The HEARTS Story

About Us Photo

The creation of the HEARTS Veterans Museum of Texas is a remarkable story of a patriotic gesture turned into a moment of inspiration and nurtured with an overwhelming grassroots effort into a full-fledged museum honoring the service of the American veteran.

 

From a Display in an Antique Shop...

The Museum traces its origins to 1993 when Charlotte Oleinik placed a Veterans Day display honoring Huntsville native, Brigadier General Ray Lynch, in the window of the Bluebonnet Square Antiques Shop.

 

By 1995 Charlotte was a member of a committee that organized the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. At the request of a history teacher at Mance Park Middle School, Janet McMillan, local veterans involved in the celebration spoke to her students about their experiences in war and the military, illustrating their talks wth memorabilia and artifacts from their personal collections. The veterans made also several other presentations to large groups of students at the Huntsville Public Library.

To a Traveling School Exhibit...

After the year of celebration, Charlotte Oleinik, joined by World War II veteran Charles Davis, continued presentations in Walker County schools, transporting and setting up exhibits at each school.

 

In 1999 Oleinik and Davis placed a small exhibit of the Time Line of Wars in the Twentieth Century at West Hill Shopping Mall in Huntsville. By this time the memorabilia and artifacts used by veterans in their presentations had grown to the point that it was impossbile to use much of it in a school setting. The West Hill Shopping Mall offered a vacant space in the Mall to house a museum for the artifacts.

 

Charlotte and Charlie's presentation was so compelling that soon they were asked to present the same program to other classes and other schools. As word spread among area veterans, their collection of military artifacts and memorabilia used in their presentations began to grow. Eventually the collection outgrew their ability to travel with it, and they recognized the need for a permanent location for them.

 

The idea for the HEARTS Veterans Museum of Texas as a hands-on, living history museum was born!

To a Fixed Museum Location...

In 1994 Charlotte and Charlie formally launched the Museum, and it has continued to grow with the support of the community and area veterans. It has come to be recognized as one of the finest examples of grassroots organization and an outstanding museum of living history and depository of personal military artifacts.

 

The Museum began operation in a leased space in the West Hill Mall in Huntsville, Texas and began a campaign to fund and build a new museum building.

 

The State of Texas, through the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, donated property for the Museum between State Highway 75, and Interstate Highway 45 adjacent to the Texas Prison Museum on the north edge of Huntsville.

 

In 2006 the H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum of Texas board and Walker County entered into an agreement to apply for a F.E.M.A. Grant in the amount of $2,814,000., and a Texas O.R.C.A. Grant in the amount of $350,000 to build an emergency shelter/conference center on museum property adjacent the proposed Museum site. The Storm Shelter was included in the Museum's overall building plans, and the Museum contracted to manage the facility as a conference center when not needed for a storm shelter. The Storm Shelter was completed and began operation in 2009, and was included in the Museum's overall building plans.

To a New Permanent Museum Building

New Permanent Museum in 2009 construction began on the Veterans Museum Building. Completed, with a Grand Opening Ceremony approtely held on Veterans Day November 11, 2009. To compliment the inside exhibits,

 

New Permanent Building. The museum has acquired several pieces of static displays, ie. H-1 Huey Helicopter, Cobra Attack Helicopter, a Duece & Half Troop Carrier, Two Jeeps, a Gamma Goat, a Forward Bunker, a F16A Jet and soon to arrive a M60 A3 Patton Tank.