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Burnet County Historical Commission to help run old jail/museum

Burnet County Tourism Director Blair Manning (standing) at a Burnet County Historical Commission meeting in the Old Burnet County Jail and Museum, 109 S. Pierce St. in Burnet. The commission voted to partner with Burnet County Tourism to help operate the jail as a museum. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman

The Burnet County Historical Commission is going to jail—well, not THAT jail. Commission members on June 4 agreed to partner with the county in operating the Old Historic Jail on the courthouse square in downtown Burnet. 

The commission will take over recruiting, training, and scheduling volunteers and docents to more consistently keep the jail open to the public for tours. It will also store and sell its history books from the former lockup at 109 S. Pierce St.

“We are asking to partner with the (Burnet County Historical Commission) to help with our volunteer base so we can be open on a more regular basis,” Burnet County Tourism Director Blair Manning said at the Tuesday commission meeting.

Manning has been working out of the jail but can’t always be on site or available for tours, she said.

“The jail has been under my umbrella, and I’m only one person,” she continued. “I need your help.” 

The 140-year-old jail opened as a visitor center and museum in 2022 after undergoing extension renovations. It housed inmates until 1982. The renovation was funded by hotel occupancy taxes, which are charged to visitors renting temporary lodging in the county.

The proposed partnership is slated to begin July 1 and was unanimously approved at the Tuesday meeting, which was held in a third-floor room at the jail. Since the building is not ADA-compliant past the ground floor, the commission will most likely continue to hold its monthly meetings in the Herman Brown Free Library one block away. 

However, the July 2 meeting will be held at The Falls on the Colorado Museum, 2001 Broadway in Marble Falls, as part of a plan to make the historical group more accessible to other parts of Burnet County. 

“We are part of county government, and we represent history in the entire county,” BCHC Chair Rachel Bryson said during a discussion of future meeting places.

Meetings are held at 1 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. 

suzanne@thepicayune.com

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