Waco’s hidden gem, the Helen Marie Taylor Museum

WACO, Texas — Did you know you can see artifacts from American history like George Washington’s waistcoat or Dolly Madison’s bodice in Waco?

Or get the inside story about the Indians who lived here or the Cotton Palace or even the Branch Davidians?

You can find all of this and more at the Helen Marie Taylor Museum near downtown Waco!

The late Helen Marie Taylor dedicated her life to preserving history.

In the 1980s she bought the old Barron Springs Elementary School at 701 Jefferson and opened her museum in 1993.

The museum has been open to small groups by invitation for most of its existence – but big plans are in place for renovations and full-time hours.

At a recent open house, hundreds of visitors were able to tour the museum and get a taste of Helen Marie Taylor’s vision for her museum and see the amazing artifacts she has collected throughout her career. long life.

In the “We the People” exhibit, you’ll see treasures like George Washington’s embroidered waistcoat, clothes worn by his wife Martha and Dolly Madison, and household items from Zachary Taylor and James Monroe.

“She looks like she was a legend bearer and a storyteller,” Brandon Taylor said.

Virginia investment banker Brandon Taylor is a trustee of the multimillion-dollar trust fund Taylor established before his death.

“She was careful not to say that she was a historian. But she loved early American history,” Taylor said.

“And you’re here in the room that focuses on that. She loved the United States Constitution. She loved the United States. Democracy, capitalism. And she loved Waco.”

And that love for Waco’s history is showcased in exhibits celebrating the turn of the 20e centuries when cotton was king.

The collection of cotton palace queen dresses is gorgeous.

The darkest days in Waco’s history are also featured in the Branch Davidian exhibit.

And there are plans to expand the exhibits to include more than 20e-century, African-American and Hispanic history.

But a key feature of the museum is its exhibit on the Indian tribes that camped here along the Brazos.

Derek Ross’ ancestor was one of these Indians and he is a member of Witchita and affiliated tribes.

“There are actually four tribes within the tribe, which are Wichita, Waco, Tawakoni and Kichai; and I grew up in Anadarko, Oklahoma. So the tribe, the Waco part of the tribe was removed from Waco on August 1, 1859. So I’m six generations away from Waco,” Ross said.

“And I think it’s important for people to know that people don’t feel bad, but education, you know, is so important.”

The museum even has a treaty signed by Sam Houston with Indian tribes in Texas; a treaty according to Ross was eventually broken.

The long-term future is bright for the Helen Marie Taylor Museum.

With a million dollar renovation underway and an endowment guaranteeing its presence in Waco for the next 100 years, this museum will tell the extraordinary story of Waco, the State of Texas and the nation for years to come. .

In the meantime, stay tuned for the grand reopening.

About Carlos V. Mitchell

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