Memorial Museum Board needs help to restore museum


GONZALES — The Gonzales Memorial Museum Advisory Board of Directors has unveiled a four-phase restoration and renovation effort for the Memorial Museum in Gonzales.

According to the Advisory Board, the movement to renovate and restore the Memorial Museum is designed to coincide with the state of Texas bicentennial in 2036, and the centennial of the Memorial Museum, which was given as a gift to the city by the state of Texas and Governor James V. Alred. The museum is only one of nine centennial buildings built during the Texas Centennial celebration. It was officially dedicated on Oct. 30, 1937.

“The Memorial Museum is one of the true historic treasures of Gonzales,” said Gary Schurig, director of the museum. “For over 80 years the museum has showcased the history of Gonzales and the state of Texas. It has served as our first library, preserved artifacts, it has housed the First Shot cannon, and boasts our lovely amphitheater.”

But the board has recognized that time and Mother Nature have taken a toll on the historic structure. The city — which appointed the five-member advisory board — along with the Texas Historical Commission has developed a professional restoration plan which addresses such large ticket items as foundation work, improved lighting, heating and air-conditioning upgrades, electrical updates and restoration of the famous James Buchanan Winn Jr. murals.

“We are going to encourage fundraising and contributions as we go forward,” said Ann Covert, the secretary-treasurer of the advisory board. “We started last year, but we need a major effort from private businesses, civic organizations, churches and individuals and families.”

One of the most visible parts of the project is to restore the Winn Jr. murals. Winn studied art under Oscar E. Berninghaus and Fred Carpenter in college, and then went to the Académie Julian in Paris, France. He has done murals in a number of major buildings in the state of Texas, including the Highland Park Village Theater, the Driscoll Hotel, the Blackstone Hotel, and the Telanews Building to name but a few. For the Texas Centennial and World’s Fair in Dallas in 1936, Winn assisted Eugene Savage to produce the murals of the Hall of State. Winn died on Dec. 18, 1979 in Wimberley, Texas.

For more information to support this fundraising project, please contact the museum office at 830-672-6350. One way to donate is to purchase a limited edition First Shot print at the museum. There are only 125 left at $100 a piece. If the museum could sell the remaining 125 it would raise $12,500 towards restoration.

The Gonzales Memorial Museum Advisory Board consists of Sandra Mauldin (President), John Tinsley (Vice President), Ann Covert (Secretary-Treasurer), Brent Baker and Polly Sink.