In one of its most ambitious funding efforts to date, the Texas Historical Foundation got behind the people in the tiny Panhandle town of Claude to help preserve the 1887 residence of cattleman Charles Goodnight and his wife Mary Ann. After visiting the site, THF directors became convinced of the project’s viability and funded work on several outbuildings, a water system, historic reproduction wallpaper, and landscaping.
The story began in 2005, when the Armstrong County Museum (ACM) accepted the donation of the historic home, several small buildings, and 30 acres of surrounding land offered by the owners. That was the easy part, but hurdles remained, mainly because of the immensity of the property.
However, the volunteers and board members were not daunted by the challenge they faced. Museum members rolled up their sleeves, developed a master plan, and began to fundraise. The first major undertaking was huge—the restoration of the residence’s exterior and interior, along with period-appropriate furnishings. That part of the job was made somewhat easier because one of the project leaders, Montie Goodin, had grown up in the Goodnight ranch house. Her father Cleo Hubbard was the last active foreman of the property, and Goodin remembered details of each room, which helped guide the renovation.
Once that massive job was finished, the museum got to work on the construction of a visitor and education center, which includes exhibits and serves as the starting point for tours.
On October 6, 2012, seven years after taking possession of the ranch residence, the house restoration was complete and the doors were opened to the public.
An article on the project that appeared in Texas HERITAGE magazine concluded, “…for generations to come, visitors to the Charles Goodnight Historical Center will learn how the lives and accomplishments of the pioneering rancher and his wife shaped the history of the state and the Panhandle. Yet, what many of these patrons may not recognize is that a huge effort by the board of a small-town museum united Texans near and far in a mission not so impossible after all.”