The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Day at the Witte

The other day, a friend asked me to go to the San Antonio Public Library with her. She needed some art supplies she could get at the Library Store. I had never been so off we went. While you can find everything in this library that could find at other large public libraries, you won't find art as beautiful as this Dale Chihuly sculpture everywhere. This beautiful sculpture was carefully disassembled in 2009 and stored while the library redid the windows and atrium area. It was just recently dusted off and reassembled....quite a job.

These are all individual pieces that assemble into this gorgeous sculpture.

Sunday, the grandkids were in town and the weather was not very promising so we decided to pay a visit to the Witte Museum. There is free parking in a structure closeby so at least you don't have the hassle of trying to find a place to park.

Just be aware that a trip to the museum is not an inexpensive treat. Adults are $10 and children are considered adults at 12 years old. This doesn't sound too bad until you realize that the exhibits that receive all the publicity are an extra $10/person so it adds up quickly. Be sure to check for coupons or better yet, a groupon to reduce the cost for your family. Admission is free on Tuesday nights but there is still the extra charge for the most interesting exhibits. We did find the Southwest Exhibit quite interesting and it is part of the admission price. This exhibit greets you at the door and gives you a description of what life was like. It is an extremely realistic talking mannequin. As you can see, the weather was not lovely outside.

Tejano Freighters were the moving companies of the day in the 1700 and 1800's.

The other exhibits that were part of the entry prices were several rooms full of maps. Although they were interesting to us, the kids were quickly bored after looking at a number of them. We all thought this ceiling décor was rather unique to Texas and interesting.


Our next stop was the South Texas Heritage Center, one of the highlights of the visit. They have some really great displays that really make things come alive.

This donkey shows how things were carried from one place to another. They also had a hands-on display that allowed the kids to move weights around to learn how important it was to balance loads properly.


There were a number of lifelike displays of men and horses of the time.

The Indians of the area were well displayed as well.

This is a display of the chuck wagon kitchen that was used to fix meals on the trail.


There were two saddles on display.....hands-on so that everyone could see and feel the difference between a western saddle set-up and a Mexican saddle set-up.


The HEB Body Adventure was probably the biggest hit with the kids. They had a computer set-up so that each person could create their own "pass" for the Adventure. You then inserted the pass at each station so it could track what you did at the station and how it affected your body. This pulley set-up to lift your own weight was very popular.


There were numerous other exhibits on three floors so it took the kids time to try them all. Once you got done, you could get a read out of all that you had done so that was pretty fun.

Overall, I think they had a good time. We looked into the little houses outdoors but didn't dally there as it was raining. The one other area included in the admission price is the B. Naylor Morton Research and Collection Center BUT it is not open weekends. We didn't see the Maya Exhibit which is widely advertised and probably great......because it would have added an additional $10 to each persons admission....not real family friendly unfortunately.

Casa Navarro...A Texas State Historic Site

The Grandkids were back in town for a few days during the week rather than over a weekend which is when they usually come. Steve and I drove up to pick them up in Marble Falls on Wednesday afternoon while Helen was working. I always enjoy spending the time with Steve on a trip whether long or short. Thursday they got together with a friend and Friday we decided to check out one of the sites on the Texas Hill Country Trails Passport.

You may remember telling you about the passport in this post. It is a fun way to check out sites around the Hill Country and keep track of them just like in a regular passport. The passports are free and you can probably find them at any visitors center in the hill country.

As we headed down the highway towards downtown San Antonio, we passed this load of Texas Longhorns. They are actually large barbeque grills. The center of the back lifts up to show the grill.
 
I've lived in San Antonio for over 10 years and this was the first time I've heard about Casa Navarro State Historic Site. It is located at 228 S. Laredo St in downtown San Antonio not far from the Mercado.  You can see that it is a small area tucked away in a neighborhood. There is parking in front. Jose Antonio Navarro had a ranch outside of San Antonio but he purchase a 1.5 acre property on the corner of Laredo and Nueva in 1832. It already had a one room adobe cottage called a jacal that he expended in 1854. He also built the main house and a to story commercial building on the corner. He rented the first floor of that building to a local merchant and used the second story as his office.



You will see several references throughout the historic site referring to "Tejanos".  The term originally meant Spaniards who settled in the area but came to mean Mexicans who ere born in Texas.

Earlier I mentioned that Navarro built a house and a two story building. The lower floor was rented out and became an important part of San Antonio history. In addition to being used as a merchantile, it served as a café, saloon, and grocery store.

One of the things we noticed about the original buildings was the door frames. People were obviously shorter as my 6'4" son had to duck to get inside.

Laredito was one of San Antonio's earliest neighborhoods.


There was an interesting display about adobe brick which was used for many early buildings.

This cutout shows the actual adobe bricks that were used for the buildings. They are now covered over.


Water was very important to early settlers just as it is now but there were no municipal water systems until 1920. This shows how the wells were built.

And this is the actual well with a pump on top.

Before Jose Navarro became a politician, he was a merchant just as his father had been. He imported all kinds of items like books, cloth, wine, sugar, rice, and coffee.


Navarro was a prominent politician and statesman during the early years of Texas' independence and statehood. He was one of only two native-born Texans to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence and served on the committee that wrote the first Texas constitution in 1836.  He was the sole Tejano delegate to the Convention of 1845 where he supported the United States' annexation of Texas. He served two terms in the state senate.



Navarro remained an influential figure in Texas and San Antonio until his death in 1871.
 
We really enjoyed our visit to Casa Navarro and learned a lot about Texas history and one it's famous and influential citizens. It's always so much easier for both kids and adults to learn about history when they can see and touch it.