Buffalo Gap Historic Village
Old Taylor County Courthouse and Jail
|Location||Buffalo Gap, Texas|
|Architect||Martin,Bryne & Johnston|
|Architectural style||No Style Listed|
|NRHP Reference #||
|Added to NRHP||June 9, 1978|
Buffalo Gap Historic Village is a large museum of fifteen outdoor structures and West Texas artifacts that reach back to the late 19th century and the early 20th century located in the small town of Buffalo Gap south of Abilene, Texas. The museum focuses particularly upon the years 1883, 1905, and 1925. The village is centered on the original Old Taylor County Courthouse and Jail from 1879. Several entire buildings have been moved to the village from other parts of the state for display, including an early Texaco gasoline station. The Old Taylor County Courthouse and Jail building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Other buildings include pioneer log cabins, a medical display, a barbershop, railroad depot with working telegraph system, blacksmith shop, two-room school, bank, post office, and air-conditioned chapel. Additionally, there is a large collection of firearms, Indian, and farm/ranch-related material, all displayed informally. The gift shop has an assortment of books and Texas gifts. A short video on the history of the region is presented in the visitors center. Picnicking facilities and playground equipment are available.
The village originated as a historic site in 1956. Three years later, Ernie Wilson, a lawyer historian, rancher, and churchman, purchased the courthouse building and established a small museum of Indian and Western artifacts. Wilson also procured two other Taylor County structures, the Hill House and the Knight/Sayles Cabin. All are incorporated in the Buffalo Gap Village. Wilson died in 1970. The site was purchased in 1977 by R. Lee Rode, M.D., and his wife, Ann. The Rodes expanded the site by acquiring more regional historic structures. When Rode retired from medicine, he offered the village for sale. Through the efforts of the Taylor County Historical Foundation, the village was maintained intact and acquired by the Grady McWhiney Research Foundation. It is operated as a non-profit educational facility. The village charges a small admission fee.
Since 1999, the McWhiney Foundation has developed an interpretive theme for the site. Visitors can learn the history of the last half century of the Texas frontier between 1875 and 1925. They can obtain an understanding of the forces, such as the automobile, that brought change to the region. The village offers special events and lectures. A short book, The Texas You Expect: The Story of Buffalo Gap Historic Village, is now in publication. 
Buffalo Gap Village offers the public access to the Chautauqua Learning Series. These are monthly lectures based on the Chautauqua movement which spread throughout the rural United States at the turn of the 20th century. Speakers on the circuit included the entertainer Charles Ross Taggart and the three-time Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan. A sample lecture is entitled "Victorian Underpinnings: Why Did They Wear That?" about heavy women's clothing in the 19th century.
The community is four miles northeast of Lake Abilene and the Abilene State Park. Less than ten miles away is the new state-of-the art Frontier Texas! museum in downtown Abilene, which features narration by the former Gunsmoke star Buck Taylor. Lake Kirby within Abilene offers fishing and picnicking.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- Texas Department of Transportation, Texas State Travel Guide, 2008, p. 113
- Buffalo Gap Historic Village - official site