Courtesy City of Tomball
Tomball Museum CenterThe former office of Dr. William Ehrhart showcases early 20th century medical equipment and instruments.
Located a few blocks north of Main Street, the Tomball Museum Center preserves local history in nearly a dozen historical buildings. From the log house and one-room school to the old barn and church, the museum displays architecture and exhibits from the area’s past.
“It’s the best-kept secret in northern Harris County,” said Mary Lu Wiley, a retired educator and volunteer docent at the museum for nearly 30 years.
When curator Jean Alexander began serving the museum center 20 years ago, the complex had four major structures. Now, ten major buildings are available most of the year for formal tours. Three of the buildings are homes that feature different levels of living.
A split log cabin shows the living space of poorer rural settlers in East Texas. A middle-class farmhouse, surrounded by a white picket fence, was donated by descendants of the Henry Theis family. The Griffin Memorial House was built by a prominent early Texas lumberman; its 19th century furnishings represent the life of the area’s upper crust in the days before Tomball existed.
A barn houses a horse-powered cotton gin from Old Town Spring that was built in 1877. According to Wiley, the gin is one of only two of its kind left in the state. A cotton baler, which compresses cotton into 500-pound bales, and a horse-drawn mower and earthmover, are also on display. Another exhibit at the barn features the evolution of laundry from the time of the earliest settlers.
A one-room schoolhouse, originally located near Bellville, shows what the region’s educational facilities were like in the early 20th century. A slate blackboard and 48-star flag are two of the curiosities inside.
Another building on-site is the historic Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, which dates from 1905 and occasionally holds services conducted in German and English. The building is also available for rental for wedding ceremonies.
The original Tomball Jail, which opened in 1907, was rebuilt on the premises. In 1998, the museum complex acquired an oil camp house, which housed workers at the Humble Oil Company in Tomball from the 1930s to 1950s. Another building, formerly the office of Dr. William Ehrhardt—who practiced at FM 1960 and Kuykendahl Road—showcases early 20th century medical equipment and instruments.
“Some folks will say to me ‘You don’t realize what a treasure you have here,’” Wiley said. “Well, some of us do.”
For about 40 years, the Tomball Museum Center has held Candlelight Tours, which showcase the complexes’ 10 buildings in Christmas lights and decorations. This year’s event will be held Dec. 9 and 10 from 6–9 p.m.
- “It is a good way to get in the mood for the season,” said museum curator Jean Alexander. “It is our Christmas card for the community.”
- Each building will have a host or hostess available. Entertainment includes choirs performing in the old church, a western band and Santa Claus in the barn
- Cookies, wassail and other holiday refreshments will be served
- Admission is free, but donations of any amount are welcome. A raffle will be held to raise money for the museum center
Museum Center, 510 North Pine Street Tomball, 281-255-2148