Today I went with the “Central Classics” seniors from Central Baptist Church on a day trip to the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence (https://www.antiqueroseemporium.com/), lunch at Must be Heaven in Brenham (http://www.mustbeheaven.com/) and to Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site (https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/washington-on-the-brazos) -- my favorite part of the trip.
Our first stop was at the Antique Rose Emporium, which has an interesting history. While searching for hardy native Texas plants, Mike Shoup and his staff started finding ever-blooming roses surviving without any apparent care in rather desolate surroundings. In 1982, while returning from a delivery and taking an unaccustomed route back to the nursery, one of his co-workers chanced upon a huge rose covering a chain link fence. He took unauthorized samples of flowers and cuttings, which he brought back to show Mr. Shoup. The rose bush was thriving in a completely neglected setting. It was identified by a rosarian as “Mermaid” but it was not available commercially anywhere. Soon it and the other "survivor" roses became the foundation of the Antique Rose Emporium. Roses aren’t the only plants available from the nursery, though. It is like a botanical garden.
From the nursery, we went to Brenham, the county seat of Washington County, to have lunch at Must be Heaven, which is a cafeteria-style sandwich shop. Service was very slow but the food was good. There was time after lunch to walk around the courthouse square a few minutes.
Our next stop was at Independence to visit the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site. It served as the capital of Texas from 1842 to 1845. We began our visit at the very impressive Star of the Republic Museum, which features forty-six exhibits covering over 10,000 square feet on two floors. A twenty-minute video, “Once a Nation,” gives an overview of the period 1836-1846. We didn’t have nearly enough time to take in all the exhibits, so I hope to go back someday.
From the museum we rode in the bus the short distance to the Visitor Services Complex, where an excellent volunteer docent led us to Independence Hall. He was very well informed about the history of the town and the events which led up to the convention of March 1836. The declaration of independence was signed on March 2, 1936, and then for seventeen days thereafter, the delegates worked on a constitution for the new republic.
The hall was an unfinished building with no doors, windows or heat, which normally would not have been much of a problem; but there was unusual, extremely cold weather at that time. They covered the window and door openings with cloths, which barely slowed the wind. This makes it all the more remarkable that so much was accomplished, especially since there was also the problem of Santa Ana’s army advancing in their direction!
It was a very enjoyable trip. It was cloudy most of the day so it wasn’t unbearably warm. We arrived back in Livingston around 6:15.