History of San Felipe, Texas

SAN FELIPE, San Felipe de Austin, laid out in July 1823 as the Colonial Headquarters of Stephen F. Austin’s Colony, is one of the oldest towns in Texas. Located on a bluff near the west bank of the Brazos River, San Felipe is two miles north of Interstate 10 on FM 1458. The site served Native Americans and early travelers as a Brazos River crossing point. Eventually eight roads converged in San Felipe and a 1969 Texas State Historical Marker shares this history. San Felipe was known as the “Colonial Capital of Texas” and served as the political center of colonial Texas until razed March 29, 1836 during the Texas Revolution.

San Felipe de Austin museum

The State of Texas recognized San Felipe in 2005 as both the Official Colonial Capital of Texas and Official Birthplace of the Texas Rangers.
Little known facts:
Election of the Ayuntamiento at San Felipe in 1828 was the first constitutional election in Anglo-American Texas.
First Capital City of the Texas Revolution, hosting the Provisional Government established by the Consultation that met from November 15, 1835 to March 1, 1836.
Scene of the Convention of 1832 and 1833 along with the Consultation of 1835 that led to the Texas Revolution.
The only place Stephen F. Austin – the “Father of Texas” – claimed as his home.
William Barret Travis, Mrs. Jane Long, David G Burnet, R.M. Williamson, and other famous Texians lived in San Felipe prior to its burning.
In 1835, the permanent Council at San Felipe approved the beginning of “The Texas Rangers” know then as “Ranging Company of Riflemen.”

San Felipe de Austin State Historic site is located off FM 1458 at the Brazos River with an entrance off of 2nd Street just across from the Historic Methodist Church.
On April 27, 2018 the Texas Historical Commission opened the San Felipe de Austin museum to better share the stories of this important early Texas site. It is a state-of-the-art museum commemorating the location where, in 1823, Stephen F. Austin established a headquarters for his colony in Mexican Texas. San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site and the new museum share the stories of early settlers in this region. Visitors can walk in the footsteps of these early pioneers at what was the social, economic, and political center of American emigration to Texas before independence.

The original historic site, on the west side of FM 1458, contains 7 blocks of the original capital with an 1830s hand-dug well, remaining as the only original architectural feature of the historic town. November 12, 2021 marked the grand opening of the Villa de Austin set on the land next to the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site in San Felipe, Texas. Villa de Austin is an outdoor exhibit which includes eight structures and are based on the Town Lot 566 located ¼ mile to the west of the San Felipe de Austin Visitors Center and the Villa outdoor exhibit.

The eight structures at the Villa are open to all ages and with hands-on experience for all. This gives children and adults the opportunity to touch and feel what was present in the 1830’s. The eight structures represented at the Villa are:
• Texas Gazette Printshop
• Austin Academy School
• Courthouse and Convention Hall
• Emigrant’s Residence
• Farmer’s Hotel
• Celia’s Bake Oven and Kitchen
• Pitsaw Frame

The site has added objects including the J.J. Josey Store building (ca. 1847) – a museum from the 1960s until 2009 now used for special programming, a replica dogtrot cabin, Stephen F. Austin – Father of Texas Centennial statue, and a 1928 obelisk and memorial markers to tell the history of the site.

Historic locations in San Felipe:
Old San Felipe Church (ca. 1824)
San Felipe de Austin Cemetery (ca. 1824)
San Felipe Town Hall (ca. 1842)
Stephen F. Austin State Park

Stephen F. Austin State Park headquarters

The Stephen F. Austin State Park is a beautiful Recreational Park which occupies 600 plus acres of moss draped pecan bottoms along the Brazos River. It occupies part of the land granted to Stephen F. Austin, “Father of Texas”, for the first Anglo-American colony in Texas. Near the park is an 18-hole golf course. The state park offers camping, hiking trails, birding, wildlife viewing, fishing, and group facilities. The Texas State resource just a few miles west of Houston offers a diverse opportunity for families.