The grand opening of Legacy Plaza’s Texas Botanical Gardens and Native American Interpretive Center — a dream that for many locals has been a long time coming — is set for Saturday, Oct. 11.
Executive Director Jan Fischer told The Eagle recently that the Gardens are set to be completed in May, and exhibits will be added starting in June through September. There were more than 60 trees already planted at the site as of early April, and many of the native plants and grasses were on schedule to be in place by the end of April, Fischer said.
The flora that is being incorporated at the Gardens is meant to depict the environment on ridge line west of Goldthwaite along the Colorado River as it was when the first people were inhabiting Central Texas a couple thousand years ago, she went on to say.
The Garden and the Center will include National Park Standard exhibit panels, illustrated by acclaimed International Wildlife Illustrator Karen Carr. The exhibits are designed by Drew Patterson, and the landscape design is by local man Tab Ledbetter.
Spectators and those looking to experience what Legacy Plaza has to offer can also look forward to the demonstration areas, Fischer said, which include a burned rock midden and several bedrock mortars. Fischer stressed that organizers do not use mortars that have been removed from historic sites, but rather structures that are impacted in some way (by erosion, for example). The midden was excavated by the Texas Historical Commission several years ago and vandalized, she said.
Exhibit Sculptor Peggy Maceo has been tapped to set up the burned rock midden, Fischer added.
Other exhibits will include wickiup camps, which predate the tipi, made from branches and brush. These are the structures that would have been used by native people a couple thousand years ago.
There will also be a flint-knapping demonstration area, Fischer said.
The emphasis on native plants in the exhibit panels is important, she said, because “we now know a lot about the people that were here due to these plants.”
“We are trying to teach about and foster an interest in the cultural heritage of the earliest people in Central Texas,” Fischer said. “Another of our objectives is to foster good stewardship of the land, the plants, and the water.”
The site features a 40,000 gallon custombuilt water storage tank, as well as irrigation systems to water the Gardens. In Phase II of the project, another tank will be added. Fischer said she and the other organizers hope Legacy Plaza will promote eco-tourism, which has the potential to seriously boost the local economy.
The absolute main priority of those involved with Legacy Plaza, however, she went on to say, is education. Legacy Plaza organizers are comprised of not only Mills County landowners and history enthusiasts, but also those in Comanche, Brown, Hamilton, Lampasas and San Saba counties.
This area is home to many “under-served rural children, with 26 percent of them below the poverty level,” Fischer noted. These children do not currently have access to interactive demonstrations, museums, galleries, and the like, as children in the more urban areas do, she said. Children will be permitted to participate in Legacy Plaza programs and see the exhibits for free all year long, she said.
The main consultant for Legacy Plaza is Karen Fort from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, and other consultants include members of the Comanche Nation Language and Cultural Committee. The project is also partners with the Laura Bush Foundation, Taking Care of Texas, the LCRA, the Brown County Museum of History, the Mills County Historical Museum, and others.
The grand opening event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, and will include interactive demonstrations all day and hourly guest speakers, Fischer said. Legacy Plaza’s main fund-raising event, Prairie Experience, pays for the operating costs of the Gardens. Prairie Experience V is set for Saturday, Oct. 4, on the Fisher Street site. For more information about the fundraiser or to get tickets, contact Fischer at 325-642-7527.
Fischer explained the name Legacy Plaza, actually refers to the whole block, and will include not only the Texas Botanical Gardens and Native American Interpretive Center (5013c), but also eventually the Goldthwaite Welcome Center and the Pavilion. The physical address of the plaza is 1203 Fisher Street, and the mailing address is PO Box 513, Goldthwaite, TX, 76844.
Republished with permission of the Goldthwaite Eagle.