The Museum for East Texas Culture


Palestine and Anderson County's Most Informative Tourist Attraction.

Est. 1982


Monday - Saturday 10:00 to 5:00
Sunday 1:00 to 4:00

400 Micheaux Ave.
Palestine, Texas 75801
Phone (903) 723-1914 Fax (903) 723-5991
e-mail: director[at]


The Museum for East Texas Culture resides in the old Palestine High School building on Micheaux Street in Reagan Park. It was designed and built in 1915-1916. The building was used as a High School, then a Junior High, and finally an Elementary School. It was last used as a school in May 1976. By 1981, the City of Palestine had scheduled the building for demolition.

Since a great many people in Palestine were reluctant to see the old building go, the city agreed to give the group fifteen years to prove themselves and the Museum officially opened on March 19, 1982, for the first weekend of Dogwood Trails.

During the following years, work has progressed steadily with most all work being done by local volunteers. Numerous temporary exhibits have been displayed as well as permanent exhibits set up as the Museum has grown.

The Museum for East Texas Culture has come a long way since its beginning in 1982, and is already taking its place as one of the most informative and interesting small museums in the State.


The International Railroad came to Palestine in 1872. Then came the Houston and Great Northern. The two roads merges in 1873 and became the International and Great Northern Railroad. In 1874-1875, 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 then with the Union Pacific Railroad which now has limited freight facilities and car shops in Palestine.

Recordings in this room are sound effects of an old Steam Engine and Mr. Horace Shelton, who, with his twin brother, Morns Shelton. played in the Railroad Band. Horace Shelton's trumpet is on display in the railroad room.

Along with many other railroad artifacts, such as lanterns, oil cans, rail sections, tools and photographs, are the counter, desk and telegraph key from the now demolished Palestine Railroad Depot.


This room has been developed by members of the Palestine Fire Department. it shows the history of local fire fighters. The fire hydrant on display was patented in the 1800's and was used in Palestine at the intersection of Spencer and Lacy Streets from 1900-1992. The glass fire grenades (an early form of fire extinguisher) are always of interest to Museum visitors. The latest acquisition to this room is the quarter-inch scale diorama of the first volunteer fire department in Palestine. This model of the "Hope, Hook, and Ladder Company" was built and donated to the Museum by Robert Stuard, a former Anderson County resident.


John H. Reagan was originally from Tennessee, but came to Palestine as a young man. He was a local lawyer and judge. He served in the United States Congress and Senate. While in Congress, he introduced the Bill establishing the Interstate Commerce Commission. He was the chairman of the first Texas Railroad Commission. Perhaps, he is most famous for having served as Postmaster General for the Confederacy under President Jefferson Davis. In this capacity, he operated the only profitable post office the United States has ever known. Near the end of the Civil War, when many others were abandoning the cause, John H. Reagan also served as Secretary of the Treasury. He was captured along with Jefferson Davis. Later when he was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson, he returned to Palestine. Mr. Reagan died in 1905, and is buried in Palestine's East Hill Cemetery. A statue of him by Pompeo Coppini stands in Reagan Park in Palestine.

The dining table in this room was built for the Reagans in 1891 by convicts at the Rusk State Penitentiary, and is inlaid with 996.000 pieces of wood. The child's rocking chair was built for a Reagan grandchild by one of the family's slaves.

This room also contains memorabilia from Governor Thomas Campbell. who was the second native born Texan to be governor. He was influenced to enter politics by his friend, Governor Hogg (the first native Texan to be governor). Both men were born across the Neches River from Palestine in Cherokee County. Mr. Campbell was a lawyer, and at one time, the general manager of the I. & G.N. Railroad. He was a two term governor from 1907-1911.

This exhibit is being completely redone and will be combined with the Architecture Exhibit in a newly remodeled room on the third floor of the building.


This room is a replica of a class room as it might have been when school was is session in this building. It contains school history in the form of desks, chairs, lamps and books. There is also a collection of trophies and diplomas from the schools of this area. Museum visitors find the collection of Palestine High school yearbooks, the "Arc Light," dating from 1912 to the present) to be one of our most interesting exhibits. This is especially true of those who either went to school here themselves, or had relatives who attended here. A lot of old memories are stirred in this room.


