The Santa Claus Museum in Columbus, Texas opened in 1990. The building was donated by Mrs. Laura Ann Rau, founding member of the Columbus Historical Preservation Trust, Inc. (CHPT). The museum currently houses three major collections.
The Hopkins Collection
Mary Elizabeth Youens Hopkins was born in 1913 and was given her first Santa Claus when she was 6 months old. She began actively collecting in the early 1970s and her extensive collection includes Santas made from a variety of materials such as cast iron, china, basket weave, corn shucks, bottle glass, magazines, fabric, dough, and wood.
An almost life-sized Santa Claus, formerly displayed in the Priesmeyer Department Store in Garwood during the 1950s is one of the most popular Santas in her collection. The Hopkins collection features Duncan Royale Santas from around the world, artwork by Norman Rockwell and Thomas Nast, as well as a complete collection of Haddon Sundblom Coca-Cola Santas. Also on display are Mrs. Hopkins’ personal needlepoint pieces, inspired by artwork and magazine covers she’d seen throughout her life.
After her death in January 1990, the Hopkins family donated the entire collection of more than 2,500 pieces to CHPT. It was Mrs. Hopkins’ collection that launched the Santa Claus Museum.
The Luman Collection
Elaine and Merle Luman have been collecting Santas throughout marriage. The Lumans have traveled the world, which is reflected in the Santas they’ve collected over the years. Russian nesting Santas and an Asian interpretation of Santa are highlights in their unique collection. Exquisite needlepoint, handmade by Mrs. Luman, and vintage cooking molds are rare pieces.
The Luman collection consists of a large number of Lladró ceramic Santas as well as many Santas in sleighs, ready to deliver gifts to all of the good boys and girls across the globe. Also included are Santa socks, matchsticks, vintage celluloid, and mechanically-animated Santas.
The Lumans donated their collection to CHPT in 2019, prompting the expansion of the Santa Claus Museum to include a second room.
The Hubenak Collection
Neva Lou and Al Hubenak moved to Columbus after passing through town one spring and falling in love with its charm. Al was a member of the CHPT Board of Directors for eight years and conducted city bus tours and historical site visits for CHPT for 10 years.
The Hubenaks began collecting Santas in the late 1990s. Their enjoyable hobby quickly grew and after 20 years, the Hubenaks amassed a collection of more than 400 Santa figurines, dolls, artwork, and other collectibles. The Hubenaks donated their expansive collection to the Santa Claus Museum in 2019. Along with the Hopkins and Luman collections, it brings joy to all those who seek the Christmas Spirit.