History lover Norris now riding the rails of the Lehnis Railway Museum

STEVE NASH steve.nash@brownwoodbulletin.com
Beverly Norris is excited to promote the Lehnis Railroad Museum and to promote her hometown of Brownwood. Norris was recently named director of the museum.

Beverly Norris doesn't think she'll ever lose the sense of awe she's felt for the past couple of weeks when she's walked up to the Lehnis Railroad Museum in Brownwood.

Norris was recently named by Brownwood city officials as the new director of the nearly seven-year-old museum, replacing former director Kim Peterson. Peterson resigned to become manager of Heartland Mall.

Until taking her new job, Norris, who is married to Larry Norris, had served as president of the Brown County Museum of History board. She counted Saturday, June 7, as her first day on the job, although she'd already been in and out a few times in the previous week.

"Oh, I love it," Norris said of the railroad museum. "I'm very excited."

Norris recalled a recent occasion when she'd walked up to the museum's entrance. "Approaching the building, it struck me what an amazing building this is," Norris said.

A museum lover and self-described "lifelong museum-goer," Norris had visited the railroad museum in previous years. "I tremendously admired the building, and I admired the collection," Norris said. She's proud to be in a position to promote the facility both as a museum and as an event center.

The museum has hosted events including birthday parties, weddings, proms, business meetings, retirement parties and memorials.

Norris grew up in Brownwood and lived in Saint Louis, Mo., for more than 20 years. She earned a degree in marketing from the University of Missouri, and worked as a residential and commercial interior decorator.

Norris decided to move back to Brownwood in 2001 because she missed Texas. She "fell in love" with the Brown County Museum of History, began serving on its board and served as board president for three years.

Norris applied for the Lehnis Railroad Museum job as soon as the job was posted. Promoting the museum, Norris said, means promoting Brownwood. "I love small towns and what they offer in the quality of life," she said.

She said the museum showcases the history of trains in Brownwood and contains "an amazing collection of model trains" as well as the mini-railroad train.

History is important, Norris said, because "so much of what we are today is about our history." She sees the museum as a "springboard into learning" and also as a venue that teaches the values of the past.

Norris said she's excited about children who visit the museum and looks forward to seeing the "spark of interest" that may propel them into science or engineering.

She said she wants to continue her predecessors' good work at the museum and hopes the museum will be a location for students' field trips. Norris wants to museum experience to add to children's education.

Norris also hopes to build up the number of volunteers at the museum. There is plenty for volunteers to do, Norris said, including greeting visitors, giving tours and running the model and mini-trains.

"I do feel just very personally excited for what this beautiful facility and collection mean to the area," Norris said.