Museum requests funding

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The Sealy City Council was asked last week to contribute funding toward the $12.5 million museum at San Felipe de Austin state historic site.

Chris Beckendorff, on behalf of the museum, requested $10,000 from the city during a March 13 council meeting. She also invited the public to attend a grand opening event at the new facility at 1:30 p.m. April 27. The museum is at 15945 F.M. 1458 in San Felipe.

“The first chapter of Texas gaining its independence from Mexico started in San Felipe, and it’s so overlooked because, if you recall in your seventh-grade Texas history, the town was ordered to be burned by Sam Houston when Santa Anna was coming up,” Beckendorff said. “They burned everything … That’s probably the most important chapter of this convoluted history that the state of Texas has. It’s quite colorful.”

According to the Texas Historical Commission website, the new San Felipe museum “will offer visitors a chance to see unique objects on display including a desk that once belonged to Stephen F. Austin, an 1830s cast iron printing press and many artifacts recovered during archaeological investigations at the site.” The state has pledged about $5.2 million toward the project, which is “almost compete,” Beckendorff said. That leaves more than $7 million to be raised by philanthropy.

Beckendorff said she plans to approach each municipality in Austin County to ask for donations.

“We’ve got a $12.5 million building that is wonderful,” she said. “[It’s] 10,000 square feet … It’s a wonderful facility. It’s probably the nicest facility in Austin County. I just want your heartfelt consideration.”

City officials said they would look into budgeting a donation in the next fiscal year.

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