The Record Newspapers - Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Heritage Museum collecting artifacts for new museum


Last updated 9/10/2013 at Noon

The Board of Directors for the Heritage House Museum is asking the community for help in acquiring artifacts for the new Elizabeth and Howard Williams History Museum.

The building for the new museum has already been moved to the current property located 905 West Division Street. The latest building to be located on the property is a 1936 1,900 square foot house. The house was formerly located next to the Orange Fire Department. When the fire department chose to expand following being destroyed by Hurricane Ike, the house was moved to the current location and renovated.

They are hoping to have the latest addition open by spring. The museum will be named after Dr. Howard and Elizabeth Williams because of their hard work and dedication to preserving the history of Orange. There are plans for a dedication ceremony once the museum is ready to be opened.

The items the board is requesting needs to be historical in nature and related to Orange County history. These items can include period clothing, telephones or anything else used in Orange.

Some of the items already collected include instruments, posters and uniforms from the Bengal Guards.

The bugle and drum corps was said to be second to none during their era.

The group was started and completely funded by Mr. HJL Stark and his wife, Nita.

On Oct. 5, 1936, the Guards made their first public appearance at the Orange versus Jasper football game.

Many notable performances followed over the years such as the Rainbow Bridge dedication and for first lady Eleanor Roosevelt who had arrived in Beaumont.

The Guards were chosen to be her Honor Guard.

As the Nation became involved in WWII, they were not traveling much.

By late 1944, the Starks turned over complete control of the Guards to Orange High School and they were no longer the sponsor.

In 1958, the Bengal Guards program was discontinued.

The directors also hope to collect war era artifacts, items from former restaurants, and things from area neighborhoods such as Navy Park or Riverside.

The plan is to collect enough artifacts, so the items can be rotated in and out.

Due to the destruction left behind from Hurricane Ike in 2008, the former building, The Woodmen of the World, was condemned. It was later torn down. Not only did they lose a building, but also many artifacts.

“We really need these items,” said Theresa Cronin, on the board of directors for the Heritage House museum. “We want it to be spectacular.”

The Heritage House of Orange depicts a typical upper middle class house from the turn of the 20th century through the 1940s. The house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.

The house was occupied by the Sims family from the time of its construction in 1902 until June 1977, when it was sold to the City of Orange and donated to the Heritage House of Orange County Association, Inc. The Association moved the house from its former location at Eighth and Front Streets to its present location on W. Division and oversaw subsequent restoration.

The Heritage House Museum offers exhibits and educational programs such as lectures, workshops, and craft demonstrations. It also hosts annual special events, including the Christmas Open House, the Past Times Celebration, and Trace of Old Lace.

Anyone who would like to make a donation of historical items, please call the office Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

A house was moved to the current location for the purpose of opening the Elizabeth and Howard Williams History Museum. The Board of Directors for the Heritage House museum is asking the community for help in acquiring artifacts for the new museum.


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