Open House at the Heritage Museum

The Frisco Heritage Museum, while technically considered a park, is a place that shows visitors the ins and outs pertaining to Frisco’s lengthy, rich, unique history. Its mission is to collect, preserve, study, interpret, exhibit and stimulate appreciation for and knowledge of the history and culture of Frisco and the North Texas region. If you do not know the story of Frisco’s beginning and subsequent rise to being one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., this spectacular museum stands as a wonderful resource. Every third Sunday, the Heritage Association of Frisco hosts an Open House event, free to the public. With live entertainment, crafts, games, animals, working blacksmiths and docent-guided tours of the historic buildings, this is a wonderful event that is fun for the whole family.

My family showed up, ready to explore, right around 1 p.m., hoping to avoid a potential crowd. My six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son immediately gravitated toward the animals in front of one of the historic homes. They were so excited to pet baby ducks, chicks, the pig, a goat and a sheep. It was a bit hectic, as every other kid was just as excited to see the animals, so it got a little crowded. The parents and volunteers did a good job helping kids be gentle with the animals and made sure they took turns. I know what you other moms are thinking, and, yes, hand sanitizer was available to clean little hands when it was time to check out another activity.

From there, we had to see Peter Cottontail, who was available to take pictures and wish the kids a happy Easter. He handed out candy to kids who came up to see him and was very sweet and patient with everyone. I also must commend the volunteer who dressed up in the costume, because it was a warm day. 

Once the kids had their fill of sugar, we wandered over to see the working blacksmiths. My son was fascinated. It was so interesting to see people working in a trade that has been around for centuries.

After that, we were getting a little warm, so it was the perfect time to explore the arts and crafts available in the large depot area. We were thrilled to discover volunteers teaching the kids how to play bingo, where, instead of numbers, they were looking for different flowers that grow in the Frisco area. This mom always appreciates when a game is both fun and educational!

The kids were also able to make their own bunny crafts, as well as color in a coloring book about the Heritage Association. Whatever they did not finish, they got to take home, and both of my kids have gone back to the coloring books to keep working on them. The craft project bunnies are proudly hanging on our refrigerator. The young ladies who helped the kids work on everything were very sweet and took time to ask questions and make the kids feel important. These kind women went above and beyond to connect with the kids I saw.

When it came time to tour the historic homes and buildings, the kids were less than excited until they realized there were people at several of them telling stories about the history. In the home built in the 1880s, a very nice gentleman explained there was something special about the staircase. The seventh pillar up was upside down, and he explained that many Irish immigrants during that time believed this practice would keep evil spirits from crossing that line, protecting the homeowners while they slept. He also explained it meant someone who lived in the house once believed it was haunted. The kids were mesmerized by his story. The drawing room, kitchen (complete with a real ice box) and dining areas were also available to explore.

We then ventured over to the church. The kids enjoyed running through the pews as Mom and Dad took a short break from chasing them. We all checked out the old piano as well as the pulpit and I, personally, was taken aback by how small it seemed compared to many churches these days. Just imagine how simple and perfect it must have been to walk to church on Sundays, listen to a sermon and then spend the rest of the day working on a farm getting ready for the week.

The final historic building we visited was the school house. The kids loved sitting in the desks, while a very kind woman explained that the holes in the desks were to hold pots of ink so students could dip their pens to write. This, of course, baffled them since they are used to pens and markers where everything is contained within. The speaker entertained parents by telling the kids about the water bucket used to provide water for everyone in the school. Back then, if kids were thirsty, they would go over to the bucket, grab the ladle, take a drink and put it back for the next person. My daughter grimaced because she has been learning in school how germs spread and why it is important to wash your hands. 

I enjoyed hearing our guide tell of schools that were built on donated farm land back in those days, that children ages six to sixteen would attend. The best part for me, however, was getting to see a nice collection of old school textbooks. They were behind glass, so it was only the outside of the books, but it made my mind wonder what arithmetic looked like in the 1890s, or how they discussed Shakespeare or what the practical application of calculus was at that time. I was a kid in a candy store for a little while.

No trip to the Heritage Museum is complete without stopping by the replica jail. What parent does not need to remind their kids (jokingly) that they need to behave or they might end up in that concrete block? Being able to read about how the jail was primarily used to help the occasional person sober up after a wild weekend night amused us, but it also reminded us that Frisco is an amazing place to live. Not only was crime back in the day largely nonexistent, but that tradition has carried on to the present.

As a friendly side note, and as all parents know, no outing is complete without a panicked run to the restroom with one of the kids. Happily, the restrooms are just inside the museum. We made it with no accidents because they are centrally located to all the buildings outside. 

Before we left the fun, we enjoyed checking out the covered wagon inside, complete with pots and pans settlers would have carried to survive their journey. The bonus was realizing there were different animal noises coming from speakers and letting the kids guess what animal made each sound. Then, we browsed through the gift shop where my son found a miniature train and my daughter gravitated toward a little beanbag turtle. We made it out of the day with a total of only $15 spent — a very reasonable price for an hour and a half of fun (and technically, we could have spent nothing).

I have lived in Frisco for almost nine years and never taken the time to visit the Heritage Museum’s Third Sunday Open House event. After finally going, I realize what a mistake that has been. It is educational, fun for adults and kids and the activities change from month to month, so it is worthwhile to go whenever you can. And, that is exactly what I plan on doing. Do not miss out on this local treasure, which takes place on the third Sunday of every month (except June), from 1-4 p.m. You can learn more or plan your family’s outing with the community at www.friscoheritage.org.

Christi Redfearn is a wife, mom and Aggie in search of that perfect lap time in her weekend race car.