Like breed it celebrates, longhorn museum endures
More than a year. That’s how long it took the Butler Longhorn Museum in League City to reopen after it was damaged by flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
The first floor got 2 feet of water, and exhibits on the second floor received damage after wind wreaked havoc on the roof and rain snaked down the walls and into the building.
But now the repairs are complete and the museum — most of it anyway — is open and ready to receive the community again.
“For a while, we weren’t even really able to give people an estimate on when we would reopen,” said Monica Hughes, museum director. “That was hard on everybody. We’d have people come in from out of town who had seen something about us online and wanted to come in and tour, but when they’d knock on the door, I’d have to tell them we were closed. I’d open up a little and let them peek in and they would be so upset.”
So for 15 months, the museum wasn’t able to collect income.
The Longhorn museum isn’t just a museum. It also serves in an event venue, hosting weddings, parties and showers for people who’d like to celebrate their special occasion among relics of League City’s rich and colorful history.
“We had to cancel all of the weddings,” Hughes said. “I had two brides break down in tears and that made me break down in tears. It was a mess.”
But the sun has come out for the Butler Longhorn Museum.
“The museum portion is open,” Hughes said. “We can have community members and students come in and tour, we can host events inside — we can continue our goal of honoring the Butler family and sharing that historical legacy they created with the rest of the world.”
The Butler family migrated to the area in 1854 from Calcasieu Parish in Louisiana and owned about 50,000 acres over an area now part of League City, Kemah, Friendswood and much of mainland Galveston County. The family is credited with helping save the longhorns from extinction.
Of course, not everything could be saved. While most of the exhibits could be — and were — redone, there were murals painted on the downstairs walls of the museum that had to be torn apart, victims of the floodwater. They were initially provided by a $20,000 donation from Wells Fargo. It is estimated that it would now cost about $40,000 to have them repainted. Those have not been replaced and with funds low, Hughes does not know when, if ever, they will be.
6 feet of water in building
Another piece of the property put out of commission by the storm is the education building. The museum, which Hughes says has an inviting appearance after repairs, is a stark contrast to the ravaged education building, which served as a place for music lessons, lectures, performing arts, art lessons, children’s book clubs and summer camps.
“The education center got 6 feet of water,” she said. “It’s still destroyed. Basically it’s just a shell, which is a huge loss, not just financially for us because it served as a source of income, but especially for the community.”
Focus on the community, education and the history of League City, is important to Hughes.
“We have kids, young adults, teens who don’t even know what we have here,” she said. “They come in and see a rocking chair with a hole in it and think it’s a regular chair, then I have to tell them it’s an indoor (toilet). They ask how it was flushed. Then you see their brains start working. That’s part of why this museum is so important, and why it’s so wonderful to be open again.”
A visit to the museum makes kids “think about where we’ve been, because if you don’t know your past, you can’t really every understand your future,” she said.
For information on how to donate to the museum, a 501C3 organization, call 281-332-1393, or send an email to email@example.com.