DAYS OF OLD TIME ROSES
Since 1984, visitors to Independence have followed the sweet scent of romance to the Antique Rose Emporium, an eight-acre garden wonderland. This is no ordinary nursery, but one that specializes in older classes of hardy roses, many brought to South Central Texas by early settlers. The centerpiece of the emporium is the restored stone kitchen of a pioneer homestead.
But tiny Independence surprises in other ways: Stop at the Visitor Center in the restored 1835 “Adobe House,” and you’ll discover that Independence was the wealthiest community in the Republic of Texas, and a religious and education center. Originally called Coles’ Settlement for John P. Coles, one of Stephen F. Austin’s Old Three Hundred colonists, Independence chose a more inspired name in 1836 when Texas won its freedom from Mexico. A decade later, the town became home to the Baptist-affiliated forerunners of Baylor University, chartered in 1845, and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. The schools moved to Waco and Belton, respectively, in the 1880s, but their history is commemorated at Old Baylor Park. Here, four tall brick columns from the original university building lend an iconic image to the community.