Heritage, Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 1988 Page: 29
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The Thursday walks were organized by
R. F. "Buddy" Rau, a founder of Magnolia
Home Tours and a sixth generation Texan
whose roots are deep in the Columbus area.
Most everybody in town knows Buddy and
credits his leadership and enthusiasm for
the increasing tourism and camaraderie.
"The early success of the First and Third
Thursday program gives promise of the
continued success of tourism in Columbus.
The program is a building block focusing
on the fine old houses and rich heritage of
this town we call home," said Rau.
Columbus is 125 miles east of San
Antonio on Interstate 10. Townsfolk point
out that the Sun Belt city is ideally located
at the intersection of I-10 and State Highway
71 within easy access of Houston,
Austin and San Antonio.
Wherever you come from, you'll want
to start your tour at the Opera House in the
center of town. Reservations are suggested
for groups of 30 or more, so that a guide can
be provided. Generally, you'll meander on
your own along the banner-lined streets
and will find someone waiting to welcome
you at the stops. Check in at the Chamber
of Commerce at 425 Spring Street in the
comer of the Opera House for your map
and instructions. Then take the guided
tour of the building remodeled so lovingly
that even the backstage dressing rooms are
not to be missed. The elaborate, scenic
curtain is a reproduction of the original
that went up on opening night with 1,000
formally dressed guests filling the first floor
and balcony. Phase III of the renovation
will include balcony box seating.
Those familiar with the great works of
architect Nicholas J. Clayton of Galveston
will recognize his touch in The Stafford
Opera House, built in 1886. The wealthy
Columbus businessman, R. E. Stafford,
commissioned Clayton to design the building.
It is said Stafford had the Opera House
built next door to his own home, and
designed so he could lie in his upstairs
bedroom with a full view of the Opera
House stage. As air-conditioning was nonexistent
in those days, windows were open
and there was no problem with vision or
Magnolia Homes Tour Inc., bought the
Opera House in 1972 and began the long
restoration effort, which included considerable
fund raising. In recent years
enormous progress has taken place, with
modem technical and backstage improvements
and the once-grand upstairs theater
approaching its former glory. Restoration
of the Opera House is expected to be complete
Next, you'll probably cross the street to
the United Daughters of the Confederacy
Museum on the southwest comer of the
Courthouse Square. A gem inside and out,
the museum is in a water tower built in
and Gambling Hall, said to be the finest
saloon in Texas in the 1880s. You may
want to drop into the Columbus State
Bank, a handsome contemporary building
with one of the country's best collections of
early Texas maps and currency. Continuing
past Walnut Street (Highway 90),
Senftenberg-Brandon House, 616 Walnut Street. Originally a four-room Greek Revival with four fireplaces
and full basement constructed of hand-made brick. Built in the 1860s by the Tate family. In the 1880s, the
Senftenberg family added a second floor, ornate stairway and verandas. Magnolia Homes Tour purchased
the home from the Brandon heirs in 1968. It has been restored as a museum of small town life in the
1883 of 400,000 handmade bricks. Memorabilia
of early Texas life fills the two floors,
including accounts of the days Sam
Houston's army pitched camp on the east
bank of the Colorado near the present site
of Columbus and subsequently, burned the
town in the wake of General Santa Anna's
reinforced troops. The majestic Colorado
County Courthouse centers a square covered
in magnolia trees and steeped in Texas
history. The first term of court for the
Republic of Texas was held under a giant
oak tree nearby. A Texas Historical Medallion
is attached to what is left of the tree.
Columbus has 57 medallions.
Cross again and you can visit Untermeyers
Antiques, once the Red Elk Saloon
you'll come to the Live Oak Art Club
center in the 1891 Brunson Building. Each
month the Club spotlights the work of a
particular artist of note. May of 1988 will
feature Manuel Acosta, a nationally
known water colorist, in a one-man show.
There are 15 stops listed on the map, all
concentrated in a five-block area. If you go
on the weekend rather than Thursday,
check in at Rau's Atascosita Antiques, as
the Chamber will be closed. Although
everything on the tour won't be open, Rau
can arrange to open several of the buildings
for groups. Call ahead. The shop, incidentally,
specializes in antiques from Great
Britain and the coast of Maine, and has an
extensive collection of Staffordshire figu29
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 1988, periodical, Spring 1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45435/m1/29/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.