The Mansfield Historical Museum and Heritage Center is located in the beautifully restored W.B. McKnight Building, located in downtown Mansfield, Texas. The building is named for Dr. William Burney McKnight, one of Mansfield’s first physicians.
Dr. McKnight was born April 18, 1859, in Winnsboro, Wood County, Texas, the son of William Durham McKnight and Mary Susan Wynne. The McKnights were of Scottish ancestry and had been in America for many generations.The youngest son, Dr. McKnight married Sallie Hodges, the daughter of Mansfield’s first doctor, Duff Green Hodges, M.D. and Hannah Ann Hodges. McKnight was admired both as a physician and a community leader, having been one of the founders of the Mansfield Academy. He was also one of the founders of the Mansfield State Bank and a Royal Arch Mason.Dr. and Mrs. McKnight had five children: Mary, who died in infancy, Dr. William Hodges McKnight, Kate Kidd McKnight Lattimore, Dorothy McKnight Warner and James Stephens McKnight.
Dr. W.B. McKnight purchased the lot on which the building now stands in 1895 and commenced to build the structure. It first appeared on the tax rolls in 1899. The Knights of Pythias were deeded the second floor and held their organizational meetings and dances in the building. Dr. McKnight kept his offices on the mezzanine level of the building
The first floor of the building was used as a pharmacy. Over the years the tenants changed which included grocery stores, telephone operators, apartments and various other businesses. In the mid 80’s the property was willed to the City of Mansfield by the James McKnight estate and the Mansfield Historical Society was allowed to use the mezzanine for their offices.
In 1997 the Historical Society was able to buy the property from the city with the vision of converting it to a historical museum. Planning and fund raising began and with a large grant from the Dalton Family and many fund raisers the renovation was started on the ground floor. After five years of planning, construction and thousands of hours of volunteer work the first floor of the museum was opened on May 4, 2002.
The next phase was to complete the second floor. After more fund raisers and grants from the City of Mansfield the second floor was opened on April 22, 2006.
The McKnight Building, along with the Masonic Lodge across Main Street, serve as anchors to Mansfield’s historic downtown area. Dating to the late 1890s, downtown Mansfield, located on F.M. 157, becoming Main Street in Mansfield, is one of the oldest intact downtown areas in southeast Tarrant County.