By definition, heritage is something that is handed down from the past as a tradition or something that is acquired from a predecessor. More than 100 years ago, our predecessors planted roots in what is presently downtown Frisco, and since that foundation was laid so many years ago, the pride in our community remains steadfast. Those who settled Frisco knew nothing of the thriving and booming city it would become, but it is easy to conclude that they absolutely knew the amount of pride they had in their settlement would transcend history. That history is what our present-day “small town big city” cherishes, and the preservation and celebration of that history and heritage is vital to the past, present and future of our community.
The preservation and celebration of history and heritage are just what the Heritage Association of Frisco and the Frisco Heritage Center and Museum fervently serve to do while they each celebrate huge milestones and accomplishments this year. The Heritage Association of Frisco was formed in 1998 by citizens having lunch at La Hacienda Ranch. As they looked across Preston Road, they saw buildings from the 1800s community of Lebanon on the Shawnee Trail being bulldozed. The Heritage Association of Frisco volunteers organized, gathered artifacts and worked with the City to plan the museum. The Heritage Center published books, gathered oral histories of early residents, organized fundraising events, cataloged donated items, coordinated museum docent volunteers, created exhibits and started the Third Sunday Open House.
2018 serves as the twentieth anniversary of the Heritage Association of Frisco, as well as the tenth anniversary for the Heritage Center and Museum. The Heritage Center and Museum recently joined the ranks of other top museums in the metroplex after it was dubbed one of VisitDFW’s “Top History Museums to Experience Dallas/Fort Worth’s Deep Heritage.” (You can check it out at visitdfw.com).
Celebrating its twentieth year, the Heritage Association of Frisco serves the community and its rich history through preservation and research and sharing of that heritage. The Heritage Association recent past-president, Susanne Kerley, explains, “We do so in a way that honors the past, builds a bridge between generations and leaves a legacy for the future. The organization accomplishes this through programs and projects, scholarships and events that show and tell the story of Frisco and this area of Texas in a fascinating way through the stories of the people and the land.” The Heritage Association is personally special to Ms. Kerley, as it served as a means for she and her husband to be fully-immersed in Frisco’s history after moving into one of Frisco’s historic homes. She continues, “We joined the Heritage Association of Frisco and were welcomed into a group of wonderful people who love Frisco and want to share the stories of where it started and how it has grown.”
The Heritage Association was incorporated in the state of Texas as a nonprofit organization in 1998 and is run today by an all-volunteer staff. The current membership is composed of individuals, families and businesses. What truly makes it special is that the core of the organization represented in its founding year, 1998, represented the founding families of the community. “This milestone is a time to reflect on the goals accomplished during those years. The goals of the first years of the organization were to collect artifacts of Frisco’s first 100 years as a farming community and preserve them for future generations. The dream of a beautiful museum as a place to properly store and showcase these items came true in 2008, after citizens of Frisco passed a bond in 2002 that funded the building of the Frisco Heritage Museum and Heritage Center,” Ms. Kerley shares. “My personal favorite part of the activities that Heritage Association supports is to be a costumed docent at the museum and give tours to the Frisco ISD second-graders. To observe the children sitting in desks from the 1850s in the one-room schoolhouse, being immersed in their local history and heritage, is rewarding.”
Plans for the celebrations throughout 2018 include monthly special events and programs and family activities at the Heritage Center on the third Sunday afternoon of each month. Celebrations will kick off with a big 116th birthday party for Frisco on February 18. Additionally, blacksmiths will give demonstrations in Gaby’s Blacksmith shop monthly, the center will host special lectures by writers and experts and will feature new exhibits. Of the future of the organization, Ms. Kerley says, “The future of the Heritage Association is still being written by every person who lives in Frisco. Come and be a part of this exciting and interesting organization in the Frisco community. The Heritage Association of Frisco will be focusing on partnerships and collaborations with other Frisco organizations, events and businesses to become more vital in our vibrant Frisco community as we enter the next decade and continue the researching, preserving and sharing of Frisco’s rich heritage as has been done for the past two decades.”
