LIVE OAKS AND LONGHORNS
Stroll the leafy streets of downtown League City and you’ll find tearooms, gift shops and antiques stores occupying early-20th Century commercial buildings; a one-room schoolhouse museum, and historic residences that host tours each December. Visit this historic district after you’ve toured NASA’s Johnson Space Center, just minutes away, and you’ll feel like a time traveler bouncing from the great beyond back to the Victorian era.
True, League City has modern sports facilities and the third-largest concentration of pleasure boats in the U.S., but there’s an abundance of genteel history and lasting legacies here as well. Located on the south shore of Clear Lake, an inlet of Galveston Bay, the town was platted in 1890 by Galveston entrepreneur J.C. League, who set aside land for churches, a school and a park. In 1907, League partnered with the pioneer Butler ranching family to acquire Live Oak trees from their native Louisiana. The Butlers supervised the planting of these trees around League City, and the surviving “Butler Oaks” still shade downtown streets and League Park. A gathering place for the community since 1895, the park hosted political rallies, medicine shows, revivals, ice cream socials and summer band concerts. Today it’s the venue for a December festival and parades celebrating the holiday season. Three bandstands have been the focal point of the park. The original was rebuilt after the hurricane of 1900, and replaced in 1976 for the U.S. Bicentennial.
If the park and the bandstand are pure Americana, the Butler Longhorn Museum, in an adaptively reused historic home, is pure Texana. Located on 10 acres along the waterfront in the historic district, the museum tells the story of the late Milby Butler, and his role in saving Texas Longhorn cattle from extinction. The 8,000-square foot, three-story, facility documents the seven bloodlines of Longhorn cattle with art, history and science exhibits.