In 1964, the state of Texas launched several local and county programs to preserve regional history. As a part of this effort, citizens of Hidalgo County met in a café near the Hidalgo County Courthouse and began the search for a historic building to tell Hidalgo County’s story. The following year the City of Edinburg, with the support of Hidalgo County, offered the oldest surviving building in Edinburg, the 1910 Hidalgo County Jail, as a site for a county historical museum.
The 1910 Jail was vacant and falling into disrepair, but the group began to restore the building with support from community volunteers. In 1967, the Texas Historical Commission designated the Jail as a Texas Historic Landmark and added an official historical medallion to the building. The following year the Museum officially received a charter as a non-profit organization. Though not open to the public yet, the Museum began accepting artifacts and building a collection.

The 1910 Jail in disrepair, late 1960s.

In 1967, by candlelight, the Hidalgo County Historical Survey Committee held its first meeting in the 1910 Jail.
1968 article from The Monitor shows a picture of the Edinburg Key Club cleaning roof tiles at the 1910 Jail. From the early days of the Museum, volunteers played a major role in making the dream of the Museum a reality.

On the morning of Friday, January 17, 1969, Committee chairman Darrell Brumley received $1,000 checks from supporters of Jail renovation. Pictured from left to right: Darrell Brumley, Mrs. and Mr. Shelley Collier, Reynaldo Vela, Mrs. and Judge Looney, and Margaret H. McAllen.

Museum co-founder Jimmy McAllen during opening day on April 19, 1970.

To view more “Golden Memories,” please visit here.

Photographs: Margaret H. McAllen Memorial Archives

Exhibit: Archivist Kelly Francis-Love; Archival Assistant Luna Galván; Archival Assistant Susie Mathews; Associate Education Officer Joseph Fox; Senior Historian Tom Fort; Development Officer Lynne Beeching; Chief Executive Officer Francisco Guajardo, Ph. D.; Programs and Events Officer René Ballesteros; Programs and Events Assistant Anna Garrigos-Hervert

Contributors: Communications Officer Pamela Morales de Hendricks, Communications Assistant Santiago Alanís, Communications Assistant José Antonio Peña, Cindy Us, Rachel Amaya, Adel Hussein, and Mark Trejo

Thanks to our Golden Partner, and first Corporate Donor, for generously supporting our 50th anniversary.