Friday, August 24, 2012

Totally Texas -- Plano's 19th century farm

Heritage Farmstead Museum

1900 W. 15th St. (just east of Custer Road)

Plano, Texas


We’re doing a countdown of activities before school starts Monday, and realized we haven’t been to Plano’s Heritage Farmstead Museum in way too long. The showpiece of the four acre site is the ornate two-story Farrell-Wilson House, built by Hunter Farrell for his family in 1891. My daughter’s twenty-first century kids, however, prefer the chickens.

The flock’s resident rooster is speckled Sussex Jewel, hatched along with his sister Juliet in March of this year. Jewel presides over a flock of hens of several breeds, acquired by purchase, donation, and in one case, rescue of a homeless hen. (Please note that the museum can only accept hens, not additional roosters.)

The museum’s animal population has varied over the years we’ve been visiting, but in addition to the chickens it currently includes goats, sheep, donkeys, guinea fowl and two turkeys of the antique Bourbon Red breed -- Sam and Travis. And although she’s not in the “live” stock category, the life size model cow called Buttermilk (resembling a similar cow in the Children’s Museum at Fair Park) allows visitors to practice their milking techniques.

We took a break in the rocking chairs on the wrap-around porch of the Farrell-Wilson House, whose nine original colors, including red, green and yellow, make it a showplace even in this century. The site was a working farm run by the Farrells and later by their daughter Ammie and her husband Dudley Wilson until the 1970’s. Soon after Ammie Farrell Wilson’s death in 1972, a museum was founded to preserve the house and grounds, which host more than 30,000 visitors each year.

The museum’s buildings also include the 1880’s Young House, moved from its original site in far north Plano; a one-room schoolhouse (red, of course); and the various outbuildings of a nineteenth-century farm, including carriage house, curing shed, root cellar, and blacksmith shop.

The museum’s grounds are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except for major holidays. During summer hours (through September 1 this year), docents lead tours of the farm and buildings at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. Sundays. Entry fee for docent tours is $5 for adults, $3.50 for children ages five through 18 and for adults age 65 and older. Tours last approximately ninety minutes. Visitors may also take self-guided tours of the grounds only, for a suggested donation of $2 per person.

There’s more information available at And tell Jewel we said “hi.”

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