Brenham w/o Ice Cream

The other day we, my Houston Cousin and I undertook an excursion to Chappell Hill, Texas, to visit with her close friend the ceramic artist and painter Ruth Wilson. The three of us then headed over to the neighboring town for lunch at the historic Ant Street Inn in Brenham, Washington County, the birthplace of Texas. The Texas Declaration of Independence [from Mexico] was signed in Washington-on-the-Brazos, as opposed to Washington-on-the-Potomac, on March 2, 1836.


The ant reference, we were told, might have originated with the many workers all spilling out onto the street to walk home at the end of their shift. More recently Brenham became famous for the Blue Bell Creameries which produced highly regarded ice cream until 2015 when a major listeriosis scandal nearly wiped out the more than 100-year-old company. With a much reduced workforce, they have begun to restock stores and restaurants with their creamy products but the bosses are still facing a federal criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice. Another interesting part of Brenham’s history is its former lively Jewish community, which began in the 1860ies with early Jewish settlers arriving and invigorating Brenham’s commercial enterprises, building shops, schools, a theater, and a synagogue. A thriving orthodox Jewish community was formally established in 1885, but ultimately there weren’t enough Jewish girls left to marry, so the Jewish population was gradually absorbed into the more robust Lutheran community. If you’re curious about the Synagogue B’nai Abraham congregational history, the link offers more insight.

For us, the main program point was sharing a meal, so we went straight for tasty tex-mex at the Brenham Grill in the Ant Street Inn.

Our hard-working waitress – note the diner in overalls. This is farm & ranch country!
The unusually massive chandelier in the dining room

We poked around the ground floor of the hotel a little, taking in the fun period atmosphere.

The bathrooms or washrooms or restrooms, in France, simply called toilets were another interesting feature.

The dainty ladies’ powder room …
… and the men’s room decorated with a stuffed weasel and assorted resting ladies

After lunch, we walked and window shopped quite a bit, visiting the gallery of the Art League and any variety of tchotchke shops.

Exploring Brenham was great, especially in the company of these fun ladies. Thank you, Linda, for taking me along and introducing me to Ruth!

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