BRYAN, TEXAS HISTORY TOUR

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Bryan, Texas got its start as a railroad town more than 150 years ago when William Joel Bryan, nephew of Stephen F. Austin, sold a single square mile of land to representatives of the Houston & Texas Central Railroad. That $3,200 plot of land would soon become a full-fledged city, named in William Joel Bryan’s honor. The town quickly became the agricultural and commercial hub of the Brazos Valley, and the City of Bryan was officially incorporated in November of 1871.

Celebrate the City of Bryan’s 150th anniversary this year with the official Bryan, Texas History Tour! This self-guided tour will lead you on a journey through time as you take a look into the legends of our past at more than 20 historical sites & landmarks throughout the city. Check in to all the stops by December 31, 2021 to receive a Bryan-themed prize pack including a t-shirt, magnet, and stickers.

Click here to see what’s included!

Bryan, Texas History Tour

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How this Pass Works

Step 1 - Get Your Pass

This mobile exclusive passport is a collection of curated history stops in Bryan, Texas

Step 2 - Receive Text

Your passport will be instantly delivered to your phone via text and email and is ready to use immediately! There is no app to download. Your pass can be saved to your phone’s home screen for easy one-tap access.

Step 3 - Redeem

When visiting a participating history stop, simply check-in to the location to count towards the prize!

Bryan is a vibrant, diverse community developed by converging cultures and incredible people from so many different backgrounds. As a community built on train tracks and cotton, we know much of Bryan's early success came as a result of the institution of slavery, and the unjust and inequitable treatment of African Americans and the many immigrant groups who settled in the Brazos Valley. Today, we honor those groups at sites like the Brazos Valley African American Museum, and with events such as our annual Juneteenth celebrations and Fiestas Patrias every September.
The best way to experience all that Bryan has to offer is to immerse yourself in our shared history, and explore all the threads that have woven together to form the beautiful fabric of our community. As you complete this tour, we encourage you to dive even deeper into our storied past at The Carnegie History Center and discover more legendary stories at 150.bryantx.gov.

Included Venues

See locations on an interactive map.

