Wimberley Institute of Cultures is over 20 years old and going strong.
Who would have guessed 20 years ago that we would actually have achieved what we have? We are grateful to all of the fine people who have given so much time, skill and money to create these 20 years of achievement. Not only have all of us -- currently more than 400 members -- profited by this happy venture, but also the Wimberley Valley has benefited from our efforts. WIC is very pleased to have been acknowledged by Wimberley Mayor Steve Klepfer as a key to the Village of Wimberley being named a “Preserve America Community.”
First, the fun: fabulous treks, the most recent being our County Log Cabin trek and most extensive, the Oaxaca trip; the summer River Blessings with lovely picnics on the river; quarterly meetings with programs and good food; and the best Christmas party in the county . . . not to mention all of the good fellowship.
Secondly, the work: we have planned and docented walks through historic Wimberley; for 10 years we have taught fourth grade students about their hometown history and its pioneer families; we have restored and managed the Winters-Wimberley House; and since 1990 we have staged the highly successful Pie Social – a money raiser for us but an annual delight for the valley as well. And there is more, as you will see.
All of this began in a very small way in 1986 with $500 left over from the Bluebonnet Ball, a major Wimberley Celebration of Texas’ 150th anniversary as a state. According to Dody Spencer, an early and still active member very dear to us all, “We began with a few members and a little money” and “we needed to expand and be heard. The Pie Social was our first offering. WIC took off slowly but determined.” The founders’ mission – undertaking both research and education and documenting the Valley’s cultural resources . . . was rather grand. But here is what we have accomplished:
We have restored two murals, historic treasures by Buck Winn, a noted and highly accomplished artist and inventor who settled here in 1941. One mural now hangs in the Wimberley High School and the other will be hung in the newly completed Wimberley Community Center.
We have restored Wimberley’s premier historical landmark, the Winters-Wimberley House, and are presently wrapping up the entire project by replacing the old cow barn near the house with a climate-controlled achieves building, soon to be accessible to anyone interested in our collections. When the landscaping is completed, the entire project will be done. The Restoration Committee has been responsible for the fund raising, plan development and project oversight beginning in 1998 under the leadership of Lila Knight, followed by Dee Ann Story in 1999 and, since 2000, Betsy Markland. The restored Winters-Wimberley House (circa 1856) has earned two historic markers: a Texas Historical Commission site marker and a listing in the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Using the Winters-Wimberley House, WIC created and opened to the public a number of first rate exhibits including:
“Buck Winn, Renaissance Man”
“In the Good Old Summertime: Wimberley’s Early Summer Camps and Resorts”
“500 Generations of Prehistory”
“Ranching: The Romance and the Reality”
We have offered the Winters-Wimberley House for exhibits to other groups also interested in the cultures of the Valley: natural history enthusiasts’ “Wimberley’s Water and our Natural History,” the Art League’s “Visions of the Hill Country,” and The Wimberley Players’ “25 Years on Stage.”
We have collected a huge number of historic photographs and continue to collect those of the early village landscapes and of pioneer families, particularly the millers of Wimberley and their families, and of events which helped shape our history. Many of these photographs are handsomely framed; quite a few are now on permanent exhibit in the Winters-Wimberley House. With each exhibit come more photographs, sometimes artifacts, oral histories and videos.
We have mounted mini-exhibits in the Wimberley Library each July and December, the most recent being “Landscape Gems of the Wimberley Area.”
We have published “Modest Beginnings,” a self-guided tour brochure of historic Wimberley on sale at the Visitor’s Center.
Very early we produced a play written by WIC’s own Dr. Dorey Schmidt dramatizing the coming of electricity to Wimberley in 1939.
In the late 1980s we offered a “History of Wimberley” course, designed by our founders, covering the Wimberley Valley’s history, geology and people history. (With so many newcomers, there is talk of repeating this.)
For the elementary school students, we have produced “WOW! Watch Our Water!”, a video on water conservation. This video needs to be updated.
IN THE WORKS:
An application for a National Register marker is underway for the 1934 James C. Lane house on The Square, now called the Gingerbread House.
Materials are being collected for a Texas Historical Marker application for the 1890 John Henry Saunders Store on The Square, now called Rancho Deluxe.
The restoration of a third Buck Winn mural is under construction by WIC.
“The Village of Wimberley Cookbook” is well underway, containing 400-plus community recipes as well as original art.
In short, WIC has done a great deal in its 20-year history with a gifted and highly motivated membership and still has the potential to do – what? We will all be writing that story!!
The point is Sign up! Pitch in! Participate! More than that, Create! We need new ideas, fresh directions. Our President, or any board member, would be really glad to hear from you with suggestions or to hear those magic words, “I would like to serve.”