PIONEERS AND A PROHIBITIONIST
The six-square-block downtown Historic District is a testament to Richmond’s heritage. Walking-tour maps are available at the Fort Bend Museum, where exhibits trace area history from the Anglo-American colonial period through the plantation era, the Civil War, the ranching era, and the impact of the cotton and sugar industries on Fort Bend County’s economy. Admission to the museum includes docent-led tours of the 1840s Long-Smith Cottage and the 1905 Classical Revival-style Moore Home. The crown jewel of downtown is the 1908 Fort Bend County Courthouse, designed by architect C.H. Page in the “Texas Renaissance” style. The courthouse’s copper-domed roof above a soaring rotunda can be seen for miles. Another architectural treasure is the 1887 former county jail, which now serves the Richmond Police Department. The building is located in Decker Park, as are a 1901 railroad depot and the 1850s McNabb House.
Established along the Brazos River southwest of Houston, Richmond was settled in 1822 by members of Stephen F. Austin’s colony. The town was platted in 1837 and became the seat of Fort Bend County a year later. Cotton, cattle and a rail line brought prosperity to the community. Colorful historical characters once called Richmond home, and for some, the town also is their final resting place: Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas and a published poet; Jane Long, the tenacious “Mother of Texas;” and Erastus “Deaf” Smith, Texas Revolutionary War soldier, spy and scout. Temperance advocate Carry Nation operated a hotel here in the 1880s before her hatchet-wielding days in support of alcohol prohibition.
South of Richmond, the 480-acre George Ranch Historical Park hosts year-around living history programs at an 1830s farmstead, an 1890s Victorian mansion and a 1930s working ranch. Texian Market Days, held here each October, celebrates heritage and history through folk life demonstrations, re-enactments and historic homes tours.