At the heart of Goldthwaite stands a stunning Welcome Center, encouraging travelers to visit and locals to learn more about their hometown. The million-dollar beautification project, known as Legacy Plaza, resulted in a communal place to gather and serves as the gateway to the Texas Botanical Gardens. The Gardens, which provide immersive outdoor educational and cultural enrichment programs, have profoundly impacted Texas education and are in communication to become a Smithsonian affiliate museum.
A beautiful glass curtain wall faces the main highway 183. This modern design stands out in Goldthwaite and invites travelers into our Welcome Center. Construction of the building totaled 1.3 million dollars, made possible by a Texas Department of Transportation grant awarded to the project. The year following the garden’s completion in 2015, the Goldthwaite Pavilion was built and together they beautify three bare lots, increase sales tax, and preserve the community character of Goldthwaite.
Even before the design of the new Welcome Center, Jan Fisher, a retired teacher and Goldthwaite local, conceptualized an ecology center showcasing the plant life historically native to the region and the geography representative of the ridgeline running along the Colorado River. It wasn’t long before Texan By Nature – an environmental organization founded by former First Lady Laura Bush – realized the value and got involved in the project. Constructed from local materials, the gardens showcase sustainable design by conserving water, preserving natural resources, and promoting appropriate land use. With the help and funding from several partners, the Botanical Gardens hosted its grand opening in 2014, with Former First Lady Bush in attendance.
The Texas Botanical Gardens meet the urgent need for outdoor education and cultural enrichment programs. They provide free classes for children under 17, giving them a rare opportunity to learn outside the classroom and cultivate their appreciation of the natural world. Going a step further, the center also offers off-site tours through partnerships with Texas landowners. Accessing private lands allows enrichment classes about archeology, astronomy, birding, harvesting rainwater, wildlife management, and more! Though children are an important focus, organizations of all ages are encouraged to book group presentations on many topics related to native landscapes and the archaeology of Mills County. There are so many interactive ways to learn about Texas ecology at the Texas Botanical Gardens!
The Goldthwaite Pavillion
The Goldthwaite Pavilion was built in 2016 to provide a contemporary meeting space for workshops, business gatherings, speakers, concerts, galas, weddings, wedding receptions, and special youth events such as prom. The pavilion is owned by the City but is leased to the Botanical Gardens for the management of events and rentals. Impressively, the space seats up to 350 people, and 300 with tables and chairs. With clean restrooms, a catering kitchen, and a portable stage, the Goldthwaite Pavilion is a versatile structure welcome to all! It even hosts the annual Goldthwaite Hunter Appreciation luncheon on the opening day of deer hunting season.
Future Native American Center
Future plans for cultural expansion in Goldthwaite include a Native American Interpretive Center to display the lifestyles of ancient peoples’ in an interactive manner rather than isolated exhibits. Native Americans prioritized the natural environment in every aspect of their cultural, spiritual, and social lives. By mimicking indigenous Texans’ use of local plants and waterways, we can celebrate “green” living and practice their conservationist methods. This project is still raising funds but we look will look forward to its future completion.
Visit Goldthwaite and our Beautiful Gardens
Legacy Plaza should be your first stop when visiting Goldthwaite! Here travelers can ask questions about where to eat, where to shop, and what to see. At the heart of Goldthwaite’s cultural district, Legacy Plaza is the ideal first stop to visit the library, historical museum, theater, and gardens.
The Botanical Gardens and future Native American Interpretive Center are truly remarkable assets to Goldthwaite’s community. Stay tuned for events such as painting colorful naturescapes, Mardi Gras cookouts, and Prairie Experience Nature Fest! You can even keep up with the center by watching their educational videos on YouTube and engaging with their social media accounts. Don’t miss your chance to visit a sustainable habitat modeled after the Paleo-Indian time period.