Heritage, Volume 6, Number 3, Fall 1988 Page: 8
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Birthplace of Texas
By Dr. Alan Commander
A weather-worn shaft of gray Texas
granite marks the spot. This modest
monument states simply, "Here A
Nation Was Born."
Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park
houses this monument and, along with the
Alamo and the San Jacinto Battleground,
makes up the most significant historical
sites in Texas. Of these sites, San Jacinto is
the most popular, with over a million visitors
last year. The Alamo ranks second for
the same period, while Washington-onthe-Brazos
trailed with approximately
Hal Moorman, President of the Washington-on-the-Brazos
"This is the birthplace of Texas-yet this
park is by far the lesser known of the three
sites. We want to change that."
Seeking a way to effectuate change,
members of the executive committee of the
association met last year with Dr. Frank
Vandiver, President of Texas A&M University.
"That discussion led us to Gordon
Echols, Executive Director of the Texas
Historical Foundation, and the Center for
Historic Resources at A&M," Moorman
continued. "Not only is the Center a halfhour
drive from Washington-on-the-Brazos,
but there is an enormous diversity of
talent there: archaeologists, landscape
architects, historians, and tourism specialists,"
observed the association president.
Following discussions with Echols and
his staff, the association entered into a
formal contract with the Center for Historic
Resources to construct a developmental
strategy for Washington-on-theBrazos.
After months of study, the Center
has produced a 100-page report that will
provide the programmatic outline for the
Park's future development.
The first step was to take the report to
Austin and discuss it in depth with Dr. Bill
Dolman, Director of the Parks Division of
the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission,
and his staff. Moorman then spoke with the
Highway Department District Engineer,
Mr. Arthur Geike. Subsequently, the
Texas Historical Foundation invited the
association to make a presentation to the
board at their July meeting in Round Top.
The Washington-on-the-Brazos Park Association has been the moving force behind the Annual Texas
Independence Day celebration.
"We're delighted to report that all three
have endorsed the program in concept.
What remains now is for us to move from
the planning to the implementation
stage," Moorman concluded.
The study addresses four critical areas
for development: archaeological assessment,
entryways, tourism and marketing,
and museum assessment.
More specifically, the study suggests
that, although archaeological excavations
have been conducted irregularly since
1964, there are no detailed reports of the
findings. Much of the data remains in the
form of field notes. Less than 10% of the
original town site has been investigated,
and all these activities occurred over 20
"New technologies and analysis methods
have been developed since then, and
will be utilized in our efforts to define the
perimeters of the old village site," said
Moorman. "Our first need, though, is to
develop a comprehensive research design
with the help of our friends in the Parks &
Wildlife Department. We hope to make
this site a living laboratory, a place where
archaeological students can work under
supervision and study to their hearts' content,"
The report also calls for an exploration
of options to improve the entryways to the
park. The association is planning a design
competition to address this area of critical
need. Students at the five major schools of
architecture in Texas (UT-Austin, A&M,
the University of Houston, Texas Tech,
and Rice) will be invited to submit drawings,
a scale model, and budget estimates
for the new entryways to the park.
The association will give a cash prize of
$2,500 to the winning student team. All
submissions will be judged by a juried panel
and the award will be made at a special
ceremony in the park on Texas Independence
Day next year.
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 6, Number 3, Fall 1988, periodical, 1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45436/m1/8/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.