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Boonville Heritage Park
The Boonville Heritage Park is the last preserved remnant of the town of Boonville, the original county seat of Brazos County. In 1821, Stephen F. Austin brought 300 families to Texas under an agreement with the Mexican government. Members of the Millican family were among the first settlers in this area, near the confluence of the Brazos and Navasota Rivers. The local population rapidly increased over the next 20 years and the Congress of the Republic of Texas created Navasota County in 1841, which then became Brazos County in 1842, the 35th county in Texas. Brazos County is part of Austin’s Colony and the Republic of Texas Congress appointed a committee to select a tract of 150 acres as the county seat to locate a town near the center of the county.That committee included J.H. Jones, Eli Seale, William T. Millican, Joseph Ferguson and Mordecai Boon, Sr. The town of Boonville was named the county seat and enjoyed growth and prosperity from 1842 to 1866. The end of the Civil War meant the resumption of railroad building and the Houston & Texas Central Railway tracks were laid from Millican, reaching Bryan in 1867. A county election and referendum on the seat of county government was held in the fall of 1866. Bryan won the vote and the citizens of Boonville began moving west towards Bryan nearer the railroad. Occupying 11.29 acres, Boonville Heritage Park is home to the 1856 Turner-Peters log house, which is furnished with 19th-century items typical of Texas frontier homes. The park is also the site of the original Boonville cemetery where Harvey Mitchell, “The Father of Brazos County,” his family, and many other early pioneers are interred. Several citizens of the Republic of Texas are buried here. Their grave markers are emblazoned accordingly.
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Charles Hotel
The building was built in 1911 by J. Allen Myers, originally housing Myers Hardware, a 3-story building and general supply store with an electric elevator to move supplies and wagons between floors. Constructed entirely out of poured in place concrete and steel, at a cost of $13,440, it was billed at the time as Bryan’s first “fire-proof” building. In 1939, Charles Myers converted the building into the 40-room Charles Hotel. Major renovations at the time included adding windows to each hotel room and the Art-Deco facade. It remained a hotel and boarding house until the 1980’s when it fell into disrepair. In 2004 the building was renovated into loft apartments. Today, the Charles Hotel has loft apartments on the upper floors and a bookshop and restaurant on the ground floor.
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Howell Grocery Building
J.W. Howell constructed this building in 1906 as the Howell Wholesale Grocers building. The first floor housed the grocery business and the second and third floors contained professional offices and the Brazos Cotton Exchange. The upper floors were closed to the public in the early 1960s, preserving them intact in their original state. In the early 1980s the building sat vacant until 2006 when a local developer purchased the building and restored the second and third floor office suites, adding an elevator and air conditioning. Today, Papa Perez Mexican Cuisine occupies the ground floor and the original Brazos Cotton Exchange is now an event venue.
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LaSalle Hotel
In 1927 R.W. Howell decided to purchase the property and turn it into the largest hotel in the city. Austin architect George Louis Walling designed the new building with classical details and distinctly vertical emphasis. When the LaSalle Hotel opened its doors in 1929, Bryan was a bustling railroad stop between Houston and Dallas, and train travelers frequently stayed at the LaSalle. At its opening in 1929, the seven-story LaSalle Hotel was the tallest building in Bryan with one hundred guest rooms, a ballroom and meeting space. The first floor of the building housed a coffee shop, ballroom, gallery, beauty parlor, dining room and two small businesses that faced Main Street. J.C. Jacques bought the property in 1959 and converted it to a nursing home. The home was open until 1975 and then became a resident hotel with small apartments until it closed in 1980. In the late 1990s a private developer, with city backing, began renovations: the hotel reopened in 2000 and the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Elvis Presley performed at the Saddle Club rodeo arena in Bryan on Aug. 23, 1955 and is believed to have stayed and dined at the LaSalle Hotel. Today the LaSalle Hotel operates as a boutique hotel with a bar and restaurant on the ground floor and a speakeasy bar in the basement.
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Carnegie History Center
Scottish immigrant Andrew Carnegie firmly believed in self-education for everyone and that libraries helped those who helped themselves. He would provide funds for the construction of libraries if a city would provide a suitable site and agree to provide money equal to at least one tenth of the construction grant annually in order to maintain the library and purchase books. Bryan, Texas was among the early cities that took advantage of his offer. In 1902, Bryan was fortunate enough to have among its citizens several intrepid ladies who found their city to be, to say the least, uncivilized. The streets were unpaved, there were more than a dozen saloons, everybody carried a gun, and hangings on the courthouse lawn were frequent. These ladies founded the "Mutual Improvement Club," and set out to improve their hometown. In 1902 they enlisted the help of friends and wrote to Andrew Carnegie to ask for funding for a library in Bryan. The Carnegie Library opened in December of 1903 to the public and operated as such for many decades. Today, The Carnegie History Center houses many local history collections that cover not only the local area, but also adjoining counties.The second floor is dedicated to genealogical research, with materials emphasizing ethnic and areas from which many immigrants came to this area.
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The Queen Theatre
A movie theatre has been at this location since 1913 and named “The Queen” since 1914. The theatre was originally located in the three-story Exchange Hotel built here in 1885 (originally opened as the Stoddard Hotel in 1885, then was sold and changed to the Exchange Hotel in 1889).The Schulman Family purchased the theatre business in 1926 and the building in 1938. It was replaced by a modern structure with steel framework, air conditioning and indirect lighting designed by Pettigrew and Worley of Dallas. The tall, white facade was topped with a revolving, neon-lit crown. It reopened on November 21, 1939 and continued for over 30 years as a single screen movie theater. Vacant and in disrepair, the building was purchased by the Downtown Bryan Association in 2010 and restoration began. A community wide effort took place over 8 years and the Queen was finally restored and reopened May 4, 2018.

