The new Tela Museum is all about the rich banana republic heritage of Tela and Honduras. Tela was the headquarters of the Tela Railroad Company, which was a subsidiary of the United Fruit Company between 1914 and 1977, when they moved to La Lima, just outside of San Pedro Sula. Ever since my first visit to Tela, many years ago, the old accounting building caught my eye. How could a lovely, historic building in such a prime location be abandoned? I learned that this was the accounting headquarters. The old railroad used to stop on the south side of the building, and from there, it would depart with the salaries of all the employees the banana company had working for them. It would stop at the different banana fields in Atlantida, Yoro and Cortes, throughout the huge extensions of land that the company controlled.
It was the financial headquarters for the company until 1977, when the headquarters moved. After this, all the assets that the company had were abandoned, and the city of Tela fell into a deep slumber. Eventually it woke up and found a new life as a tourist destination. The old residential complex became Villas Telamar, and thus, the first beach resort in the Honduras was born! But it took over 30 years before someone had the initiative of recuperating the old accounting building. Mayor Mario Fuentes had the vision to bring the old building back to life. It was a campaign promise that he saw through. Thus, the old accounting building got a new lease on life! Today it proudly houses the new Tela Museum!
The first floor is home to the new Tela Museum. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday and is under the management of the local town government. The Tela Museum houses a series of artifacts that date from the old glory days of the railroad. It has deep ties to the banana plantations that once made Honduras the Worlds largest producer and exporter of bananas. Unfortunately, the collection lacks proper museum exhibits and logic, but does provide a window to the past glory of Tela. You will have a better understanding of the banana heritage of Honduras after you visit the Tela Museum. The second story is used as a ballroom for events. And the large terrace on the third story offers magnificent views of the old dock and Caribbean Sea. I imagine how the banana ships could be seen at the dock from this vantage point!
Make sure that you include a visit to the Tela Museum as an activity during your next visit to Tela. Entrance is free, and they are normally open in the afternoon, from 1 to 9 pm. This means you can enjoy the beach in the morning and then visit in the afternoon. Make sure you visit the terrace to get a view of the Caribbean! It is fortunate that this old Art Deco building has been restored. It is an important part of the architectural heritage of Tela.