The Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth, one of the country’s largest such facilities, will close its doors on December 30. After 16 years of operation, Texas oilman Ray Richey and his wife, Judy, have decided to retire. “It was a hobby that got out of hand,” Richey professed in 2006 when he opened the 15,000-square-foot facility to house his extensive personal artifact collection.
Touted as the largest Civil War Museum west of the Mississippi River, the building has more than 5,000 artifacts on display, valued at $15 million–$20 million. Included are Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s presentation sword, Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s saber and personal battle flag, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler’s dress uniform, and Maj. Gen. Phil Sheridan’s saber and saddle blanket. The country’s second largest Civil War gun collection is also on display.
The north wall of the exhibit hall features Union artifacts, the south wall Confederate. In addition to the Civil War artifacts, Victorian-era dresses are featured, including one worn by Lady Randolph Spencer Churchill, Winston Churchill’s mother.
The Richey collection will be auctioned off by The Horse Soldier Auctions in Gettysburg, Pa. The Civil War artifacts of the Texas United Daughters of the Confederacy—also displayed at the museum—will be stored at another location, with portions to be occasionally loaned to other museums.
“What a great gift Ray and Judy provided,” says Texas historian Don Frazier. “Ray had an eye for antiques. There’s not another collection like it. It’s the end of an era.”