The renovation of the Briscoe-Garner Museum in Uvalde hit a rough patch recently when a fire broke out in the historic home.
But repairs from the December 11 fire are taking place in tandem with the renovation work, and museum officials hope the hiccup won’t delay the planned re-opening of the museum this spring.
Nobody was injured in the fire, and because the exhibits are stored for renovation, no items or historical artifacts were damaged, said Ben Wright, spokesman for the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at UT Austin, which owns the museum.
The fire started when a heat gun was used near flammable materials. The fire department contained the fire quickly.
“We’re very hopeful that construction will be finished in March, and we will then install the exhibits and plan for a grand opening soon after,” Wright said. “In the near future there’s going to be a very fine museum here, a very effective public resource that tells the story of these two local figures.”
The $1.1 million renovation of the old Garner Museum began in January 2009. Much of the project has been related to improving the old structure, including foundation and asbestos-abatement work, Wright said. The museum is posting updates on its Facebook page.
Vice President John Nance “Cactus Jack” Garner lived in the home on North Park Street for more than 30 years. The museum first opened to the public in 1973 with exhibits focused on Garner’s life and career.
As part of the renovation, the second floor will be opened to the public for the first time, featuring exhibits related to Governor Dolph Briscoe.
“Governor Briscoe connects us with the narrative of the rest of our state, and Vice President Garner connects us with the national narrative,” Wright said. “It connects the local community in very special and meaningful ways with the state and national history.”
Be sure to check out the April issue of Texas Highways for a feature about visiting Uvalde.