On this day in 1889, Liberal Hall, the Waco home of the Religious and Benevolent Association, burned to the ground. The association was chartered by a group of Waco citizens led by James D. Shaw in 1882 "for the worship of God, benevolent and religious works." Membership was drawn from a cross-section of the population of Waco, including lawyer Edward J. Gurley. The association began to publish a monthly magazine called the Independent Pulpit in 1883. Edited by Shaw, the publication served as a forum for many of the members' freethinking views. The introduction of such an association was bitterly opposed by churchmen across Central Texas. B. H. Carroll, a Baptist pastor in Waco, preached a sermon entitled "The Agnostic," in which no attempt was made to veil the animosity felt by many members of the community. J. B. Cranfill, editor of the Gatesville Advance, called the association the "Hell and Damnation Society" and told his readers that Shaw would turn them from the truth. He described the association as an "asylum for erratic thinkers on religious subjects." Due to financial difficulties and the destruction of Liberal Hall the association faded away after 1889.
On this day in 1946, the Dallas Health Museum opened its first exhibit to the public. The museum was founded by a group of doctors, dentists, and lay people "to provide a common channel of enthusiastic effort for all the forces of health in Dallas and the Southwest." Dallas doctors Oscar Marchman and Milford Rouse were among the founders. The museum, which was the first to be devoted entirely to health in the Southwest and the second of its type in the nation, held its first exhibit at the State Fair of Texas. The Dallas Park Department supplied the building for this first exhibit, which borrowed items from area organizations and museums throughout the nation. During this first exhibition, held on October 5-20, 1946, 40,000 visitors attended the displays. On February 1, 1947, the museum opened full-time in a 10,000-square-foot space leased from the Dallas Park Department at Fair Park. In 2003, after several name changes and relocations, the museum is called the Science Place, and consists of a planetarium and a main building hosting exhibits and an IMAX theater.
On this day in 1970, rock singer Janis Joplin died of an accidental overdose of heroin and alcohol. The twenty-seven-year-old native of Port Arthur had embraced the hippie counterculture at the University of Texas at Austin. She developed her musical skills at Kenneth Threadgill's club and other Austin venues. Joplin's four years of meteoric fame began when she joined Big Brother and the Holding Company in California in May 1966. Her bluesy rendering of such songs as Willie Mae Thornton's "Ball and Chain" made her a national star, but her self-destructive manner of living led to her early death.