History of the Stephenville Museum
by Betty Heath
Stephenville's earliest collection of historical memorabilia was displayed by the effort of the Twentieth Century Club. The display was located in a case in the lovely red brick building on the corner of Paddock and Green Streets, the building that then served as our library. For some time this group of women had discussed the possibility of acquiring the old rock cottage on East Washington Street with its surrounding grounds for the purpose of a museum. One member said that she knew the owners of the property and volunteered to speak with them on the matter. This club member reported to the membership that the owners were not interested. Later the club received the message that the owners said that they had sent the wrong person to talk to them. The decision was made to make an end run and the chore was passed to a younger club, The Stephenville Study Club.
Members of the Study Club went to the city council to ask assistance in obtaining the financing to buy the property. The council did not agree to provide funding, but they told the women of the club that they would investigate the possibility of trading property. And so it was that on December 28, 1965, Mayor Jack Arthur signed a deed transferring to Wayne Barham 3.875 acres west of Cleveland Avenue and 8.95 acres known as The Old City Dump. In return they received the cottage and its surrounding grounds most of the way to the Bosque River. On January 6, 1966, Rolland M. Klose of Bexar County sold for $10 the remaining lots that fronted on the river with the stipulation that they be used for a public park. And this is the way the City of Stephenville acquired the property that is now the Stephenville Museum, ten and a half acres that James David Berry, a lawyer and land agent, bought from John Boucher for the sum of $350 in 1869.
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