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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  • Tour the best of Bryan, TX

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...
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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...
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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,...
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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...
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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...
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The Queen Theatre
A movie theatre has been at this location since 1913 and named “The Queen” since 1914. The theater 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...
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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...
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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...
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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,...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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Brazos Valley African American Museum
On March 30, 1885, the City of Bryan purchased seven lots off of what is now Preston Ave and Pruitt St for $200 from F.A. Rise and William R. Baker as a site for a public school to provide separate but equal and impartial instruction for black children of the community, as prescribed by the Texas...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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,...
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