Bryan, Texas, (population 72,015) is situated in the heart of the Brazos Valley, between the Navasota and Brazos rivers in east-central Texas. Bryan began as a small-town stop along the expanding railroad system. In 1860, William Joel Bryan, nephew of Stephen F. Austin, sold a single square-mile tract to two railroad directors. This led to the development of a full-fledged city, serving the trade and shipping needs of area farmers. Bryan became the seat of Brazos County in 1866 and incorporated as a municipality in 1872. The agricultural commerce and culture of Bryan led to the 1876 establishment of the Agriculture and Mechanical College, now known as Texas A&M University, directly south of town.
The city of Bryan has implemented a Downtown Improvements Program to improve the quality of buildings in the downtown vicinity. The program was created to restore and preserve the historic fabric and character, in addition to eliminating slum and blight conditions in downtown Bryan. Matching grants are available to building owners to rehabilitate their façades. More than 40 property owners have received a total of $1.2 million of city funding, which has leveraged more than $4 million worth of improvements.
An East Side Historic District was created in the 1980s, and close to 50 Bryan homes and other structures are listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Bryan is also home to the Carnegie Center of Brazos Valley History, housed in the oldest existing Carnegie Library still used as a library in Texas, and the Brazos Valley African American Museum.
Every June, the city of Bryan hosts the Texas Reds, Steak, and Grape Festival. This event ties together the economic past and present of Bryan. Until the 1870s, herds of wild longhorn cattle roamed Brazos County, helping to fuel Bryan’s early growth. Since 1977, the Messina Hof Winery & Resort has helped lead the establishment of the Texas wine industry and is a major contributor to local tourism.
Designated a Preserve America Community in January 2009.