By CATHY MOUNCE, Register Staff Writer
An extensive collection of Medal of Honor memorabilia will have a home in Gainesville when the new 1,600 square foot Medal of Honor Museum opens on East California Street.
The new museum is set to occupy the former Tyler & Simpson building near the Santa Fe Depot.
The structure — which also once housed an antique market — is one of the oldest buildings in Cooke County.
Plans to renovate the historic building are currently underway and details and renderings should soon be available, building owner Randy Jones said.
Museum architect Johnny Robertson of Denton is working on the design that will be a showcase for Medal of Honor memorabilia.
Robertson is known as a specialist in museum architecture and knows what is required to provide the best setting, lighting and interactive electronics in order to provide visitors with an extraordinary experience.
“The Tyler & Simpson building was originally built circa 1889 and despite the passing of time is in remarkable shape,” Jones said. “We are delighted to be able to develop this project for the city of Gainesville and Medal of Honor recipients across the United States and beyond. Some of the original windows have been discovered beneath the sheetrock and we hope to restore the building to its original design.”
A portion of the 6,000 square foot building will also house cultural exhibits of historical significance in Cooke County and the North Texas area.
Cooke County Moving will occupy some of the main floor space on the south end of the building.
Morton Museum of Cooke County director Jayleane Smith said a rendering of the Tyler & Simpson building is being created by the Texas Historical Society in Austin.
Photographs of the original building have been forwarded to Austin to help with the process.
“Under the direction of the Gainesville Historical society, Gainesville will now be the home of three world class museums,” Smith said. “The new museum will join the Morton Museum and the Santa Fe Depot Museum to offer visitors to Gainesville a wide range of historical significance.”
Restoring Gainesville’s historic buildings has been a dream for many residents for many years.
“Three noted Gainesville residents had remarkable vision in the 1960s to keep and restore buildings of historical significance,” Smith said. “Mary McCain, Johnanne Bezner and former Mayor Margaret Parx Hays all shared this goal. Many historical buildings including the Morton Museum were saved from demolition thanks to their efforts.”
Establishing a museum for MOH memorabilia is a logical step for the city. Gainesville already has ties to many MOH recipients through its Medal of Honor Host City organization which, each April, welcomes a group of recipients for community events in Gainesville and the Cooke County area.
Funding assistance for the MOH museum project is still under consideration by the city.
Once designs have been received, renovation costs will be finalized, Smith noted.