67 foot Sam Houston statue on I-45 near Huntsville
Photo courtesy of steevithak

The Two Sides of Huntsville

Sam Houston & The State Penitentiary

Two days / one night

Huntsville is a charming, vibrant East Texas community with two distinct themes that dominate its existence. It was the home of Sam Houston during the last period of his life, and it is the site of the major unit of the Texas Penitentiary System. Your group will investigate both of these during your visit.

Tour Highlights

The Texas State Penitentiary

Issues involving the death penalty, the use of DNA to determine guilt, and the purpose and methods used in our state incarceration program are major points of discussion these days, all the way to the Presidential race. Sam Houston State University in Huntsville contains one of the world’s most prestigious schools of criminal justice, and we can engage leading experts there to talk privately with your group about these matters. Your travelers will gain a rare insight into the many sides of these issues though these presentations. You will tour – as far as the authorities will allow – several of the prison units in Huntsville, including the famous Walls Unit, where Death Row is located. You will also see the Texas Prison Museum which contains the notorious electric chair, information about the development of these prisons, and arts and crafts made by the prisoners.

Sam Houston, Texas’ Greatest Hero

Huntsville was the home of Sam Houston the last decade of his life. His home and last possessions, law office and the outbuildings to his farm are all preserved here. The great issues of the latter part of his life were played out here in these buildings – the annexation of Texas, the coming of the War Between the States, his refusal to support the Confederacy. Most importantly, here is the Sam Houston Museum which chronicles the life of this incredible hero – President, the only man to be Governor of two states, Senator, the victor of San Jacinto. We will see his stately burial site and visit the enormous statue of this man – a giant statue for a giant leader.


Sam Houston’s grave

Tour Can Include

Overnight accommodations at the University Hotel, part of the Criminal Justice Center in Huntsville. You will not be staying in the penitentiary itself, unless you do something to get yourself put there.

Your group will enjoy three quite different and exceptional meals in town: lunch at the Texas Café on the square (on your own dining); a superb gourmet dinner at The Homestead, the finest upscale restaurant in town; and lunch served by the ladies of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Their BBQ meals are so renowned they caught the attention of the Dallas Morning News writers who did a special feature article about them.