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Dec. 18, 2009

Renovations bring LBJ state park’s Sauer-Beckmann Farmstead to life

40th annual Christmas tree lighting festivities this Sunday

STONEWALL, Texas — In 1869, German immigrants Johann and Christine Sauer settled on a tract of land in Gillespie County, between Fredericksburg and Johnson City, with their four children. The Sauer family, which grew to include 10 children, built a homestead around their working farm. Their homestead originally grew up around log cabins, but as they became more prosperous, the Sauers erected buildings of native limestone.

In 1900, they sold their property to Emil and Emma Beckmann, who improved the property further. By 1915, they had built and moved into a stylish, Victorian frame home. Across the Pedernales River from the farm lived the family of state Rep. Sam Ealy Johnson, Jr. In 1908, it was one of the Sauer children, Augusta Sauer Lindig, who delivered the Johnson’s first child, Lyndon, who would one day become president of the United States.

Thanks to a recent $128,000 renovation, visitors to Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site near Stonewall this holiday season can see what the original log cabins, some of which date to 1869, and the 1915 Victorian-style house would have looked like when they were new. Renovations include updates to roofs, porches and a fresh coast of paint. The floors of the Beckmann’s Victorian-style house have been refinished, the wood exterior, roof and the porch of the house repaired and painted and the foundation stabilized. Additionally, the work crews painted the home’s interior, refurbished the windows, and repaired screen doors and shutters.

As an added bonus this holiday season, the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm displays its holiday cheer with glowing kerosene lanterns, traditional German candlelit Christmas tree and freshly baked German Christmas cookies for visitors. Highlighting the park’s holiday season at 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 20 is the 40th annual Christmas tree lighting begun by the Johnsons in 1970, complete with carolers, a live nativity and visit by Santa Claus. The lighting will take place on Sunday, Dec. 20 at 6:00 p.m. At 5 p.m. just prior to the lighting, a headstone will be placed on the gravesite of the late Lady Bird.

No matter the time of year, visitors to the living history farm can see park interpreters in period clothing doing the farm chores that the farm family would have done around 1918-feeding, milking, gathering eggs, slopping the hogs, cleaning the house, cooking meals, churning butter, making cheese, scrubbing floors with homemade lye soap and plowing the garden with a team of horses. Tours of the farmstead are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no charge for the tours, but donations are accepted.

LBJ State Park lies directly across the Pedernales River from the LBJ Ranch, operated by the National Park Service. It includes the one-room schoolhouse that a 4-year-old Johnson attended in 1912, a reconstruction of his birthplace, the Johnson family cemetery, where LBJ and Lady Bird are buried and the Johnson Family Home, also known as the Texas White House, part of which is now open to public tours. Tours of the home, which cost $1, take visitors through four rooms. The Texas White House is decorated like it was when the President and Mrs. Johnson lived there, and will remain so through Jan. 5.

The state park’s nature trail, historical displays, grounds and day-use picnic areas are open until dark. Park buildings are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. year-round, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. For group tours, call 830/644-2252, Ext. 229, or visit the park’s Web site.

On the Net:

RM 2009-12-18

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