Courtesy Jim Bechtol
Residents and city staff collecting relics for future museum or art installations
The history of Leander stretches back to around 1845, when early settlers were awarded land from the state for serving in the Texas Revolution. Memorabilia dating to the genesis of Leander is scattered among the city’s living preservers of history. City officials say they hope to collect historical relics, pictures and stories to one day display in a museum and art installations throughout town.
Dr. Frank Stiles, a fourth generation Leander resident and veterinarian, collects artifacts from Leander’s past. He said the handful of citizens who make up an informal historical commission are working to preserve memories of Leander.
“When you have grandparents and family around here telling you all of these stories, you get interested in it,” he said. “You start picking up on these things, and it makes you more connected to the area, makes you more connected to the people and makes you more connected to yourself.”
Inside his veterinary clinic, Stiles has photographs of Leander as it stood at the turn of the 20th century. He visits with clients in his office about the old days, swapping stories about the people who made Leander home. He said he hopes to continue collecting memorabilia, and in conjunction with city initiatives, put it on display.
“I would hope that what we leave them would be enough to work with. What we are waiting on basically is Christine Mason’s house to put it in there and then donate the money we have raised,” he said.
The Leander Public Arts Commission has considered ways to incorporate Leander’s history into art installations or a museum housed at the Mason Homestead, which now sits near the public library. Christine Mason, who died in 2008, donated the Mason Homestead to the city.
“The stipulation when we acquired the Mason Homestead was we would keep it as a historic museum or use it in some sort of historic type capacity,” said David Siebold, Place 6 councilman and arts commissioner.
The city has made repairs and improvements to the house, but it is not yet ready to host historic artifacts, he said.
“One idea is for it to be a museum, but there has not been a formal deadline set on what to do with it. There are so many projects that need to be done, and you have to prioritize them, and a lot of times it’s when the public demands those types of things,” he said.
Kirk Clennan, public arts commission liaison and economic development director, said he would like Leander residents to contribute to the city’s small but growing collection of historical artifacts. He said photos could be used in conjunction with the city’s Art in Public Places ordinance.
“We would like to have every flat surface in Leander covered in art, and we’d like to try and reinforce the history of Leander wherever we can,” he said. “Right now, the photos we have for the most part would be the ones hanging in the council chambers, which are very few. If we were to get more photos restored, get them framed and put them throughout municipal buildings, that’s one thing I suggest we do.”