Admiral Nimitz State Historic Site
National Museum of the Pacific War
One of the last places you would probably look for a U.S. Naval museum is the land-locked hills of Central Texas.
But Chester Nimitz, the colorful and famous U.S. Naval Admiral of the Second World War, was a Fredericksburg native, growing up in the gentle Texas Hill Country and gaining many influences from the experience.
The Admiral Nimitz State Historic Site in Fredericksburg is the only institution in the continental United States dedicated exclusively to telling the story of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and World War II in the Pacific Theater.
Located on a seven-acre site, the Center includes The National Museum of the Pacific War George Bush Gallery, the Japanese Garden of Peace, the History Walk of the Pacific War, the Plaza of the Presidents, the Surface Warfare Plaza, the Memorial and Victory Walls, the Veterans Walk of Honor and the Center for Pacific War Studies.
In addition to nearly 24,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space, the museum boasts an impressive display of Allied and Japanese aircraft, tanks, guns and other large artifacts made famous during the Pacific War campaigns.
The museums many fine exhibits highlight the story of early Fredericksburg, the Nimitz Family, Chester Nimitz from his birth in 1885, his early childhood in the old Nimitz Hotel, his appointment to the US Naval Academy to his role during World War II until his death in 1966.
One of the eye catching exhibits is a fifteen-foot model of the carrier, Nimitz (CV-68). Located in the historic Nimitz Hotel, on Main Street in downtown Fredericksburg, the Admiral Nimitz Museum is the natural link to the National Museum of the Pacific War.
The History Walk of the Pacific is a living history museum. The Nimitz Museum’s staff of trained living history volunteers make the sights, sounds and smells of World War II come to life through special events throughout the year. These include the use of uniformed interpreters, usually at the Museum’s recreated Pacific Island battleground, located at the History Walk.
Visitors to such programs will see tanks and vehicles in operation, be able to speak to the crew of the TBM torpedo bomber, ride in a World War II half-track and see demonstrations of the weapons used in the conflict, from M1 rifles to BARs, machine guns and even a working flame-thrower. The highlight of each program is a recreated combined arms assault on a simulated enemy bunker which has to be seen to be believed.
The Museum’s collection of artifacts from the Pacific War totals well over 5,000 and contains everything from beer passes on the Island to aircraft and tanks. Hundreds of new donations come in every year. Many of these items are on display in the permanent and temporary exhibits of the Museum, and many more are rotated between preservation storage and exhibit on a regular basis.
Archival collection materials are maintained by the Center for Pacific War Studies. The Museum’s archival center and holdings are growing steadily. Researchers from around the country routinely use this valuable resource which boasts more than 10,000 Pacific War photos, an extensive collection of private papers, official documents and manuscripts and a research library of more than 3,000 volumes, all related to the Pacific War.
One of the Museum’s most ambitious projects has been the acquisition and restoration of America’s only remaining World War II combat veteran PT boat to be restored. PT 309 was discovered still sailing daily in Long Island New York in 1994 as a day fishing boat, hardly recognizable in its more recent format. The boat was purchased and then made the transit from New York to Galveston under its own power in late 1994. Since then, the boat has been placed at the Battleship Texas in the Houston area where it has been undergoing restoration under the guidance of a primarily volunteer crew.
Plans call for a “seaworthy” restoration in order to have the boat in excellent condition when it makes the transition to the Museum in Fredericksburg and placement in a fully developed environmental exhibit which will appear as an advanced PT boat base “somewhere in the Pacific.” The boat is available to be viewed during the restoration process.
The Veterans Walk of Honor
This historic walk leads to one of the most beautiful parts of the Museum; the Japanese Garden of Peace. When the Japanese people learned that a museum bearing Admiral Nimitz’s name was being built in his hometown, they formed a special committee to contribute to the effort. The result was the Garden of Peace; designed in Japan, it was constructed by seven craftsmen who spent two months in Texas during 1976 to recreate a traditional Japanese Garden. This special place for quiet reflection is Japan’s tribute to the skill and honor of Admiral Nimitz and a display of the reconciliation between the two nations following World War II.
Regardless the time of year you visit, Fredericksburg and the Admiral Nimitz Center are always a great destination – for a night, a week or a lifetime. Explore more about the community of Fredericksburg and explore the Texas Hill Country. And come back soon!
National Museum of the Pacific War
311 E Austin St
Fredericksburg, TX 78624