THC Recognizes Historic Preservation Leaders at Real Places 2019 Conference

The Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) recent Real Places 2019 conference brought together hundreds of individuals and organizations dedicated to protecting and preserving Texas’ historic places and the stories they tell. During the conference, the agency honored 11 worthy recipients for accomplishments and exemplary leadership in the preservation of Texas’ heritage.

The Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation was presented to the Texas Heritage Trail Regions Boards of Directors.In the past 20 years, these volunteers have raised a combined $8 million in cash and in-kind contributions and logged more than 110,000 volunteer hours to foster heritage travel and economic investment in Texas communities. 

The Ruth Lester Lifetime Achievement Award went to Steven and Susan Klinewho have made substantial contributions to historic preservation in Texas, particularly in the Fort Worth area. Susan is responsible for more than 40 National Register listings in Texas, while Steve facilitated more than 20 individual National Register nominations.

Geri Burnettreceived the John Ben Shepperd County Historical Commission Leadership Award. Burnett’s work as chair of the Milam County Historical Commission has resulted in significant accomplishments, including the Camino Real de los Tejas Symposium which drew more than 500 people from across Texas.

Comal County’s Karen Boyd won the George Christian Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award. Boyd helped prepare five historical marker applications, organized an event to celebrate New Braunfels’ 175th anniversary, and led a project to revitalize a historic site at the headwaters of the Comal River. 

The John L. Nau, III Award for Excellence in Museums was presented to Frontier Texas!, which opened in 2004 in downtown Abilene.The museum serves as the visitors center for the Texas Forts Trail Region and the city, and its exhibits help people experience Texas’ historic frontier through holographic technology.

Bill Birmingham of Victoria received the Curtis D. Tunnell Lifetime Achievement Award in Archeology. An Archeological Steward for the THC, Birmingham has been an active archeologist in Texas for more than 50 years.He has donated artifacts to the Museum of the Coastal Bend from more than 70 archeological sites.

The Anice B. Read Award of Excellence in Community Heritage Development was presented to Beth Duke, who has served as Amarillo’s Center City Main Street Program executive director since 2005.Duke’sadvocacy and commitment to Main Street has contributed to an almost $100 million increase in property values for downtown Amarillo. 

The Award of Excellence in Preserving History went to Our Austin Storya collaborative project developed by Downtown Austin Alliance, FERMATA, Inc., and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department. The project helps visitors and residents better understand present-day Austin by acknowledging and embracing the city’s past.

Merriman Anderson/Architects received the Award of Excellence in Historic Architecture. The firm has created a significant body of preservation work and expertise through the federal and state historic tax credit programs and has completed adaptive re-use projects on many iconic buildings in downtown Dallas, including the 1956 Statler Hilton and 1907 Dallas High School. 

The Award of Excellence in Media Achievement was presented for the project “300th Anniversary of Béjar: Historical GIS Story Maps,” a collaboration by Bexar County’s Heritage & Parks and Information Technology Departments and the University of Texas at San Antonio’s History Department and Center for Archaeological Research. The project tells the story of Béjar’s anniversary by focusing on the region’s earliest inhabitants until 1820, when Spanish rule ended. 

The 2019 Texas Courthouse Stewardship Award—designed to recognize counties that have established good stewardship practice to maintain their courthouses in restored condition—was presented at a special ceremony to the Shackelford County Courthouse. Notable for being the first restored courthouse in the THC’s Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program, the building in Albany dates to 1884 and features an impressive Second Empire-style tower, detailed cornice brackets, and sturdy limestone from a nearby quarry. Shackelford County representatives were honored for their dedication to maintaining the work performed during the initial 2001 preservation project, which restored the district courtroom, corridors, and 15 office spaces by adding new features (an ADA ramp and elevator) along with reproduced historic features such as the ornate entry doors, pressed metal and beadboard ceilings, and wood windows. In 2018, the county completed significant maintenance on the building, including exterior repainting and repairs.  

The THC’s Real Places 2019 was presented by the Friends of the THC and title sponsors Phoenix 1 Restoration and Construction and Komatsu Architecture along with many other sponsors and partners. Featured speakers included Gene Kranz, legendary leader of the flight team that brought Apollo 13 safely home, noted museum expert Colleen Dilenschneider, bestselling author and speaker Nina Simon, and author and TV personality Brent Hull.