Heritage House offers a historical walk in the past

Published 10:26 am Wednesday, April 25, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader

While the Heritage House Museum may not be open as it is still in recovery mode after Hurricane Harvey, the board still wanted residents to be able to step back in time.

Heritage House Board President Sue Denosowicz said the tour is part of the museum’s mission to preserve and tell the history of Orange County, according to a press release.

“This is not a ghost walk like we did for Halloween,” Museum Director Linda Garrett said. “This is our first walk in the cemetery.”

Docents will be at selected sites to tell the story of the people who are buried there. People will also get a chance to see some of the unusual and elaborate tombstones.

The cemetery dates back to when Robert Jackson bought 35 acres of land in 1835. One of the first burials could have been in 1840.

A Texas Historical Marker at the site says people called it “The Cemetery that Mr. Jackson Bought” or “City Cemetery.” By 1898 or 1899, the graveyard was called “Evergreen.”

Denosowicz warns the tour will involve walking. The terrain is uneven and includes crawfish holes, and possibly ants. She recommends people wear flat, enclosed shoes.

“We went a week ago to select the locations within the cemetery,” Garrett said. “The tour does not include the entire cemetery. We selected four or five sites and will talk about those people.”

Garrett did not disclose which families would be the topic of the tour but hinted they were all connected to the history of Orange.

“This is something we are hoping to do every year,” Garrett said. “Weather permitting, of course. I have heard it is going to be a pretty day on Sunday.”

Admission is free to members of Heritage House and memberships will be available. Otherwise, the cost will be $5 for adults, $2 for children and $10 for a family. Donations will also be taken for the Evergreen Cemetery Association’s fund to restore some of the time-damaged markers.

Memberships for Heritage House Museum start at $30 a year. It is also time for the membership drive for 2018.

Heritage House Museum has been closed for tours since Tropical Storm Harvey flooded the Administration Building and the Williams Building. Rain caused damage to the main house, the former J.O. Sims residence.

Denosowicz said the Heritage House board has been working with its insurance company and FEMA to restore the museum complex and its collection, according to the press release.

Even after the storm, the museum has held its October Historic Ghost Walk in downtown plus the annual visit with Santa Claus in December. Denosowicz said the museum hopes to make A Walk in the Past cemetery tour another annual event.

“A Walk in the Past” tour of historic Evergreen Cemetery is from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 29.

The cemetery is off Border Street at the intersection with Jackson Street. Tour goers should park on Jackson Street.

The tours begin as one arrives.