The Heritage Center and Museum is a focal point in and for the community, as it serves as a vessel for visitors young and old. The honor of having been chosen one of Dallas/Fort Worth’s Top History Museums is a testament to the hard work staff and volunteers put into it.
Toyia Pointer serves as the Heritage Center and Museum coordinator and oversees operations, including scheduling volunteers and school tours (they host all of the FISD second-graders each year), coordinating all the maintenance and preservation projects for the historic artifacts and reproduction buildings on site. She also oversees the artifacts in the Heritage Museum’s collection. Ms. Pointer shares, “It was a nice surprise and an honor to be listed alongside high-profile history museums in the area that we have a lot of respect for. It is an acknowledgement of the quality of our exhibits here and we were proud and excited that the article would help spread the word to those who have not visited us yet. Hopefully, it inspired some to come and see us for themselves and learn about Frisco and North Texas’ rich history. Many people new to the area may not realize that Frisco is actually a community with a long history connected to the days of early settlements and cattle drives, and how the area we now know as Frisco transformed with the arrival of the railroad in 1902.”
VisitDFW tells readers that Frisco was once a train stop and shipping point for farmers at the turn of the 20th century, and describes the Frisco Heritage Museum as a place where visitors can see a steam locomotive, a wooden caboose and historic buildings such as a blacksmith shop, a church and a schoolhouse.
What makes the Heritage Center and Museum truly unique is all that it has to offer. Ms. Pointer explains, “We have a four-and-a-half-acre historical park with three historic buildings (the 1895 Crozier Sickles Home, the 1905 Smith Muse House and the 1904 Lebanon Baptist Church), along with the Heritage Museum and replica structures like our log cabin, calaboose (jail), Gaby’s blacksmith shop, the train depot and the one-room school house. Here, you can get an overview of what life was like in North Texas and how rapidly it has grown and continues to grow. Within our park, and especially on Third Sunday Open House days, when all the buildings are open for tours and demonstrations, visitors can get a sense of how Frisco would have looked and what it might have felt like.” Ms. Pointer also credits its uniqueness to the planning it took to make such a place a reality. “We are lucky to have the almost 18,000-square-foot Heritage Museum. Many similar historic parks have individual historical buildings to visit, but we also have space for museum exhibits that allow for Frisco’s history to be highlighted and explained narratively through text, graphics and art, in addition to artifacts on display. One unique thing is the large mural by artist Janet Hart that tells the story of Frisco through the history of the Shawnee Trail/Preston Trail and the arrival of the railroad. Another plus is Babe’s Chicken Dinner House on the park grounds!”
Saturday, May 5, will mark the celebration of the Heritage Center and Museum’s tenth birthday. It will be almost exactly 10 years from the day it opened to the public. The celebration will include a day full of activities and an open house for the community. More details will be released as the date draws nearer.
As the Heritage Association celebrates 20 years, and the Heritage Center and Museum celebrates 10 years and a news-worthy recognition, the efforts and collaboration of those from each organization are where credit lies. Of the celebrations to come, Ms. Pointer says she and everyone at the Heritage Center and Museum look forward to celebrating with the Heritage Association all year long! “We are thankful to the Heritage Association for their countless hours of volunteer work and local history research, combined with their foresight to have begun working with the City of Frisco more than 20 years ago to start preserving Frisco’s history for future generations of citizens and visitors. Because of those combined efforts, examples of Frisco’s architectural past have been preserved and recognized, along with family histories, artifacts and photographs. Those early and continued efforts of so many dedicated people are what make it so special.”
This year, we will say “happy birthday” to Frisco, the Heritage Association and the Heritage Center and Museum and celebrate the past, present and future of the very reasons we are able to call Frisco home. If you have not yet had the opportunity to visit the Heritage Center and Museum, it is located at 6455 Page Street. The museum is open Wednesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. (It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays). An individual annual membership is $15 and an annual family membership is $25. Members receive free admission to the museum, a 10 percent discount on Heritage items in the museum gift shop, invitations to special events and the opportunity to learn more about the community. Meetings with interesting speakers are held on the last Thursday of each month, at 7 p.m., in the museum theater. Quarterly lectures by local writers and historians and genealogy workshop schedules, along with membership information, can be found at friscoheritage.org.