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Tucked away in the 20-acre Sam Houston Park downtown, you will find an impressive bit of Texas history. Visit the Heritage Society Museum & Tour, which features historical records, then take the outdoor tour of noble buildings restored to their original glory. Pathways lead to an assortment of prestigious homes in Greek and Victorian styles. The 1868 Victorian-style Pilot House also happens to be the site of the city's first indoor kitchen. All the homes on the tour are unique in structure and furnishings. There is also a quaint church built in 1891 by German farmers.
It is said that the Cheyenne respectfully named the African American soldiers that they fought against in the Indian Wars (1866-1891) "Buffalo Soldiers" for their ferocity in battle. While the first official army units were not formed until 1866, African Americans have fought in every major American war since the Revolutionary War in the late 1700s. Visit this museum to learn about the men and women who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. They have a fine collection of well-preserved photos, uniforms and other memorabilia and artifacts.
Within walking distance of the METRORail between the Wheeler and Hermann Hospital/Houston Zoo stops lies the highest concentration of galleries, museums, and art spaces in Houston. Besides the usual suspects - the Zoo, Fine Arts, Natural Science, Contemporary Arts, and Children's Museum - there is also the fascinating Health, Holocaust, Buffalo Soldiers National, and John C. Weather Museums to explore. Don’t miss Lawndale Art Center, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft or the Jung Center. A little farther off the beaten path (just up Montrose Boulevard on the other side of US59), are the famed Menil Collection, Rothko and Byzantine Fresco Chapels, and Houston Center for Photography. Stop for a meal at any of the fine eateries along Montrose Boulevard. Check the site for events and free times.
Those who appreciate the European decorative arts will eventually find their way to this mansion in the River Oaks district. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and tall trees on five acres (2.02 hectares), the mansion is elegantly furnished in the Italian, English and Roman styles. Although the estate is now part of the Museum of Fine Arts, it was originally owned by the local Masterson family who hired architect John F. Staub in the 1950s to design a modern version of an Italian country estate. The exhibits at this museum range from 17th and mid-19th Century artifacts that were originally part of the Mastersons' enviable art collection. Admittance is by reservation only. Call to schedule a guided, peaceful tour through a contemporary palace.
Bayou Bend is the former home of Ima Hogg, a famous philanthropist. Visitors can wander through 14 acres of woodlands and formal gardens, or check out the house that contains 4,800 various works of art. This art represents the American style from colonial to mid-19th Century. The house is a lovely lifestyle museum of that century. Please take note that children under ten years of age can wander the gardens but are not allowed in the house.