Texas Historical Commission
San Felipe De Austin Visitor Center
San Felipe, TX
San Felipe de Austin is one of the most important historic sites in Texas. Stephen F. Austin founded the first Anglo colony in Texas on this site. San Felipe was second only to San Antonio as a commercial center in Texas in the early part of the 19th Century.
Its residents burned it to the ground to prevent its falling into the hands of Santa Ana in 1836. Given the significance of the site, the greatest challenge the Visitor Center faces is that the site and the visitor experience interpret artifacts and events long ago removed from the site and not immediately obvious to the casual observer.
The completed project comprises a new Visitor Center and Museum, a maintenance building and site infrastructure and site interpretive elements reveal the significance of the site and its relationship to the Texas story of independence. The experience includes a deliberate entry sequence that helps visitors transition from modern day to the past as they access the site.
The project’s design, which embraces Texas culture and responds to the local climate, is light on the land and visual landscape and integrates with the site.
The Visitor Center offers an orientation film and exhibits related to the site. Much of the visitor experience takes place outside the structure. A covered educational plaza includes a map of the city’s original design and serves as a gathering point. The site is also an active archaeological dig, with individual properties excavated as funding allows. A series of interpretive stations are located throughout the 95-acre site, allowing visitors to see periodic interpretations of this historic resource and active excavations at others.