There’s plenty of local history at the Baytown Historical Museum, featuring Native American, Spanish, Mexican, Republic of Texas, and industrial exhibits and artifacts. The museum is housed in the former U.S. post office, a 1937, yellow-brick building designed by U.S. government architect Louis A. Simon in the International style. Carved reliefs on the façade include a propeller plane, a locomotive and a steamship. Inside, a restored, WPA-era mural titled, “Texas,” was painted by artist Barse Miller. The mural portrays a winged, heroic figure about to launch an airplane above a covered wagon and a 19th Century railroad.
The restored, 1910 Brown-McKay Farmhouse at Republic of Texas Plaza Park depicts rural life in a rice-farming community. The original owner, Walter Brown, used hand tools to build the seven-room, one-and-a-half-story wood structure where he and his wife, Maud, raised their family and resided until their deaths in the 1960s. The adjacent, 1894 Wooster Common School is a one-room, frame building that educated students in grades one through seven and also served as a community social center. These sites are operated by the Baytown Historical Preservation Association as a living history museum.
A trip across the Houston Ship Channel via the Fred Hartman Brisge connects Baytown to LaPorte and the past to the present. You can traverse the bridge, or view it from the deck of the oldest continuously operating ferry in Texas. These transportation icons, old and new, are as much a part of Baytown’s heritage as the community’s rice-farming past, oil-refining prosperity, nature centers and fragile wetlands. In 1822, settler Nathaniel Lynch established a trading post and began operating Lynch’s Ferry at the junction of the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou. The ferry transported settlers and supplies, and soldiers wounded at the battle of San Jacinto. Today, the Lynchburg Ferry Service takes passengers to the Battleship TEXAS and San Jacinto Battlegound State Historic Sites.