Get up close with history

Item File PhotoThe Sam Houston Memorial Museum invites the community to honor the memory of Gen. Sam Houston on the 158th anniversary of his death and funeral by visiting The Steamboat House, which will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday. 

General Sam Houston is widely thought of as a true Texas hero, which makes it only fitting that his hometown honors not only his life but reflects upon his death as well.

To do this, the Sam Houston Memorial Museum will allow visitors to enter the well-preserved Steamboat House, which is closed to the public outside of this event. The Steamboat House, originally named Buena Vista, was the last place that Sam Houston called home as well as the place he died and had his funeral in.

“The Steamboat House is the last home Sam Houston lived in. He died in the downstairs parlor on July 26, 1863, at 6:15 p.m. with Margaret by his side. Supposedly his last words were ‘Texas, Texas, Margaret,’” said Megan Burro, the marketing manager for the Sam Houston Memorial Museum. “The next day on July 27, his funeral was held in the upstairs parlor at 4 p.m., which was followed by a procession with members of the Masonic Lodge accompanying Houston’s body to Oakwood Cemetery.”

Buena Vista was initially built by Dr. Rufus W. Bailey, former president and professor at Austin College as a wedding for his son Frank. After Frank Bailey and his wife rejected the unusually designed house, it was rented out to Sam Houston who had moved back to Huntsville after he was removed from governorship because of his opposition of slavery and secession.

The building was moved from its original location in present-day Oakwood Cemetery to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum ground in 1936 and has served as a monument to the University’s namesake since then.

“Sam Houston was a key figure in not only Texas history, but the history of the United States as a whole,” said museum curator Derrick Birdsall. “On a local level, the city of Huntsville – which just celebrated its 186 birthday – would not be what it is today without the influence of Sam Houston.”

Visitors to the museum will encounter museum staff dressed in historical clothing who will lead them through the house for tours. With their guidance, people will be able to explore the three downstairs rooms and the upstairs parlor. In these areas, costumed historical interpreters will educate visitors about Sam Houston’s life and death there at the Steamboat House.

“The opportunity to visit the home in which Houston died in will allow visitors a little glimpse into the last days of a man who shaped local, state and national history,” Birdsall added.

This immersive event will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, July 26 and is free to the public. The museum store will also be open at this time for those wanting to find something to remember their visit. 

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