CTHM celebrating 20 years
By Patricia Miller & Robert Oliver
Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum
During these challenging times, it is important for us all to stay connected to our heritage, family and friends, as we look forward to a brighter future. People across the nation have realized that we are looking for stability and continuity in preserving our past.
The Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum (CTHM) is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and is enthusiastically dedicated to preserving the history of our community as we move ahead into a new decade. As an award-winning museum, CTHM has proven to be a capable steward of the historical structures and artifacts entrusted to its care. Presently, CTHM has been invited to apply to the Smithsonian Affiliate Museum Program - elevating our efforts and mission to preserve the ranching heritage of DeWitt County and the surrounding South Central Texas area and to celebrate the history of the pioneer families that settled here. Part of our value system at the CTHM is to always focus on possible benefits to our members and community at large when planning and taking action relative to events, exhibitions, rental of space and fresh ideas.
The Museum has saved and restored many of the historical structures that were so important during their time and has repurposed them for today’s use. The Knights of Pythias Hall (c. 1903), Proctor-Green House (c. 1892) and the latest addition to the CTHM campus, the English-German School (c. 1880), are all buildings that had fallen into disrepair. Many dedicated individuals and stakeholders invested time, effort and resources to preserve these meaningful structures.
Our exciting new project is to preserve two additional important historic structures. In January 2020, the Robert Oliver Cuero Preservation, LLC generously gifted to CTHM the Trautwein building (c. 1894) and the Cook & Day Motor Company building (c. 1922) - most recently the Lantz Tire building. The buildings are located in the 200 block of North Esplanade Street adjacent to the CTHM complex. These two historic buildings occupy a prime location on the main north/south thoroughfare through Cuero (US Highways 183, 87 and 77A) and when completed, their restoration will play an important role in the revitalization and visual appeal of our downtown historic district.
The board of directors has had initial meetings to discuss how best to develop the new spaces in ways that will advance our Museum’s mission, while contributing to the economic health of our community. Some of the plans discussed include expanded gallery and exhibit space for new permanent collections and temporary exhibitions. The additional 15,000 square feet will allow CTHM to receive and exhibit collections that have been promised to our institution. Other ideas incorporate a contemporary cafe, as well as renovations and improvements to portions of Esplanade and Courthouse Streets. The planned expansion will enhance Cuero’s appeal as a destination for ‘heritage tourism.’
Cleanup work and initial restoration has begun and gratefully is being underwritten at this time. Working in collaboration with the City of Cuero and the Chamber of Commerce, the Museum’s board of directors is confident that after this project is completed, it will entice history buffs and those seeking the charm of “small-town America” to travel to Cuero to visit our museums, eat in our restaurants, and shop at our local shops.
According to the Texas Historical Commission, “heritage tourism in Texas is a $7.3 billion industry, accounting for more than 10.5% of all travel in the state.” We feel that Cuero is in a prime position to court valuable tourist dollars - boosting the local economy, improving property values and generating sales tax income. Cuero boasts four excellent museums and CTHM is proud to be in such good company.
It is our sincere hope that our members and supporters, as well as the entire community, will see this expansion as a positive plan to contribute to educational opportunities, economic development and the social fabric of our community. Please be in touch with questions or ideas as we continue to move forward.