Management of the theatre recently returned to the hands of the original family. Today this legendary building has been reborn as a dine-in theatre filled with modern amenities. The Queen now features luxury seats and a full dining menu, theater-goers will be able to enjoy first-run movies in the heart of Historic Downtown Bryan.

Learn more about our Bryan Legends at destinationbryan.com/legends
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Masonic Lodge
Brazos Union Lodge No. 129 started as the Boonville Lodge No. 55 in January 1849 after receiving its charter from the Grand Lodge of Texas. After changing its name to Gillespie Lodge No. 55 and moving to Wheelock and then back to Boonville, the Brazos Union Lodge No. 29 then received its regular authorized charter dated the 21st day of January, 1854 and the first Worshipful Master of the Lodge was Brother Harvey Mitchell, the “Father of Brazos County.” Harvey Mitchell was instrumental in the development of Brazos County as he helped build three courthouses, churches and schools. He wrote deeds, abstracts and settled disputes as there was no lawyer for a number of years in the area. Mitchell’s most notable achievement was securing the location in Brazos County for A&M College of Texas (now Texas A&M University). The Lodge’s current location’s cornerstone was laid on June 15, 1910 and the Lodge officially completed construction later that same year, for a total expense of $13,608.70. The Brazos Union Masonic Lodge No. 129 has been at this current location in Downtown Bryan ever since, operating for more than 110 years. A Mason is a member of the oldest and largest goodwill fraternity in the world, known as Masonry or Freemasonry. Masonry teaches that each man has a duty to make life better, not just for himself, but for everyone. Whether that means helping to clean up the environment, volunteering on civic projects, or helping a child learn how to read – Masons make a difference every day.
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The Palace Theater
Where the Palace Theater sits today, was home to Bryan’s original City Hall. City Hall burned down in 1909 and council approved building a new one in its place. Reopening in 1910, City Hall housed a theater on the ground floor that was used for live performances, community meetings and other gatherings. The theater on the ground floor was commonly referred to as The Colonial Theater or the Opera House. The building was eventually purchased by Morris Shulman in 1928 and converted fully into a live performance theater. The Shulman family also owned the Queen Theatre and Dixie Theater (now the Stafford Theater). The Palace Theater was donated to the City by the Schulman family in 1987. It is now an open-air performance venue used for live concerts, holiday events and other community gatherings, after the theater’s roof and two side walls collapsed.
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St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
This parish traces its origin to Episcopal services held in nearby Millican in 1864. A yellow fever epidemic in the Millican area prompted the relocation of the Saint Andrew's Mission to Bryan in 1867. A parish was formed that year and led by The Rev. Robert Jope. The original church structure, located near this site, was consecrated by Bishop Alexander Gregg in 1868. The Rev. Randolph Ray held the first service in a new church building at this location in 1914. In 1992 Saint Andrew's celebrated 125 years of service and participation in a variety of community programs and activities. Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church was organized as a mission of the Diocese of Texas in Millican in 1864. When the extension of the railroad from Houston to Bryan and a yellow fever epidemic depleted the population of Millican, the remaining church members moved on to Bryan, where Saint Andrew’s parish was organized on December 10, 1867. The first church building was located at the corner of 25th Street and Parker (then called Red Top), and services there began in 1868. Plans for the present building at the corner of 26th and Parker were underway by 1907. The cornerstone was laid on May 30, 1912, and the congregation moved in and held the first service in the new building on Palm Sunday, April 5, 1914. The building was dedicated, with Bishop George Kinsolving officiating, on May 3, 1914. The church cost $18,000 and is built on the highest point in downtown Bryan. Saint Andrew’s is the oldest church building in Bryan to be in continuous use. The building is constructed of brick and stone in the neo Gothic style. The most distinctive features are its memorial stained glass windows and its interior woodwork which were produced by the artisans of Jacoby Art Glass Company of St. Louis, Missouri, in the distinctive American neoclassical style, distinguished by realistic figures, background landscapes, and architectural details
