Lyndon Baines Johnson Library - Step Back to A Grand Era

Published in the La Vernia News on March 13, 2013 in the Everyday Journeys Column by Harry and Linda Kaye Perez (Photos by Linda Kaye Perez)

           Step back a few Decades to the era of LBJ

       Twenty-one of our forty-three past Presidents of the United States have a Presidential Library and/or Museum, and here in Texas we have three: the George H. W. Bush Library on the Texas A&M University campus in College Station; the George Bush Library in Dallas; and the Lyndon B. Johnson Library, built on a 30-acre site on the University of Texas campus in Austin.


       This library was originally dedicated on May 22, 1971, and sees over 150,000 visitors each year. Realizing that “times were a-changing,” the Library underwent a $10 million redesign, paid for through private donations, to bring new interactive exhibits to the facility. After one year of work, the new and improved LBJ Library was unveiled on December 22, 2012. This date was chosen to honor what would have been Lady Bird Johnson’s 100th birthday.

                                                 First Sight

   When you enter the Library, you will actually be on the third floor,and the first thing you will see is LBJ’s custom-built Black Stretch Presidential Limousine. Although it was equipped with a TV, telephone, and special communication system direct to the Secret Service, it was not bulletproof or armored. Your next stop should be the theatre showing an excellent 11-minute multimedia experience about our 36th President.

LBJ LimoSocial Justice Gallery


Mural-Grand Staircase

         Before leaving the 3rd floor, allow yourself time in the Social Justice Gallery. Here you will learn about legislation that was championed by LBJ, that today we take for granted. These include Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Fair Housing, War on Poverty, Medicare and Medicaid, Public Broadcasting, Immigration, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Freedom of Information Act. 

                                                 Paper Trail

      Walk up the Grand Staircase to the 4th floor and the Great Hall. There is a magnificent mural depicting President Johnson and the Presidents he worked under. Focus your attention above the mural and through the glass. You will see the next four floors of the facility that holds 45 million pages of documents of the Johnson era. The main exhibits on this floor are  the LBJ Presidency, the Presidents and First Ladies (from George Washington to Barack Obama) and A Legacy of Liberty.

      Next, take the elevator to the 10th floor where you can visit replicas of the Oval Office and Lady Bird’s office. From her office window, there is a stunning view of the University of Texas football stadium and the Texas Capitol in the background.

      Mrs. Johnson was a lifelong advocate for beautifying the nation's cities and highways. The Highway Beautification Act, passed in 1965, was also known as Lady Bird's Bill. In Washington DC she started a beautification project that involved planting millions of flowers. Even the Austin riverfront area benefited from her love of nature in the Town Lake Beautification Project. In 2007, following her death, this lake was renamed Lady Bird Lake. 

LBJ theatre

     There is an intimate short video about the Johnson family’s life in the White House. One of the Johnson daughters tells a story of when she was a teenager and decided to slip out of the White House without the Secret Service knowing about it. She got all the way to the main gate, but had a change of heart - you need to watch the video to see why.

       In a Word: Education

      Visiting this library is well worth your time and you will certainly benefit from learning the history of this President who was bigger than life. Personally, I think we learned more about LBJ in just three hours in the Library than we ever knew before and we gained an appreciation of what he was able to accomplish. 

                                                                                                                                           Bigger Than Life

President Johnson once said, “At the desk where I sit, I have learned one great truth. The answer for all our national problems - the answer for all the problems of the world - comes to a single word. That word is education.”                                                                                                       


Lady Bird was born Claudia Alta Taylor. While still an infant, her nurse commented that she was as pretty as a ladybird (what we know today as a ladybug). The name stuck. In high school she was simply called "Bird" 


On Dec 9, 1941, Representative Johnson was the first member of Congress to volunteer for active duty in the U.S. Navy and in 1942 received the Silver Star for gallantry in action during an aerial mission in the Pacific.


President Johnson, his wife and both daughters share the same initials: LBJ.


The LBJ Library is located at 2313 Red River Street, off Interstate 35, exit 235B; just a 74-mile drive from LaVernia. The Library is open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except Christmas. Admission fees are $3 for children 13-17, $5 for seniors and $8 for adults. Children under 13, UT students, active duty military and student groups with reservations, are free. 










                                                                                                                                        Cultural Blending Taking Place


                                                                  Ah - To Sit Here


   © Harry Perez 2012