Harold Matzner’s Tank Pavillion is one of the most famous and well-known spots in the entire state. Located just outside Highland, this 1,300-square-foot attraction is a must see for anyone visiting the area. It’s also home to a fascinating display of World War II tanks and armored vehicles. Harold Matzner opened his pavilion in 1953 and it has been holding this special place in his heart ever since.
Sometime around 1950, Harold purchased two vintage German heavy tanks from a military museum in Thuringia, Germany. These were the “Tiger I” and “Panther.” Because of their age and condition—they were only operational for about six months each during World War II—he decided to sell them at auction rather than scrap them after the war. Luckily for us, Harold made the right decision. The tanks he acquired are now on display at his historic tank pavilion, where they can be seen by visitors every year on Veterans Day weekend (11/11).
What to See and Do Inside Harold Matzner’s Tank Pavillion
Check out the military vehicles on display at Harold Matzner’s Tank Pavilion in California. Visitors can drive a variety of World War II tanks and armored vehicles at the pavilion, including the Tiger I, Panther, and more. The living history museum on the grounds of the pavilion also offers a fascinating look at everyday life during World War II, with exhibits focused on farmers, housewives, and Union and Confederate soldiers.
A History of Harold Matzner’s Tank Pavilion
The history of Harold Matzner’s Tank Pavilion goes back to the late 1920s, when the retired US Army pilot purchased a piece of land along the banks of the Arbuckle River in Highland, Texas. Matzner had built a small aircraft repair facility on the property and planned to use it as a vacation home. However, he was soon hooked on vintage car restoration, and he soon began collecting vintage military vehicles, including tanks and artillery pieces. In the late 1940s, Matzner began developing plans to turn the property into a World War II military museum. It was to be called the Matzner Military Museum, after Matzner’s first name. However, the name was later changed to the Tank Pavilion of the South, in honor of its location just outside Highland, Texas. You can read more about the Tank Pavillion at generalpattonmuseum.com/exhibits/matzner-tank-pavilion.
Future Expansion Plans for the Pavilion
Harold Matzner’s Tank Pavilion continues to be a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by all fighting men and women during World War II. The size of the facility has been increased several times over the years, but the final design was chosen because it met military standards for adequate space and stability. Currently, the Tank Pavilion of the South is closed for renovations, but it will be open again in 2020, when it hosts the Bicentennial. The renovation is expected to cost about $2 million, and will include relocating the gift shop and parking lot.
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the town of Texas on Veterans Day weekend, you shouldn’t miss out on any of the events and activities at Harold Matzner’s Tank Pavillion. The pavilion is the perfect place to relax after a long day of exploring the city. You can relax in one of the luxurious guest suites, take a walk on the beach, or have lunch at one of the many available eateries.