Steamboat house opens to commemorate Houston’s death
Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 00:07
“Texas, Texas, Margaret,” were the last words Sam Houston said, right before he died on a summer evening in 1863 at the Steamboat House. Since then, the home has become a major museum attraction for the Huntsville community.
Now, for the first time in years, the former home of Sam Houston will be open to the public as the Sam Houston Memorial Museum commemorates the 149 th anniversary of the General’s death on Friday.
The house was built in the 1850s by the former president of Austin College and later was rented to Sam Houston, according to Danielle Brissette, historical interpreter for the museum.
Houston spent the last few weeks of his life in the house after getting sick with pneumonia, Brissette said. He died there on July 26, 1863 near the age of 70 with his wife Margaret, some of his children and his slave by his side.
Steamboat House was moved to its current location during the mid-1930s to help create the Sam Houston Memorial Museum.
Along with the Woodland Home, Steamboat House has become part of the museum’s “crown jewels”, according to Brissette.
The open house will present a rare opportunity for the Huntsville community to immerse themselves in the history of the house, Brissette said.
“We talk a lot about Sam Houston’s life here in Huntsville, and how he raised his kids here,” Brissette said. “Him dying here makes it important because we are connected to him. He’s still here in Oakwood Cemetery, and that continued relationship is what makes [the open house] important.”
Brissette said the idea to have an open house came from the museum’s desire to expand its programming for the community and to prepare for the 150 th anniversary of the General’s death next year.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, people will be able to go inside the house while museum curators will be dressed in traditional Victorian mourning attire to re-enact some odd customs of the time, said Brissette.
“Back then, when someone died, they used to stop the clocks in house, cover up the mirrors and wear special clothes,” she said. “They also had some customs with the body.”
Curators and volunteers will also be speaking about mourning etiquette, Civil War medicine, Masonic burial rights and the history of the Steamboat House.
“Standing inside where Sam Houston and his family spent time is very different from looking through glass,” Brissette said. “It will be a multi-sensory experience for everyone.”
Guests who wear all black to the event will receive free admission to the museum all day long. The event is free to everyone, but donations are accepted. For more information, call the museum at 936-294-1832 or join the Facebook event online.