Day Trips: San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, San Felipe: Rebuilding Texas’s Colonial Capital Is A Step Back In Time – Chronicles


Photos of Gerald E. McLeod

San Felipe de Austin rose from its ashes 185 years after its destruction during the “leaking scratch“backs away from the Mexican General Santa Anna‘s advancing the army. Well, a few buildings have been reconstructed from what was once the colonial capital of Texas.

In 2018, the Texas Historical Commission introduced a state-of-the-art museum northwest of Houston on I-10 to explain the site’s historic role. Last November, a replica of the city was added. The six buildings of the “Austin Villa“The exhibition includes a school, a hotel, a bakery, a courthouse and a newspaper office.

According to Bryan McAuley, manager of the historic site, the new exhibition to the east of the museum recreates a block of buildings that were on the west side of the current FM 1458.

Stephen F. Austin established San Felipe in 1823 as the capital of its colony. When it was destroyed in 1836, it had a population of between 500 and 600, making it the second largest city on the Texas border after San Antonio.

The town flat covered nearly 1,000 acres south of the Brazos River. Only about 100 acres have been developed. “The lots were big and the buildings were small,” says McAuley.

From a bronze diorama on the museum’s back porch, visitors get a bird’s eye view of the colonial capital. “Villa of Austin” shows what the city might have looked like.

Austin’s San Felipe State Historic Site is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. “Villa de Austin” is open for self-guided experiences, with costumed performers to be added on future Saturdays. A path on the north side of the museum winds through what were once the streets of San Felipe.


1,579th in a series. Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at austinchronicle.com/daily/travel.

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