If Dr. Rob Meaux has his way, a year from now, Lake Houston residents won’t believe their eyes.
Just a couple of blocks from Historic Downtown Humble, they’ll find a refurbished and revitalized Humble Museum, nestled next to the Charles Bender Performing Arts Center, the former Charles Bender High School.
And, if Meaux is true to his word, this museum won’t just be a collection of old stuff.
“This Humble Museum will be very different from what it was on Main Street,” Meaux said. “Dr. Chris Davis and I have been plotting out how the displays will look.”
Davis is a professor of history at Lone Star College-Kingwood. Meaux has served many roles at Humble ISD and now is a computer programmer in the district’s Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment division. Both are board members of the Humble Museum.
“Our vision,” said Meaux, “is to rebuild it into a modern museum that tells the story of Lake Houston. People will be able to relive those memories and those experiences.”
The transformation of the Humble Museum really began a few years ago when Meaux, who holds six college degrees, including two master’s and a doctorate, began working on a book detailing the history of his parents, both natives of Humble and graduates of Charles Bender High School. Eventually, he put the book about his parents on hold as he dove into researching the history of the school district. Researching the district led him to researching the history of Humble.
“My research of Humble ISD turned out to be very different from anything people had written before,” he said. “Instead of relying on personal recollections, I researched in the county and state archives to look for verifiable facts.”
Meaux found the same problem with the history of Humble.
“There wasn’t a consistent story. I was able to establish facts, refute others and discover history of the area that no one seemed to know about,” he said.
All that research led Meaux to the Humble Museum where he spent hours “… poring through their documents and photos and even correcting some of their accounts.”
Meaux was a natural choice when a museum board opening occurred, coincidentally at the same time his history of Humble book was published.
The Humble Museum was created in 1976 as part of Humble’s Bicentennial Celebration, located first in a tiny brick building next to the Lake Houston Chamber and eventually to the more-familiar building on Main Street.
The museum closed after Hurricane Harvey damaged the building, giving Meaux, Davis and the rest of the museum board the opportunity to partner with the City of Humble to rebuild it and create something amazing.
“The City of Humble has been our biggest benefactor. We couldn’t ask for a better community partner,” said Meaux. “They are covering the cost of the architect and the renovation of the old band hall next to what is now the Charles Bender Performing Arts Center.”
Meaux and his team visited lots of Texas museums, focusing on the different display set ups of early Texas history. A basic floor plan is sketched out but is still in the design phase.
“The display space will be a little bigger and the layout will be much better,” he said. “We have so many good things to display. A letter written by Sam Houston asking someone to make him a knife. Some local people then created that knife for us. We have a great newspaper collection, too.”
Also included will be the research uncovered about Joseph Dunman, a Liberty, Texas farmer who played an essential role in the creation of the Republic and in developing what is now Humble and Lake Houston, years before Pleasant Humble arrived.
“We’ll have these same artifacts, but their presentation will look more professional and tell a better story of Humble and Lake Houston,” Meaux said.
The new building will have a bigger office and work space, much nicer restrooms and a kitchen area that can be used when events are held.
“We’ll have a good-sized research room for our newspaper, yearbook and other material collection,” Meaux said. “Researchers will find it easier to go through the rich documents we have.”
For the transformation of the museum to be successful, the board is counting on the generosity of the city and the community.
“To rebuild all of the displays, we’ll use up just about all of our savings,” Meaux said. “I’m looking for businesses and community members to help establish a foundation that will cover the cost of redesigning the displays and handle future fundraising events.”