By Roger Croteau
SAN MARCOS — City officials broke ground Thursday on a new museum dedicated to examining Lyndon Baines Johnson’s college years.
“ Oh, how much my father loved your town,” said the former president’s daughter, Luci Baines Johnson.
Those of you who knew my father well will remember his frequent admonition about Central Texas: It was a place where people knew when you were sick and cared when you died.
“ It would please my father so much to know this place he loved so much has not forgotten him,” she told the crowd at the ceremony.
Johnson attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College — now Texas State University-San Marcos — from 1927 to 1930. The LBJ Museum in downtown San Marcos will focus on those years, plus the year he spent teaching in Cotulla after graduation.
With the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin and the state and national LBJ parks in Johnson City, the new museum will help complete the picture of Johnson, said Leslie Starr Hart, superintendent of the LBJ National Historic Park.
“ This will tell a completely different side of his story,” she said. “Here in San Marcos is where he learned about public service.”
City officials hope the museum will draw tourists to the Square when it opens to the public next year. Organizers already have raised more than $220,000 and have more than $200,000 more in pledges and grants lined up, said Ed Mihalkanin, president of the LBJ Museum board of directors.
The idea for the museum was born in 1997, when a blue ribbon committee set up by the mayor to develop tourism pitched the idea. Hays County agreed to rent a downtown building to the museum for $1 a year.
Already, organizers have completed asbestos abatement, demolished the building’s interior and renovated the outside.
Phase II of the project began Thursday and is to include construction of the exhibit area, gift shop and lobby. Later, the building’s second floor is to be rebuilt to expand the facility