Palestine’s Museum for East Texas Culture a must visit for sports fans

Palestine’s Museum for East Texas Culture a must visit for sports fans
Old school Lufkin and Longview helmets can be seen at the Museum for East Texas Culture in Palestine

PALESTINE, Texas (KTRE) - Palestine’s Museum for East Texas Culture is a welcomed step back in time and has three areas that are dedicated to sports memorabilia.

Through a set of double wood doors on the third floor of the old Palestine High School sits the sports collection of the former Bascom Bentlley, a former district judge.

“There is something for everybody in here," Museum Director Daniel Dyer said. “He had been collecting for 40 years.”

The three sports memorabilia exhibits are dedicated to high school football, college football, and professional sports. The high school memorabilia collection boats more than 400 football helmets according to Dyer.

“He did have a friend in the helmet business," Dyer said. "That is why we have a lot of them in here [high school and college]. We have guys from around the state come in and they will find their high school helmets in there.”

The college sports room is mainly a shrine to the Texas Longhorns but there is plenty of Adrian Peterson Oklahoma memorabilia. Peterson, a Palestine native, is one of the all-time greats in Texas high school lure. When deciding on a college destination, Peterson chose Oklahoma over his home state Longhorns.

"The New York Times called judge Bentley and wrote an article on what the judge said. My favorite part was when judge said, ‘It would be like your wife running off with Brad Pitt. You understand it but it still hurts.'”

WEBXTRA: Sports memorabilia exhibits

The professional sports room has everything from autographed NFL helmets, jerseys, footballs, action figures and commemorative soda/beer cans. You have to look closely or you might miss something unique. One of those unique items would be a large triangular piece of cardboard. If you are not looking for it you will miss it tucked against the wall under a signed Emmitt Smith jersey and a signed football.

"Judge Bentley told me that he was in Dallas one time at a pizza place and Jimmy Johnson walked in, the coach of the Dallas Cowboys. [Bentley] had him sign part of a pizza box. "

Not a space is wasted in the exhibit. The items were loaned to the museum for five years. They are on year two of that loan. Dyer expects the items to stay longer.

“There is so much'” Dyer said. ""It would have taken forever [to catalog]. There are so many small items. We did have each item recorded on video. There are some things we didn’t have room for and they were given back to judge and his family. It took a while to get it together but it is a very popular room here. I basically handled everything in here and I walk through and am amazed at how important some of this stuff is."

The museum is in the historic old Palestine High School and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. The address is 400 S Micheaux St, Palestine, TX 75801.

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