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Varisco Building
The 7-story late-Deco period style Varisco Building was developed in 1948 (completed 1949) by Biaggio (Brazos) Varisco, a notable Brazos County agriculturalist, and developer. Born in Poggioreale, Trapani, Italy, on October 12, 1902, Varisco immigrated to the U.S. in 1907 and was soon working with his father and brother in the Brazos Valley. Gifted with a logistical mind, a love for business and tireless energy, Varisco quickly grew into a successful planter and business owner. Over time, he acquired 3,100 acres of land, of which 2,300 acres was devoted to cotton raising. Together with his father and a brother named Giuseppe, Varisco purchased a cotton gin capable of processing 2,000 bales of cotton a year. He also bought five airplanes for agricultural spraying. With the wealth he gained from his farms in the Brazos bottomlands, Varisco aided the growth of downtown Bryan and the region in general. After erecting the then-modern & air-conditioned Varisco Building in 1948-49, Biaggio, now known as 'Brazos', eventually became the owner of many other downtown structures. Brazos Varisco played vital civic and economic development roles in Bryan-College Station and remained active in his businesses until his death in 1974.
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Ice House On Main
This property was the site of the city stables before it was sold in 1901 for the construction of an ice house. The oldest part of the existing building was constructed in 1912 and operated as the Bryan Ice Company. An April 22, 1913, article in the Bryan Eagle describes the Bryan Ice Company as “among the most complete and modern in all respects of any in the state,” producing 50 tons of ice per day. Ice was delivered by railroad, processed, and stored in the building’s cork-lined rooms before being sold to area merchants and families for use in coolers and ice boxes. Central to the health and comfort of local residents, Ice House on Main has played a critical role in the community from the very first day it opened. Through the years, the Ice House on Main has been home to a CocaCola distributor, furniture manufacturer, John Deere tractor dealership, and a popular night club, Cell Block Five. It was sold in 1940 and rented out to the Schumacher Wholesale Grocery Company until 1951, when it was occupied by the Southwest Technical School, set up after World War II for returning GIs. With its Mission Revival facade overlooking historic downtown, the Ice House on Main boasts 20,000 sq. ft. of event and dining space. Situated at the North end of Bryan’s historic district, the Ice House on Main still boasts original materials, from wood floors with the rich patina from decades of wear, to the original wood beams, exposed brick, and other architectural elements. Currently, the Ice House on Main serves as an event venue and house farm to table restaurant, Ronin, on the side facing Main Street.
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Astin Mansion
Built in 1920 by Roger Q. and Nina Heard Astin, the Astin Mansion is a paragon of the grand 1920’s style. This architectural gem has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places in an effort to preserve and share this treasure with our community for years to come. The Astin family was a prominent Bryan family who owned Rivermist, a cotton plantation in the Brazos River bottom. Roger Astin died at age 39, leaving Nina widowed with 2 small children, John Heard Astin, and Nina Bess Astin. Nina Heard Astin, who was well known for her generosity and community involvement, outlived both of her children leaving no heirs to the estate so she bequeathed it to this community in the form of the Nina Heard Astin and Nina Bess Astin charitable trust. In 1998 the Astin Mansion was purchased as a Special Events Venue, and since that time has become one of the most well known Wedding Venues in Bryan/College Station. It has been voted “Best Wedding Venue” by The Knot Magazine, won countless floral awards, and received many recommendations from past brides, companies, and organizations.
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Milton Parker Home B&B
