Parks Partners

Increasing community partnerships will be one of the department's major goals for 2010. Measuring the value of contributions by partners is very important. We want partners who will contribute dollars or services to parks, programs and events to reduce dependency on the General Fund. Some examples of community partners are: the Brownsville Historical Association, Rio Bravo Wildlife Institute, UTB School of Public Health, local churches, Best Buy, Home Depot, and various other businesses, non-profits, and governmental entities. This creates more recreational opportunities, expanded services, provides parks clean-up, and assists the community with doing their part to make city parks better places to be active.

Camille Playhouse in Dean Porter Park

Located in Dean Porter Park, sits the 300-seat Camille Playhouse Community Theater. In the fall of 1963, a small group of Speech and Drama teachers, along with interested theater buffs, joined together and started a new Little Theater Group calling themselves "The Brownsville Players." Their devotion, effort and hard work was recognized by the Sams Foundation and in the summer of 1964 the new theater group was provided a grant for the construction of the theater. The City of Brownsville donated the location in Dean Porter Park and on January 31, 1965, the Camille Playhouse, was dedicated and named in tribute to the Camille Sams Lightner, daughter of Earl Croder Sams, founder of the Sams Foundation.

In the 40 seasons since that opening night, the theater has continued to grow both in audience and in artistic achievement. The Camille currently features a year round schedule of plays and musicals, expanded youth programs workshops, and special events and productions throughout the year. The theater is proud of the fact that since the initial generous endowments, they have become entirely self-supported and continue the vision of the original founders, once again through devotion, effort and hard work.

Brownsville Children's Museum in Dean Porter Park

Adults and children of all ages enjoy the Children's Museum of Brownsville. A popular destination since it opened in 2005 at Dean Porter Park, the kid-friendly museum offers a fun environment where youngsters can participate in a variety of activities including story hours, field trips and summer camps. Interactive displays designed for hands-on exploration include Tac Tile Panels, a mosaic of unusual textured panels, and the Infant/Toddler Area decorated with fish, birds and sea creatures. Themed exhibits include All World's Café, By The Sea, Construction Zone, Dance With Me, Health Clinic, Texas Farmhouse, The Plaza, and Weather Station. A new permanent HEBuddy Market exhibit is scheduled to open in 2010 with the generous sponsorship from H.E.B. Free Community Night is offered on the last Thursday of each month from 5-7 p.m. and birthday parties may be held at the museum with advance reservations.

Brownsville Museum of Fine Art (BMFA) in Southern Pacific Linear Park

The Brownsville Museum of Fine Art, founded 1935, began as an art producing organization by local artists knowledgeable in the visual arts and eager to share their enthusiasm with the public. Formerly the "Brownsville Art League" and housed in the historic Neale House, the name was changed to the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art in 2001. The Brownsville Museum of Fine Art is the only institute in deepest south Texas dedicated exclusively to the advancement of the visual arts.

In 2006 the Museum opened a new 17,000 square-foot building with conservation and exhibition facilities in the heart of the Mitte Cultural District of Brownsville. The Museum occupies a prime location at the head of a nine-mile Historic Battlefield Trail and outhern Pacific Linear Park leading to the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site. Through many active programs of exhibitions, classes for children and adults, and special events, the Brownsville Museum of Fine Arts is able to strengthen the community through art.

Brownsville Historical Association (BHA)

In 2009, the Brownsville Historical Association also opened the Southmost Heritage Center (SHC) in partnership with the City of Brownsville Parks and Recreation Department. This center serves the Southmost community, especially the youth, in order to provide a valuable and unprecedented outreach service to the Southmost area. The SHC provides venues for established and emerging artists, historians, preservationists, performers, local residents and tourists to engage in cultural activities designed to enrich and inspire.

Founded in 1947, the BHA opened Brownsville's first history museum at Fort Brown. While there, BHA acquired a vast collection of photographs, artifacts and documents. As part of its strategic plan, BHA increased its cemetery preservation program and opened Old City Cemetery Center in October 2007. The Parks and Recreation Department works in partnership with the BHA to provide community clean-ups and events at the historic site, which is located near the Southern Pacific Linear Park. As a part of this project, BHA also partnered with the City of Brownsville in 2007. This partnership was awarded the Preserve America Designation and a grant to promote and enhance the heritage of Brownsville while attracting visitors to the region. In that year, BHA also entered into a contract with the City of Brownsville to restore and turn Market Square into a Heritage Tourism site.