Heritage, Volume 13, Number 3, Summer 1995 Page: 24
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Foundation Grant Helps Del Rio Museum Begin Restoration
By Lee Lincoln
As the city of Del Rio, just across the
border from Mexico, grows and moves into
an age of technology, the preservation of its
past remains a priority. The story of the
growth of this small town is important and
one that the community's Whitehead Museum
has helped preserve.
Del Rio was founded in 1868. Originally
called San Felipe Del Rio, it was founded
because of its proximity to nearby San
Felipe Creek. James H. Taylor, along with
a few friends, established Del Rio as a
farming community with the purchase of
1,476 acres of land.
The city's Whitehead Memorial Museum
was founded in 1962 by Delia
Whitehead. The Whitehead Museum includes
many aspects of the history of southwest
Texas. Diverse exhibits ranging from
the Cadena Nativity scene, a local folk art
display, to the Qualia and Boner winery
equipment are all included in the tour of
the Whitehead Museum.
The Museum had its start when the
historic Perry Store was donated as the first
building of the museum complex, which
now consists of 11 exhibit structures. The
The Whitehead Memorial Museum in Del Rio is using the preservation grant money it received from the Texas
Historical Foundation to restore the historic Perry Building, built in 1871. The grant was the first that the
museum received and helped to generate interest and donations from other private groups and individuals.
Perry Building, built in 1871, was the general
store in Del Rio operated by John Perry. As
the first two-story building to be erected in
the city, it also served as the courthouse, a
church, a masonic lodge, and a post office.
For years, it was the largest store between
San Antonio and El Paso.
But like many other older structures, the
old store fell into disrepair and was in serious
need of restoration when the Whitehead
Museum approached the Texas Historical
Foundation for a preservation grant. The
THF Board of Directors, seeing the need for
the preservation of this historic building as a
centerpiece of the Whitehead Memorial
Museum, awarded a Jeanne R. Blocker Memorial
Fund grant last year, and with that,
restoration of the second story of the old
structure was set to begin.
Since the physical renovation of the Perry
Building started, all of the rooms within the
building have been repainted, along with
the doors and trim. Most of the floor has
been redone to authenticate the original
floor that was in the building. On the outside,
along a wall, a new staircase has been
constructed. All of the window shutters,
along with 96 window panes, have also been
replaced. The light fixtures that help com
plete the restoration were from Del Rio's
historic Hawthorn House.
The restored building now houses numerous
examples of period furniture, including
baby cradles, several antique pieces,
and a small baby scale, which are being
carefully placed in the second-story rooms
of the Perry Building. Hand-made lace
doilies, old hats found in the building, and
other articles of clothes help visitors learn
about life in the Trans Pecos during the late
Without the monies that were provided
by the Texas Historical Foundation,
it could have taken years before the second
floor of the Perry Building would have
been open to the public. The THF grant
was the first that the Whitehead Museum
received, and it served as a catalyst for
other grants and donations from private
groups and individuals. With the help of
these many donors, including the Texas
Historical Foundation, the rich history of
Del Rio will be preserved for future generations
Lincoln is the director of the Whitehead Memorial
Museum in Del Rio.
24 HERITAGE * SUMMER 1995
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 13, Number 3, Summer 1995, periodical, Summer 1995; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45409/m1/24/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.