Fire Department Room
The Fire Department Room was developed by members of the Palestine Fire Department to honor the fire departments of days gone by. It displays the history of local fire fighters. The hydrant on display was made in the 1800s and was used in Palestine at the intersection of Spencer and Lacy streets from 1900-1909. The glass fire grenades (an early form of fire extinguisher) are always of interest. The “Hope, Hook and Ladder Company” was established in 1881. Take time to look at the quarter-inch scale diorama of the first volunteer fire department in Palestine, “Hope, Hook and Ladder Company.” It was built and donated to the museum by Robert Stuard, a former Anderson County resident.
Main Floor Hallway
Numerous historical items on display in the hallways exhibits of the museum tell the early history of Palestine and Anderson County. All of the hallways exhibits are unique, and each case front is adorned with a star. The cases were in the Hall of State at the Dallas State Fair when in opened in 1936. You will see everything from cotton bales to an old crank telephone. Subjects include education, entertainment, military, medicine, business and industry.
Located on the main floor, the Railroad Room is filled with memorabilia recalling the great days of the railroad in Palestine. This exhibit has everything from railroad tracks to crossing lights, including lanterns, oil cans, tools, photographs, and the counter, desk and telegraph from the now demolished Palestine Railroad Depot. Listen to the recordings of sound effects of an old steam engine when you visit the Railroad Room. Horace Shelton’s trumpet is on display in the Railroad Room. He, along with his twin brother Morris Shelton, played in the railroad Band in the early days.
When the railroad came it became the center of Palestine’s economy and a great part of the social life of Palestine’s citizens. The International Railroad arrived in 1872, then came Houston and Great Northern. The two merged in 1873, and became the International and Great Northern Railroad. In 1870-1875, the general offices, shops and yards of the I.&G.N were moved to Palestine. In later years, the I.&G.N merged with the Missouri-Pacific Railroad. The Missouri-Pacific Railroad merged with the Union Pacific Railroad, which today has limited freight facilities and a car shop in Palestine.
Step back in time to your days in school by taking a moment to visit the School Room. This room has been restored to be as it was in the early 1900s. There are different era school desks in this room along with a teacher’s desk, black boards, and teaching aids. This room also displays items such as a diploma from the very first graduating class. School yearbooks from as far back as 1912 are available for viewing also. This is a favorite for grandparents to show their grandchildren what a school room would have looked like in the early days.
GYMNASIUM- LOG CABIN EXHIBIT
The gymnasium, located one level down, is unique in that it had no bleachers or seats for spectators. High-upon either side of the gym above the locker rooms was the spectator gallery. Fans would stand and watch the games in the gym below. Today, the main attraction in the gym is the Ingram Hudson Log Cabin. This cabin was built in 1857 by the Ingram Hudson family at what used to be called Ioni, a settlement named after the Ioni Indians, who had villages in the vicinity of Ioni creek. This area was near what is now known as Denson Springs. The cabin was donated to the Museum by the great-grand-daughter of Ingram Hud- son, Mrs. Lorena Wright Shoultz. The cabin is one of the Museum’s main attractions.
Black History Room
This room displays the history of Palestine’s African American citizens and their many achievements. Every area of black history is represented including school, church, military, athletics, political and social history. The room and its displays trace the history of yesteryear and today. You can read about many prominent leaders, families and individuals, including Ephriam P. Murray and Williamson families, as well as others such as Dorothy Robinson. The Grant Chapel Methodist Church and Pilgrim Hill Baptist Church are among the early historical churches. The Black History Room includes pictures, legal documents, news articles, books and many historical items. Take a walk down memory lane and experience a revelation of little-known facts.
CADDO INDIAN EXHIBIT
Information and artifacts from the early settlers of East Texas. This display is made possible by Norris White and others that have loaned their items for you to enjoy.
GLASS CONTAINERS ROOM- GARDEN CLUB ROOM
On the top floor you will find a room dedicated to the Old Glass Plant which was one of the main sources of employment in Palestine for approximately 40 years. The Garden Club Room was combined with the Glass Containers Room in 2010. There are many items of interest from flowers to butterflies added to the interesting display of locally manufactured glass.
On the North end of the top floor is the Reagan Room. This is one of the most fascinating rooms in the Museum. It depicts John H. Reagan’s life from a young man to his death in 1905. Perhaps, he is most famous for having served as Postmaster General for the Confederacy under President Jefferson Davis. Truly a history buff’s dream come true, there are so many interesting artifacts relating to Reagan in this room that you will want to take extra time and enjoy it all.
PALESTINE POLICE MUSEUM
History of the Palestine Police Department from 1871 to 2008 in displayed in pictures and documents from Charles Steen and other individuals’ collections.
TOP FLOOR EXHIBITS
As you make your way to the top floor you can’t help but marvel at the old school building that houses the Museum. You can almost hear the sounds of the children as they hurry up and down the stairs trying to get to class before the bell rings. As you walk you wonder what it must have been like when the school was first built in 1915.
BOTTOM FLOOR EXHIBITS
At the bottom of the stairs on the first floor you will find the reconstructed medical office of Dr. R. H. Bell who practiced medicine in Palestine for many years. It features many early medical fixtures including the highlight of the exhibit, a very early X-Ray Machine. In the adjacent room you will find things such as a wooden wheel chair and an antique hospital bed. Along the north wall you will find items on loan from Presley Crook Pharmacy, one of Palestine’s early pharmacies. To add to the many interesting things to see on the lower level, there are new exhibits such as an early print shop, barber shop and a replica of the office of Optometrist Dr. E.P. McCall. The iron lung on display is always of interest to our visitors.
The archives rooms are located on the first floor and house the many files of documents, photographs, books and artifacts not on display elsewhere in the Museum. This part of the facility is not normally open to the public for security reasons. It is available by appointment to anyone wishing to do research. The archives crew, has spent countless hours arranging and cataloging these historical items so that this wealth of information is readily available to researchers.
Bascom Bentley Exhibit
A native of Palestine, District Judge Bascom Bentley has been collecting Autographs, sports memorabilia and local historical items for the past 40 years. The collection takes in three large rooms that was once the museum Art Gallery on the third floor. One room is all College Sports, one room is Pro Sports. The sports rooms are filled with autographed footballs, jerseys and helmets. The third room is filled with autographs, political buttons, artifacts and photographs.
Rotary Club Exhibit
Opened in December 2019