The Parker Home was built by Milton and Mollie Parker in 1885. Mrs. Parker drew up the plans for the home, and it was constructed by German carpenters from Dallas for a cost of $6,000. Originally from Millican, Texas, the Parkers owned land in the Brazos River Bottom and were a prominent family in Bryan. Milton Parker made his money by launching many businesses including banks, cotton plantations and a lumber company. They were local celebrities of their time and frequently made the newspaper for the social gatherings, outings, dinner parties, and eventually weddings. It’s been said that they built their home along the railroad so that Mollie Parker could flag down the train to Houston to take her and her daughters shopping. The Parkers raised 10 children in this home and it remained in the Parker family until 1991. The home boasts 5,000 square feet of historical elegance including seven fireplaces and closets in each bedroom, which was a very unique aspect of a 19th century home. During the Depression years, the home was in the possession of the second generation of Parkers, Milt and Maggie. The home was opened as a boarding house and rented for social occasions. “Miss Maggie” gave the home a new name, “The Oaks”. The third generation of Parkers, Katie Parker Bernath and her husband Robert, lived in this home from 1958 until 1991. The home was gifted to Texas A&M University in 1991 and then later purchased by Dr. Van Walker in 1999, who restored it to its original glory. Since 2016 the home has been operated as the Milton Parker Home B&B offering a one of a kind experience in one of the oldest homes in Bryan, TX. The home was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
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Temple Freda
Bryan’s Jewish community was born in the 1860’s as an outgrowth of earlier central European immigration that began after the widespread but short-lived revolution of 1848. Immigrant Jews were some of the first settlers in the newly built town of Bryan, a product of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. The Sanger Brothers followed the railroad north, building stores in each town along the way. In 1867, they built a store in Bryan, which was run by Lehman Sanger. Later immigrants also opened businesses. In 1870, the small group founded the Hebrew Benevolent Society and bought a plot of land from the city to build a cemetery. By 1873, eight Jewish families and a few single Jewish men called Bryan home. In 1890, a sufficient number of Jewish citizens lived in Bryan for them to organize an official congregation, which for several decades met in member’s homes for worship services, primarily on the High Holy Days such as Yom Kippur. Without ready access to an official rabbi, services were frequently sporadic and often lay-led. However, by 1912 the congregation was incorporated and chartered and decided to build a synagogue. That same year, Mr. J. W. English, downtown Bryan businessman and a member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, sold parts of lot 6 and 7 in block 117 of Bryan (a section fronting along Parker Street next to the railroad tracks) for the token sum of $10 to the Jewish community. His stipulation for the sale was that it must be used exclusively for “religious or benevolent purposes.” This site became the future home of the oldest Jewish institution in the Brazos Valley, Temple Freda Reform Congregation. The synagogue was named for Mrs. Ethel Freda Kaczer, late wife of the congregation’s president. It holds the distinction of being the only Texas synagogue, and one of only four synagogues world-wide, named for a woman. The other three synagogues are in Tripoli, Libya, and Hong Kong and Shanghai, China. Temple Freda was built out of many of the same building material as nearby St. Andrews, much of it donated by local citizens including many non-Jewish community members. In fact, Temple Freda and St. Andrew’s were built simultaneously, although St. Andrew’s was built along Gothic lines while Temple Freda was designed in the Greek Revival style.
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Ibarra Elementary School Site
In 1935, the Bryan School Board elected to construct a two-room, wooden school building for Spanish-speaking children for grades one through four. The site chosen was on the Joe Batts property along the new route for Highway 21, west of the city. The site in west Bryan was purchased by the city on June 20, 1935. The school was named for Reverend Guillermo Ibarra who served as the first pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista of Bryan from 1922-1929. He believed that education was the key to social development, achievement, and success. During this time schools were segregated and it was often difficult for Hispanic children to get to school because of distance and the lack of transportation. The principal of the Ibarra School was C.M. Bethany. Esther Price and Philippa Stoneham were the first teachers. They could speak both English and Spanish. Students had mixed experiences, from being segregated to being punished for speaking Spanish. Breakfast and lunch for students was provided by the “relief program.” The parent-teacher association was active and put on a spring program where children would sing and dance. Citizenship classes were offered to Latin American residents who desired to become citizens. Boy Scout meetings were held at Ibarra school under the leadership of Pete L. Rodriguez and Manuel Herrera, Sr. On Friday nights, movies were shown outside on the playground for the community. Ibarra Elementary served children from 1935-1949 when it was renamed San Jacinto Elementary and served as a school until 1960. Ibarra Elementary School was located on the current site of Ibarra Park.
