During the 1980s, the Hidalgo County Historical Museum purchased properties including the former Doane Hotel to the north in 1982 and the former H-E-B Building to the east in 1988. The Doane Site became the main driveway into the new museum’s parking lot. The old H-E-B served as an annex building for new exhibitions, staff offices, and collection storage.

In 1981, Dolia Gonzalez of Edinburg (pictured above second to right), mother of Marine Sgt. Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez (known as “Freddy”), donated her son’s dress uniform and Congressional Medal of Honor to the museum for exhibition. 

Other notable exhibits from this era featured artwork from Mexican artist Manuel Lepe and borderlands artist José Cisneros. The museum also published works such as the Heritage Cookbook, Wild Horse Desert (pictured above on left is HCHM’s Executive Director Brian Robertson and Al Ramírez, former Edinburg Mayor; both are reading Wild Horse Desert), and Rio Grande Valley: A Pictorial History. The last two publications were written by Brian Robertson who would become the museum’s Executive Director from 1986 to 1989 when Shan Rankin stepped into the position.

Presidents of the Board:

1980 Margaret M. Looney; 1981-1982 Helen Evans; 1983 James A. McAllen; 1984 Foss Jones; 1985 Zeb Rike; 1986 Celine Cozad; 1987 Mary Katherine Alonso; 1988 John Kreidler; 1989 Kevin Yancy.

Members of the HCHM Guild pieced together a quilt of brands from South Texas ranches. The quilt was designed by Guild member Alice Keller and was auctioned off at the 1981 Heritage Round-Up fundraising event. The women of the HCHM Guild played a pivotal role in raising funds to fuel the Museum’s growth before disbanding in the late 1980s.
1980 Heritage Round-Up at the Tip-O-Texas RV Resort. Several Winter Texans who lived at the Tip-O-Texas RV Resort were regular volunteers at the Hidalgo County Historical Museum.
Fran Alger, Tom Fort, and Guild member Celine M. Cozad holding a sign for the 1981 Heritage Round-Up.
1982 Heritage Round-Up: A drawing was held for a Ford Escort donated in part by William Yoder. Also in the picture are Virginia Meyer and Heritage Round-Up Chairman Ray Schaleben.
McAllen gunsmith and historical reenactor Mike Whalen kneeling with a rifle. 1980s.
Staff photo from 1986. From left to right: Brian Robertson, Sally Cadena, Fran Alger, Maria Garza, Bennie Calvillo, Omar Cruz, and Tom Fort.
Museum docent Lois Hemple leading a group of students on a school tour. Late 1980s.
Unidentified docent leading a school tour in the hanging tower. Late 1980s.
Fourth Executive Director of the Hidalgo County Historical Museum, Brian Robertson with guitar. Mid to late 1980s.
Fifth Executive Director of the Hidalgo County Historical Museum, Shan Rankin in her office. 1989.
Museum display for Edinburg native and Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Alfredo “Freddy” C. Gonzalez, USMC. His Medal, dress uniform, and other items were donated to the Museum by his mother, Dolia Gonzalez, in the early 80s. Freddy Gonzalez was killed in action during the battle for Hue City in South Vietnam in February, 1968. Photo taken in the 1990s.

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.