Herzstein Memorial Museum

Where History Comes to Life...

Albert Herzstein was born in

1907 in Triniad, Colorado, the son

of Lena and Morris Herzstein, early

Jewish Settlers in New Mexico.

He spent his childhood in Clayton,

New Mexico, where his family

owned and operated the general

mercantile store, movie theater and

the family ranch.

As a young man, he made his way to Houston where he was employed with a company that later become Houston Oxygen, Sabine Oxygen, and Big Three Industries and is now part of Air Liquide. Mr. Herzstein, even more successful, founded a real estate business in Houston and surrounding communities.

Albert's wife, Ethel Avis was from one of the pioneer families of Fulshear, Texas, a community 30 miles southwest of Houston. It was love at first sight, and they shared a wonderful life together until her death in 1983. It was this love story that served as the catalyst for work of The Herzstein Foundation.

The late Albert Herzstein, remembering his boyhood hometown, generously supported the Union County Historical Society, which had been trying to open a museum in Clayton, New Mexico. Through the Albert & Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation, an extensive renovation of the current building began. The Herzstein Memorial Museum is now fully handicap accessible, with most of the original construction, including the white cedar floors and stained glass windows, from what was originally a Methodist-Episcopal Church. This building was constructed in 1919 and is now listed on the New Mexico Registry of Cultural Property.

The museum is on the State Register of Historic Places. There is no admission charge to the museum or for the monthly Historical Society programs, but donations are always welcome.

The Herzstein Memorial Museum’s gleaming hardwood floors and colorful stained glass windows serve as a lovely setting for the display of antiques and artifacts which have been given or loaned by the many people interested in preserving the history and heritage of Union County. Furnishings from a doctor’s office of the 1930’s, an eye doctor’s equipment, a model railroad with downtown Clayton as the background, vintage clothing and hats, Native American artifacts, toys and furniture are among the many items to be seen in the museum. Other displays feature the Santa Fe Trail, dinosaurs, family memorabilia and many other interesting themes.

One room is furnished with items given by the Herzstein family, including Navajo rugs, household items, art objects, and an old-fashioned tobacco cutter and cheese cutter, from the Herzstein store in Nara Visa. Other items given by the late Albert Herzstein have recently arrived and will be displayed throughout the museum.

Another special collection is the array of figurines, vases, paintings and memorabilia given by the late Franz Dyche, who, when searching for a home for his treasures from around the world, remembered his happy boyhood in Clayton.

Numerous early day photographs, family histories and documents are on display for the visitors’ perusal. The museum staff continually works to compile archives for those seeking information on their relatives and ancestors. Museum docents volunteer their time to keep the museum open weekends and a summer curator is hired through a yearly grant from the Clayton Lodger’s Tax.

The museum is on the State Register of Historic Places. There is no admission charge to the museum or for the monthly Historical Society programs, but donations are always welcome.

About the Herzstein's

The Museum Director

The Museum

Victoria Baker