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Freedman's Town
Freedman’s Town in Bryan was also known as Hall’s Addition to the city of Bryan. This was one of the earliest communities of African Americans in Brazos County after the Civil War. Freedman’s Towns were an African-American municipality or community built by freedmen, former slaves who were emancipated during and after the American Civil War. These towns emerged in a number of states, most notably Texas, and offered a safe community where freed slaves were able to start businesses, churches and schools. William J. Bryan by his attorney Guy M. Bryan, Jr. sold C.G. Baxter lot 8 plus four acres of lot 7 “lying in front of one acre sold to Bowles and Roberts”, for $270; deed dated 1 November 1867 (Brazos County Deed Record Book H, p.521). C.G. Baxter sold H.R. Hall lot # 8 and four acres off lot # 7, the same being the property he purchased from William J. Bryan [this deed is described in the deed index as "sundry lots Halls town"], for $910, on 13 November 1867; witnesses were S.P. Hollingsworth and E. Wilson (Brazos County Deed Book H, p.541) So, only part of lot 7 was sold to H.R. Hall in this deed, and the November 1867 date makes sense as the beginning of Hall's Addition.
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Brazos Valley African American Museum
The mission of the Brazos Valley African American Museum is to explore, develop, preserve and present the cultural history and heritage of African Americans. The museum will promote individual and community awareness, understanding, pride, and respect for the contributions that African Americans have made in the past and present to the American experience.
Sun-Mon: Closed | Tues-Fri: 12PM-5PM | Sat: 12PM-4PM
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Ursuline Academy
The Ursuline Sisters, founded by St. Angela in Italy in 1535, opened their first girls' school in North America in Quebec in 1639. In 1727, they opened the Ursuline Academy in New Orleans, followed in 1846 with the Ursuline Academy in Galveston. In addition to teaching, the nuns served as nurses during epidemics, hurricanes, fires and the Civil War. Their Galveston Academy building served as a refugee shelter despite heavy damages sustained in the devastating 1900 storm. Seeking a new school site further inland, Mother Superior Mary Joseph Dallmer selected Bryan over several other cities. With donations from Bryan citizens, the sisters purchased land from W.R. and Mary (Mitchell) Cavitt and began plans for Villa Maria Ursuline Academy at this site, which became known as St. Ursula's Hill. Contractor George Jenkins built a school and dormitory using a Nicholas Clayton design. The school opened in September 1901, but construction continued until October 21, St. Ursula's feast day. Girls at the academy studied traditional subjects, as well as sports and music, and maintained a large farm. The sisters worked closely with St. Joseph's Catholic Church and School, where they also taught. Facing low enrollment and burdened by the debt of costly building repairs, Villa Maria Ursuline Academy closed in 1929. Former U.S. Consul General Williamson S. Howell, Jr. bought the property and built a 24-room house using bricks from the school. The few graves of Ursuline nuns on the property were removed to Galveston, where the school resumed operations. Howell later sold to Allen Academy, which retained ownership until 1973. Today, nearby street names reflect the impact of both the academy and Howell.
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Coulter House
In 1871, John Coulter married Nannie Robinson and purchased the two-room board and batten dog-trot house built between 1867 and 1870, making it one of the first houses in Bryan. The house was expanded with a wing to the north during the 1870’s, and the dog-trot enclosed. The house is in the Greek Revival style and constructed of cypress and rosemary pine. In 1903, Coulter moved parts of the house to the north and built a large house facing 26th Street. The remains of the old house were used as servant’s quarters. The 1903 house was moved off the property in the 1970’s. The carriage house, one of a number of outbuildings that existed on the site, is situated in the northwest corner of the block and was constructed about 1880. The main doors open to Houston Street on the west. The main room is some twenty four feet long and fourteen feet wide, with an upper loft surmounted by a louvered cupola. There is a lean-to storage element on three sides, the one on the east being later. The exterior is board and batten with a corrugated metal roof over the original wood shingles.
