Washington on the Brazos State Historical Site

Article by Deborah Scanpaico
Photography by George Hosek

At the entrance of Washington county, on U.S. 290 West, there is a sign which reads “Washington County: Birthplace of Texas”. Travel north of Brenham, to the town of Washington, and you will discover Texas’ beginnings. The Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site is devoted to preserving the historic origination of the state.

 Administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife, this 50 acre site provides history buffs a chance to sit in the actual spot where the Texas Declaration of Independence was ratified and signed.

While the actual building no longer exists, the park has built a replica known as “Independence Hall”. The visitor center houses a gift shop and a small historical display. The park’s staff provides informational tours, or a self-guided audio tour is also available.

Both require a small fee. Wide, gravel strewn paths and trails afford pedestrians a scenic venue in which to meander along the Old Washington Town Site Trail, down to the Brazos River, and around patches of wildflowers.

The park also offers a glimpse of early farm life thanks to the Barrington Living History Farm, home of Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas.


The farm is accessible by walking or driving a short distance from the park’s visitor center. People of all ages will enjoy interacting with staff, dressed in period costume, demonstrating daily farming chores.

Situated between the visitor’s center and the farm, is the perfect place to cool off. The Star of the Republic Museum, administered by Blinn College of Brenham, was built in the shape of a five-pointed star.

This self-guided museum offers displays of Texas’ history up to its annexation to the United States, mainly focusing on the years of 1836-1846 when Texas was a nation.

The Showers-Brown Discovery Center allows children and grown-ups alike a chance to “play” with history. Cattle branding, quilting, dressing up, and building log cabins are some of the activities offered. Access is available on the second floor to the outside deck surrounding the museum.

A 20-minute film gives a condensed description of Texas’ independence from Mexico to its conception as a state. It provides a cool, yet educational, respite.

The staff will gladly show the movie upon request. The museum also houses a research library, open to the public during regular weekday hours. Documents, such as historical memoirs, are available for reading.

The park facilities and grounds are open daily, year-round, from 8 a.m. until sundown. There is no entrance fee. The pecan grove near the river offers 26 free picnic sites and two covered rental pavilions. The Visitor Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It contains new interactive exhibits, and the park headquarters.

Washington on the Brazos
Box 305
Washington TX 77880-0305





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