The Freeport Historical Museum is the realization of Nat Hickey’s obsession with collecting the history of Freeport, Texas and the Brazosport area. With the help and collaboration from many local organizations—including Freeport LNG—a home for his collection has been coming together on East Park Street in downtown Freeport.
Nat Hickey, who was born in Freeport in 1923 had an interest in history from an early age. After serving in the Army during World War II, his first collection was built from his personal military memorabilia. He married his wife, Rosemary, and they became regular beach combers, often turning up ancient Indian flint knives and spears. Added to his growing collection were old books and newspapers noting the history of Brazosport. "Well, I'm more or less the unofficial historian of the area here," remarks Hickey. "I have put together a small publication that goes back to 1528 of things that have happened around Freeport."
I'm more or less the unofficial historian of the area here."
N. C. "Nat" Hickey
Founder, Freeport Historical Museum
The idea of a Freeport history museum started with meetings of a Texas "Main Street" committee in the downtown building that formerly housed the FACTS newspaper. The committee’s initial goal was to discuss the redevelopment of downtown Freeport, but Mr. Hickey would often bring old photos he had collected of people important to Freeport's history. Then committee members began to contribute items, and eventually the meeting area grew too small for their display, which also shared storage for other former tenants: Intermedics and the Freeport Police
Department. The group decided they needed more room for their artifacts. They bought the building next door, and when that filled up, the building next to that. Heritage houseEventually they added the two-story Masonic Lodge building on the corner of East Park and East Broad Street which they renovated and now rent out as a meeting and event space called the Heritage House. The recent purchase of a building across Park Avenue, where a gift shop and a restaurant have moved in, also add proceeds that go to help support the Freeport Historical Museum.
Today the museum consists of a series of one- story buildings along East Park that house the organization's offices, the museum itself including a gift shop, movie theater, and children's museum. An art gallery/special exhibit space and museum archives are also part of the complex. The museum’s permanent collections include Mr. Hickey's extensive WWII memorabilia, artifacts from local industries through history, an exhibit of art and artifacts from the area's maritime history, models of some of the original buildings of Freeport, and a mechanical model of the old Brazos River swing bridge—to name just a few.
Children's Exhibits at the Freeport Historical Museum
Mother Goose Exhibit
T-Rex greets a Museum visitor.
Model of old Velasco Swing Bridge
Getting ready to enjoy the show at the Freeport Historical Museum Movie Theater
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Some of the special exhibits that the Museum has mounted include a dinosaur exhibit (including a large animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex), shark exhibit, International Celebration, the Oval Office, and a Mother Goose exhibit. The museum is also involved in organizing and coordinating downtown events such as the annual summer KidFest. "Donations like those that we get from Freeport LNG are key to our success," observes LeAnn Strahan, Museum Supervisor.
"They are our signature sponsor for KidFest this year, and are generally signature sponsors for all of our large events. We couldn't do it without Freeport LNG."
Even though he is now 95, Mr. Hickey still shows great enthusiasm for each new exhibit. With a mind still sharp and an undimmed desire to save every bit of history that comes his way, Nat Hickey comes to the museum every day. He wouldn't want it any other way. There's just too much joy in sharing history with the community he loves.