About the Herzstein Memorial Museum


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, 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, , the Dust Bowl, dinosaurs, family memorabilia and many other interesting themes.

Victoria Baker, Museum Director

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.

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.

The museum hosts numerous events such as meetings, weddings, reunions, showers, etc. Many events are held throughout the year as fund raisers and just fun community events such as Cinco de Mayo, Oktoberfest, Chinese New Year, and Canvas and Cocktails just to name a few. There is never an admission charge to tour the museum. Guided tours are available or you can just wander through at your own pace.

The museum also has a wonderful gift shop that is not just for out of town visitors. The “locals” also enjoy shopping in the gift shop. We have a great selection of unique clothing, jewelry and home décor items. Many are handmade be local artists. There is also a large selection of books, new and used to choose from.

Albert & Ethel Herzstein

Albert Herzstein

Albert Herzstein was born in 1907 in Trinidad, 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.