Mayborn Museum hosts first Village Wednesday of September

The village schoolhouse is equipped with a working bell. Grace Everett | Photo Editor

By Mykah Briscoe | Reporter

The Mayborn Museum Complex hosted its first Village Wednesday event of the month in its historic village, which is comprised of several 1890s-style buildings.

Museum visitors were able to step into the past and ground coffee beans and herbs, including lavender and mint, the way it was done at the end of the 19th century. In addition to hands-on activities, the village has a garden, which visitors can help tend to or plant seeds in.

According to the Mayborn website, the Village Wednesday program started in 2017, but the 1890s-inspired buildings were originally donated to Baylor University in 1985 by the family of former Guam Governor Bill Daniel.

Pharr graduate student Andrea Valdez is an evaluation apprentice at the Mayborn and oversees the garden. She said often, visitors return to the museum to keep tending the garden after planting seeds.

“Some of our visitors, regulars, have a lot of agency over this garden because they know that they planted this section, and every week, they come back and they help me pull weeds,” Valdez said.

Waco resident Anna Lindsay said she frequents Village Wednesday with her family, and they came almost every week last year. She said her children planted a pea in the garden and later came back to see the grown plant.

Baylor graduate and former elementary school teacher Laura Cresson said she used to bring her classes to the village every April after finishing “Little House on the Prairie,” and now she comes with her granddaughter. Cresson said her favorite part about the experience is that it is interactive.

“They can see it and touch it and hear things that they can’t normally hear in school,” Cresson said.

Museum engagement assistant coordinator Melissa Pennington said the Mayborn tries to use Village Wednesdays as an opportunity to bring visitors outside.

“We carve out this one two-hour period on Wednesday to instead of being on the floor as much inside, to come out here and try to help interpret and let them explore,” Pennington said.

The village is made up of various buildings that would be seen in an 1890s town, such as a school, a commissary, a carriage house and others. As well as the main garden, there is an herb garden and a pollination garden, which is visited by many bees and monarch butterflies.

Valdez said the village is not only a great place to learn about various areas of interest but also a spot to study, picnic or relax, with benches, picnic tables and rocking chairs spread throughout.

“They always talk about what’s the best study area at Baylor, but this is a space for them that’s free,” Valdez said.

The village also brings families and generations together and evokes a sense of appreciation for the way we live now, Pennington said.

“That’s the magic: the family stories,” Pennington said.

Village Wednesday occurs every Wednesday year-round, and the activities change with the season. There is also a virtual tour available and an activity offered inside if the village has to be closed for weather.

New events are hosted in the village often — notably Christmas Lights in the Village, which occurs two weekends in December. The entire village is decorated with thousands of lights, and a petting zoo is brought in, along with food trucks and other fun things, Pennington said.

“There’s no place more beautiful than this village in the fall and in the summer,” Pennington said.