Textile Destinations – Washington, Texas
Over the weekend my husband and I took advantage of the mild winter weather to do a little sight-seeing. We went to a nearby state park, Washington-on-the-Brazos. Not only was the Texas Declaration of Independence signed here in 1836, but the home of Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas, is also situated here. For these two reasons, the park is on the List of Sites Sacred to True Texans, and my husband feels obligated to check on it once in a while, to be sure he approves of the way it is run.
Independence Hall didn’t look any different than it did during our last visits in 1984 and 1987.
Independence Hall in 1984
For that matter, it didn’t look any different than it did in 1836. That’s the whole point.
But the rest of the park had changed quite a bit. The last time we were there, the Star of the Republic Museum had a nice standard exhibit about Texas history. Barrington, the home of Anson Jones, was located close to the museum. You could walk around it and look in the windows but that was all.
Now Barrington has been moved down near the Brazos River, and is a wonderful living history farm, with gardens and working oxen. Knowledgeable historical interpreters give spinning demonstrations, and can tell you about the textiles in the main house and slave quarters.
Barrington, the 1850s home of Anson Jones
a Durham and a longhorn
Old textiles always give me new ideas. My big inspiration on this trip came from this quilt, which is in the main house.
I loved the simple triangle design, but the idea that was new for me was that the color of the quilt stitches was matched to the fabric. Dark triangles were quilted with black thread, pink triangles with red thread. I think that simple practice greatly enhanced the design.
detail showing dark quilting threads
After leaving Barrington Farm, we went on to the Star of the Republic Museum, which is in the middle of the park. It has been expanded since we were here last, with a whole new floor of exhibits. The upper floor highlights social history – education, medicine, home decor, and so on – and there are lots of beautiful quilts and coverlets, textile tools, and even some clothing. I didn’t take too many pictures, because I had seen a CD for sale, “Quilts and Coverlets.” I had assumed that was of the textiles in the collection, and planned to buy one on my way out.
I did take a few pictures, and later when I got home and looked at them, I realized how much more detail you can see in a photo.
beaded basket in exhibit, Star of the Republic Museum
The photo makes much more detail visible.
When we were leaving, I asked for the CD. It turned out that it doesn’t show the Star of the Republic collection. It was a copy of an out-of-print catalogue, but it showed some great pieces. I would have much preferred to buy images of the textiles I had seen in real life, but that opportunity only comes along rarely, so I went ahead and bought what was available.
On the Textile Ranger Scale, this destination gets a “Suitable for Varied Interests” rating. There are a good number of interesting textiles, but of course they are not the main focus of the site. So for those not of the Textile Persuasion (and I think we all seem to be involved with such people), there are plenty of things to see – tools, weapons, historic documents, animals. The park itself is beautiful, with hills, meadows, and trails along the Brazos River. It’s a great place to manage a little textile viewing while spending a pleasant afternoon.