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Holiday Open House in Bonham and A Post World War II Christmas with 'Mr. Sam'
By Anne Ruppert, Sam Rayburn House Museum
Dec 12, 2013
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The Sam Rayburn House Museum invites you to attend its annual Holiday Open House on two dates.

On the evening of Thursday, December 12 from 4 – 6 p.m. enjoy refreshments and cheer at the Rayburn House, the Creative Arts Center (200 W. 5th St), the Fannin County Historical Commission and Museum (1 Main St.) and the Sam Rayburn Library and Museum (800 W. Sam Rayburn Dr.). 

The Rayburn House is hosting a second open house on Saturday, December 14 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. The theme for this year’s event focuses onSam Rayburn at home for Christmas in 1945, just after the end of World War II. On Saturday the museum will provide wartime inspired refreshments, cookie decorating for kids and free, themed tours. 

The year 1945 was one of both highs and lows for Sam Rayburn. The year started off on a high for “Mr. Sam” with his reelection as Speaker of the House of Representatives on January 3.

The death of President Roosevelt on April 12 came as a shock to the country, though many in the President’s circle, such as Rayburn and Vice President Harry S. Truman knew of his ill health and had some foresight about his coming last days.

On June 19 Harry S. Truman, the new U.S. President proposed to Congress that the presidential succession law be changed. He proposed that next in line to the presidency after the vice president should be the Speaker of the House. The Speaker was an elected official rather than a member of the President’s cabinet, which is chosen strictly by the president himself. The proposal quickly passed in the House of Representatives, but was not ratified into law until 1947.

The end of war in Europe came on May 8. After atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, Japan surrendered unconditionally effectively ending World War II.

The months after the end of World War II and leading up to the Christmas holiday were busy for Rayburn as he responded to the many inquiries from the public regarding the return to peacetime industry, bringing servicemen home from overseas, providing jobs for veterans and the end of materials and food rationing. 

Rayburn’s time at home for the holidays began with his arrival in Bonham on Christmas Eve, 1945. He enjoyed typical activities of the season including decorating the family’s Christmas tree, relaxing by the fireplace in the home’s sitting room and receiving both phone calls and personal visits by friends conveying their yuletide greetings.

During the museum’s Holiday Open House, visitors will enjoy refreshments and delight in the sounds, scents and sights of the Rayburn home decorated in traditional holiday finery.

The Sam Rayburn House Museum tells the real story of Sam Rayburn, one of the most powerful and influential politicians of the 20th century, in his authentic 1916 home. Preserved as a period time capsule, the two-story home contains all original Rayburn furnishings. The Sam Rayburn House Museum is one of 20 historic attractions operated by the Texas Historical Commission. For more information visit