Tyler’s heritage is on full display at Tyler’s three plantation museums, where the Old South comes to life through historic furniture, artifacts, and photos. This lifestyle, typically associated with the Deep South, wasn’t prevalent in most of Texas, so it’s worth dropping by one of these sites just to get a feel for the ornate homes and luxurious grounds. If you’re lucky, the docents and tour guides may even be dressed in period costume.
The Goodman Museum
The Goodman Museum (624 N. Broadway Ave., 903/531-1286, www.cityoftyler.org, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Sat., free) was the home of Dr. W. J. Goodman, a local doctor and Civil War surgeon for 72 years (1866–1938). Originally built in 1859, the house is Tyler’s first property to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum features original furnishings, including hand-carved tables and chairs, a grandfather clock from the colonial era, surgical tools and medical cases, and fine silver and china. It’s open for walk-in tours.
Just as impressive is the 1854 Dewberry Plantation (14007 FM 346 West, 903/825-9000, www.dewberryplantation.com, open daily, tours are $8 adults, $7 seniors, $5 children 6–18). The plantation site served as a campground for the officers of the Army of Republic of Texas prior to their final battle with the Cherokee Indians. The home, billed as the only original two-story, pre–Civil War house still standing in Smith County, was built for War of 1812 hero Col. John Dewberry, who moved to the Tyler area in 1835.
Also noteworthy is the grand 1878 McClendon House (806 W. Houston St., 903/592-3533, www.mcclendonhouse.net, open daily, tours $7 per person). Once a hub for Tyler’s eloquent Victorian society, the home was eventually purchased by the McClendon family, whose youngest daughter Sarah became a noted Washington, D.C., journalist with a presidential-coverage career spanning from Franklin Roosevelt to George W. Bush. The home is now primarily used as a wedding and events site.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition