Planning a Visit to Navasota and Barrington Living History Farm.
I rarely do anything spontaneously. If we decide to set off on a day trip, I’ll be certain to have a list of the day’s activities prepared. Once we’re exploring, it’s easy to delete or add things to the list but I never want to return home only to discover that we missed something special. I’ll research the most scenic routes and hope that we’ll drive through a stop-worthy town on the way. I’ll even reference a satellite map as I make my plan.
Planning our trip to the Barrington Living History Farm, I knew I wanted a circular route. Why see the same thing twice, when you can see something new? I also knew that Texas State Highway 105 west of Montgomery is incredibly scenic. When I saw that Navasota was on the way, and that it has a coffee shop that gets great reviews, the plan was ready.
Once we arrived in Navasota, we walked up and down Washington Avenue, having a look at the architecture and the stores before stopping at Classic Rock Coffee. We discovered a beautiful mural on the outside wall of the coffee shop that looks to be a visual ode to the community’s history of blues music. In Navasota, as in so many Texas towns, it was the arrival of the railroad that led to population growth, although the town never became very large. Today, the population numbers about 7,000.
After our enjoyable coffee break, we continued on to Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site, where you’ll find the Star of the Republic Museum and Independence Hall, in addition to Barrington Living History Farm.
Barrington Farm was once the home of Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas. He and his family lived in the farm house for about a decade between the mid 1840s to the mid 1850s. Although he was quite wealthy, the home is not large. The house sits on a small hill surrounded by a pastoral landscape. Looking out from the home’s front porch, it’s easy to imagine a life before the arrival of electricity and big cities, and to maybe romanticize that time period a little.
The house was built in the dogtrot style, meaning that two identical cabins were built side by side, with about 10 feet of separation between them. One roof was built to cover both cabins, the space between them, and a front porch area. As you stand in the breezeway, you feel the genius of the design. In the middle of a Texas summer, it would have been the place to be.
It wasn’t until we returned home that I realized the house was moved from its original site, a few miles away, to its current location in 1936. That was a little disappointing. The view from the porch, in other words, was never enjoyed by the Jones family. It’s surprising, when you consider the relatively short history of Texas, how much of the past has already been lost or altered. At least the farm house is original, although if you look at the pictures of it taken in 1936, it’s clear much work was done to return it to the way it was originally built.
Very little of Barrington Living History Farm is original, but the recreated buildings do give you a feel for the way a farm of that time operated. The house, barn, kitchen, smokehouse, henhouse and living quarters have much to teach visitors of all ages. Just to be able to stand on the porch and enjoy the landscape is reason enough to spend some time on the farm.