According to a descendant of her builder, the tall ship’s name was taken from the epic Roman poem The Aeneid, which follows the story of Dido (originally a Phoenician princess named Elissa), who fled from Tyre to Africa and founded Carthage. Like her poetic counterpart, the barque is a survivor, securing a second life (following decades as a freighter) as a fully-functional vessel that continues to sail annually during sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. She’s located at Texas Seaport Museum, Pier 21, in Galveston, Texas.

Steel and Stone in Galveston

By Linda Tancs

Bishop’s Palace (also known as Gresham House) is a National Historic Landmark in the East End Historic District of Galveston, Texas. Acknowledged by architectural historians as one of the most significant Victorian residences in the country, its hint of French Revival combined with depressed Tudor arches, articulated carvings and sculptural chimneys renders it one of the “Broadway beauties” (owing to its location on Broadway). Constructed in 1892 of steel and stone for railroad magnate Walter Gresham, it survived the Great Storm of 1900 virtually unscathed. The “basement to attic” tour offers visitors access to the rarely seen third floor, including Mrs. Gresham’s studio and its panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.

A Step Into the Past in Texas

By Linda Tancs

Padre Island National Seashore in Texas is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world, a time capsule of sorts with dunes and other natural formations that look the same today as they would have to the Native Americans and European settlers who inhabited the area hundreds of years ago. Owned at different times by Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas and later the United States, it comprises mostly prairie/grasslands with ephemeral marshes and ponds bordered on the east by the Gulf of Mexico and on the west by the Laguna Madre, one of only six lagoons in the world that is hypersaline (saltier than the ocean). The park protects 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies and wind tidal flats teeming with life, including the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and 380 bird species.

 

Juneteenth

By Linda Tancs

The liberation of black American slaves in Texas occurred on June 19, 1865, and an annual celebration of the end of slavery is held on the day. Known as Juneteenth, the first celebration in Texas came in 1867, and it became a state holiday in 1980. Like any Texas occasion, food is plentiful. A typical celebration includes barbecue, smothered chicken, collard greens and red desserts and beverages (such as red velvet cake and strawberry soda).

A Fort’s Family Heritage

By Linda Tancs

John Butterfield chose Fort Chadbourne as a major stop for his Overland Mail Company, a stagecoach mail service connecting the east and west coasts of the United States. The fort saw other action as part of the Old West, too, like the Fence Cutting Wars (disputes between farmers and cattlemen staking their claims in the area) and mustering on its grounds at the outbreak of the Civil War. Unlike other military posts, however, this fort has always been privately owned, becoming a ranching haven for eight generations of the Odom’s, Wylie’s and Richards’ families. Located in the vicinity of Bronte, Texas, its military, ranching, and Indian historical roots have been lovingly restored. The old frontier fort now has six restored buildings, stabilized ruins, and a new visitor center featuring over 300 antique guns, thousands of military and Native American artifacts, cannons and a research library.

Best Known Street in Texas

By Linda Tancs

The heart of Austin, Texas, 6th Street is an entertainment mecca. On the one hand, you’ll find historic buildings hosting bars, restaurants and an eclectic set of entertainment venues boasting everything from country to punk. On the other hand, quieter pursuits await thanks to art galleries and antique shops. No wonder the variety attracts showcase events like the Austin Mardi Gras celebration, SXSW, The Republic of Texas Bikers Rally, the Pecan Street Festival (the street’s former name) and the infamous Halloween celebration. Get ready to party.

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