Our new Black History Exhibit should be completed by the end of July and will be a great addition to the museum. It contains a tremendous amount of information so plan to spend some time here. This exhibit has been made possible through the efforts of a committee from the African American community of Palestine led by Mrs. June McCoy. An unbelievable number of hours has been put into this effort. We are very grateful to this group for all of their efforts and know you will be very pleased with the work they have done.


On display in the Museum Auditorium is a turn of the century bank teller's cage. The beautiful auditorium is available to the public for various functions such as weddings, seminars, dances, corporate dinners, and family reunions. There is room to seat approximately 250 people via movable seating. Tables can be set up to feed the same number at dinners or reunions. A small kitchen is available on the first floor for use in conjunction with such events. Throughout the year the Museum has various concerts and functions in the auditorium. The ornate stage is designed to provide wonderful acoustics.


The gymnasium is unique in that it had no bleachers or seats for spectators. High-upon either side of the gym above the locker rooms is a spectator gallery. Sports fans would rather stand up here to view the games going on below in the gym. 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 by called Ioni, a settlement named after the Ioni Indians, who had villages in the vicinity of Ioni Creek. This area is near what is now Denson Springs. The cabin was donated to the museum by the great-grand-daughter of Ingrain Hudson, Mrs. Lorena Wright Shoultz. Mrs. Shoultz was a resident of Grapeland until her death. When finished, the cabin will certainly be one of the main attractions of the Museum


The medical/pharmacy room contains a collection of exhibits from the medical field. There are doctor's examining tables and dentist's chairs, a wooden wheel chair and an antique hospital bed. All along the North wall is a display case on loan from Presley Crook Pharmacy, one of the early pharmacies in Palestine. It is filled with many of the medicines of days gone by as well as early cameras, films and drugstore items. A white wrought-iron table with a glass top from the Bratton Drug Store soda fountain is also on display. The East side of the room displays the interior of Crawford's Barber Shop. Mr. Crawford barbered in Palestine for many years. One can see the barber chairs complete with booster seats as well as the lighted barber pole and shoe shine stand.

The adjacent room contains a reconstruction of the medical office of Dr. R.H. Bell who practiced medicine in Palestine for many years. It features many early medical fixtures. The highlight of this exhibit is the very early X- Ray machine. This exhibit was made possible by gifts from the family of Dr. Bell.


The Archives rooms house the many files of documents, photographs, hooks and artifacts not on display elsewhere in the Museum. This part of our facility is not normally open to the public for security reasons. It is available by appointment to person wishing to do research. Our archives crew (all volunteers, by the way) have spent countless hours arranging and cataloging these priceless items so that this wealth of information is readily available to the researcher.


There are numerous items on display in the hallways of the Museum. These include such things as a grist mill, incubator, corn shellers, and other early work savers. There is also an early Linotype machine and printing press. The main floor hallway has a number of cases making up what is designated as the "Legends and Legacies" exhibit. This exhibit was designed to tell the early history of Anderson County and Palestine. The exhibit opened in March of 1996 in celebration of the sesquicentennial of Anderson County. Each case addresses a different facet of the county's early history. Subjects of the exhibit include education, entertainment, military, medicine, business and industry.


The Annie B. Rogers Art Exhibit consist of paintings by Ms. Rogers, a local artist and teacher who is now deceased. The paintings were donated to the Museum by her family. Most striking are the life-size self-portrait and the large portraits of her father and mother, who were early Anderson County pioneers. There are other portraits, as well as still lifes and religious paintings.


This exhibit on the third floor contains the Museum's collection of typewriters, adding machines, computers, and other business related machines. These will bring back memories, both good and bad, to many as they trace the advances in business technology.


Our photography exhibit is sponsored in part by the Palestine Herald Press. The exhibit features photographs of people and events in and around Palestine. These photos were made by former Palestine photojournalist Joel Andrews. Also featured in this exhibit is an extensive antique camera display. The majority of these cameras were donated to the Museum in 1997 by Mr. Lamar Roberson, a local photographer for many years.


Under construction now is a complete "Old Time" working print shop. It will be located on the lower floor and will feature various machines donated by local and other printing companies.


Like all small museums, OUR MUSEUM NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT. You can become a Museum member for as little as $25.00 per year for the entire family. The Museum is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization so your membership may even be tax deductible. Call 903-723-1914 today and see how to join.