Thanks to technology, Santa is watching the goings-on at his cozy little namesake museum in Columbus, Texas. There, on display, are several thousand eye-catching likenesses of the jolly old elf lovingly collected from all over the world. Come along and I’ll give you a preview.

A Little Background

This special Christmas season destination opened in 1990 after a delegation of the good people of this Central Texas town (population 3,587) approached the Chief of Christmas Cheer with a proposal. Because it wasn’t practical for all believers to travel to Santa’s home base at the North Pole, would he support their desire to share with the public the immense Santa collection amassed by a local woman?

You could have heard Santa’s enthusiastic reply from here! He characterized the idea as brilliant. Not only was he flattered that a permanent museum would carry his name, but he had heard the buzz about Mary Elizabeth Youens Hopkins’ vast personal Santa collection.

What’s more, Santa got a little misty-eyed. No longer would collectibles paying tribute to his effort to infuse the world with the Christmas spirit each December be packed away gathering cobwebs for 11 months each year. No sir, in Columbus, Texas, Santa Claus could count on this permanent display.  

More good news! A few years after the Santa Claus Museum started, two Columbus couples, Elaine and Merrill Luman, and Neva Lou and Al Hubenak, raised their hands. They, too, had extensive collections to donate. Thus, the clever displays in the homey cottage grew to accommodate these new additions. As we believers know, when it comes to Santa, the more the merrier.

santa's house
Santa got so excited about the Santa Claus Museum in Columbus that he promised to drop by the cottage just down the street from the library the first chance he got.

Come In, Come In

Above the fireplace is a portrait of Mrs. Hopkins whose collection of Santa Claus memorabilia launched the memory-evoking museum.
A paper mache figure made in Germany was a gift that Mrs. Hopkins received on her very first Christmas in 1913. This is thought to be the oldest Santa on display.
Probably of German origin, this early department store Santa has one red eye and one green one.
Youens Hospital, which was just down the road in Weimar, Texas, displayed this fine fellow during the month of December from the mid-1950s through the mid-1970s.
A popular Christmas 1950s attraction at the Priesmeyer Department Store in nearby Garwood, Texas, this merry Santa is virtually life-size. 
Young believers watch in awe as Santa gets his 40 winks and snores a little in his sleep.
German-born American caricaturist and editorial cartoonist Thomas Nest created this early version of Santa Claus based on the description in Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, published in 1823.
Royal Doulton’s exquisite interpretations of Father Christmas are greatly admired by avid ceramics collectors.  
During the 1930s, these rambunctious Santas were manufactured in Japan. 
Don’t let his cool sunglasses fool you; this saxophone-playing Santa also dances up a storm. 

See You There?

I haven’t told you about the Coca-Cola memorabilia and lots of other fun stuff, so come and see it yourself. On Fridays and Saturdays from Dec. 1-17, the Santa Claus Museum, the only one of its kind in the southern U.S., will be open. Drop by 604 Washington Street in Columbus, Texas, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For the first time, the museum will also put out the welcome mat daily from Dec. 19-23 and Dec. 26-30. Admission is free, although donations are gratefully accepted. Santa will be visiting too!

If your Christmas travels won’t reach this endearing South Central Texas destination, visit online at

There’s Great Excitement

The Columbus Santa Claus Museum is expanding! That means when Christmas 2023 rolls around, there will be even more to admire. What was Santa’s reaction to the big news? He’s taking it in stride. After all, Christmas is all about magic and nowhere is that more evident than in Columbus, Texas.

And remember, Santa is watching.

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Elaine Thomas
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