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Astin-Porter House
One of the most majestic and stately historical homes in the Brazos Valley is the former Astin-Porter home located at 600 E. 29th Street. The land upon which the home is built comes from the ninth league granted by the Mexican Government to Stephen F. Austin as a part of his reward for locating 300 families in Texas. The home came to be by the Astin family, who has significant roots and importance in Bryan and throughout the Brazos Valley. James Astin and his first wife, Celia Ashbrook moved to the Brazos Valley in 1864 where they had four sons. Celia died in 1874 and James re-married to Mrs. Onah Ward, a schoolteacher, and they had two sons and a daughter. The family grew cotton along the Brazos River and had several plantations owned by the sons in the family. However, after Mr. Astin died in 1897, the family began to build residences in the City of Bryan. Mrs. Onah Astin purchased five lots in October 1901 and retained the architectural firm of Howard Messer and W. Wemyss Smith to build the home. Onah built this colonial house for her daughter, Daisy, with construction beginning in 1901 and the home completed in 1903. Mrs. Astin and her sons continued to make valuable contributions to the City of Bryan, and have ties to the construction of the Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches, support to the Bryan Academy, the purchase of Merchants and Planters National Bank (renamed to City National Bank), and John E. Astin serving as one of the first Postmasters from 1912 to 1915. Roger managed the large commissary near the Brazos bottoms and owned an extensive plantation. However, probably the most famous Astin was Bob who was elected to the State Senate in 1912 and served until 1916. He was the only son to live in the Astin home on East 29th St. and regularly entertained in the home, with two of his more famous guests being Governor James E. (“Pa”) and Mrs. Miriam A. (“Ma”) Ferguson. Mrs. Onah Astin died in 1944 and the home was sold to Henry Buchanan and later sold to a local cotton plantation owner, Holland Porter, in 1946. The Porter family had a lengthy residence in the area after Holland’s grandparents settled in Caldwell from Mississippi. The family continued to live in Caldwell until they began farming cotton in 1912. At that time Holland Porter, his parents, and two brothers moved near the Brazos River on the family farm where they grew up. Holland married and moved his family to the home on East 29th St. in 1946 where he reared his family until 1978 when the property was sold. The home remains one of the finest examples of Classical Revival architecture in Bryan.
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Martin's Place BBQ
In December 1924, Martin Kapchinskie purchased land at this site, along a one-lane country road connecting Bryan to Texas A&M University, near the communities of Union Hill and Midway. Here, he opened a store for travelers and named it Martin's Place, where he offered groceries, a public telephone, gasoline and barbecue. The original building was a wooden, screened structure, with a small pit inside, and tables and a large pit outside. During the 1930s, Kapchinski sold some of the surrounding land to maintain the business during the Great Depression. By 1939, he had enough money to build a more substantial building, a red brick structure with a kitchen inside and a barbecue pit attached at the back. The interior, designed like a cafe, included a tall bar. Following World War II, Kapchinskie's son Albin joined him as a partner. Albin, who had served during the war as a butcher in the Navy, added a meat market to Martin's Place in 1951. A horseshoe-shaped bar replaced the original tall bar. In 1955, Albin purchased the business from his father, who retired to Michigan. As Bryan and College Station grew and the automobile greatly changed the way people lived, Martin's Place became more than a rest stop for travelers. Still in the Kapchinskie family, the restaurant has become part of local life and a place of fond memories for generations of Texas A&M University students. Longtime patrons of Martin's recall "Uncle" Steve Holik, who served tables from 1946 until 1987, and for decades area residents came for daily domino games and to shoot pool. Although the world around it has developed rapidly, Martin's Place has changed little from its early days, remaining a popular stop for rest and refreshment.
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