First Lady's Texas Treasures Award

Since 2009, the Texas First Lady, acting as honorary chair, in partnership with the Texas Historical Commission has honored communities demonstrating a high level of creativity and ingenuity in recognizing and preserving their authentic Texas sense of place.Since 2009, Texas First Lady Anita Perry, acting as honorary chair, in partnership with the Texas Historical Commission has honored communities demonstrating a high level of creativity and ingenuity in recognizing and preserving their authentic Texas sense of place.

Awarded communities express an increasingly strengthened preservation ethic and stewardship through local collaboration and initiatives and serve as an example for others across Texas.

2014 Denton ▪ 2013 Paris ▪ 2012 San Angelo ▪ 2011 Brownsville ▪ 2010 Nacogdoches, San Marcos, Waxahachie ▪ 2009 Castroville, Georgetown, Mount Vernon

Denton, 2014 First Lady's Texas Treasures Award Winner

Over 40 years of sustained local preservation efforts establish Denton as an exemplary model of Texas communities that maintain and celebrate Texas heritage and culture.  As a leading participant in Main Street and Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation programs, Denton successfully completed over 343 rehabilitation projects in the past 26 years, investing more than 76 million dollars in historic preservation to open 350 businesses and create over 5,000 new jobs.  Denton’s historic downtown now boasts a stunning, renovated courthouse that draws increasing numbers of heritage tourists, while small businesses in the historic district enjoy newly thriving commerce.  The City of Denton also reports that over 1,000 residents live in historic lofts, apartments and town homes in and around Denton’s courthouse square, and that residents enjoy immediate access to the shops, restaurants, live music venues, city parks, and business that populate Denton’s downtown. 

In May, Texas First Lady Anita Perry named the City of Denton the 2014 First Lady's Texas Treasures Award recepient, remarking, “Texas Treasures are communities that go the extra mile to discover their roots, teach living history lessons, and create a lasting legacy for future generations.  This award recognizes visionary communities that put in the hard work required to ensure that their hometown is different from the next.  It spotlights communities that lovingly maintain their monuments from the past in order to create a stronger future”. Denton received the First Lady’s Texas Treasures Award in recognition of sustained dedication to preservation, and continues to benefit from thriving downtown commerce and community that preservation initiatives support.    


Download a sample nomination form and guidelines.

What's New

First Lady Anita Perry

First Lady Anita Perry talks about the importance of recognizing communities for their longstanding work to save and enhance their part of Texas heritage and culture.

Community Videos

Each community video, through local voices and sights, tells a little of the preservation journey contributing to this award.

Preserve it – Use it – Sustain it

The First Lady’s Texas Treasures Award recognizes:

  • Historic preservation initiatives that combine several tools and programs offered through the THC and other preservation organizations    
  • Demonstrated civic practices connecting the values and actions of preservation and economic development in Texas
  • Partnerships and programs that foster increased tourism and provide economic benefits
  • Creative, responsible and sustainable community preservation initiatives that highlight the diverse culture and history and showcase historic resources of Texas

The application period for the First Lady’s Texas Treasures Award is now closed. Download the sample application and guidelines.

Awarded communities save and enhance their significant structures, districts, landscapes, and cultural resources making them vital to contemporary city life while realizing social, economic and environmental benefits. Let the examples below inspire a visit to one of these treasures or preservation of a special place in your community, or a nomination for your community.

San Angelo

San Angelo pool complex building undergoing renovationSummertime memories are now being made for new generations of San Angeloans at the Works Progress Administration-built Municipal Pool Complex. A complete renovation retaining the architectural integrity of this Depression Era landmark allowed new restrooms and dressing areas, a lifeguard area, concessions and a café-style sitting area all within the building’s footprint. The decision to keep this historic structure while updating the pool to include a beach entry, spray toys, lap swimming area, large water slides, shaded sitting areas, and a water-saving filtration system has made a big splash for Texas preservation. The 1938 Pueblo revival complex features a two-story hexagonal stone structure flanked by one-story wings. Exposed vigas are symmetrically placed on the upper portion of the wings. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark – 1989 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Drawings of a facade for Brownsville market squareBrownsville Market Square, through its many transformations and uses continues to resound to Brownville’s very heartbeat. The building, with city offices on the second story and open market stalls below opened in 1852 and the square served as the transportation hub and place Brownsville residents bought their fresh foods and other goods through the 1940s. Formerly housing the bus terminal along with current Brownsville Historical Association collections and archives and city offices, big changes are in the making. Work now underway includes restoring the arched openings on the ground level to create a mixed use of vendor stalls, gallery spaces and state-of-the-art- demonstration kitchen and studios. The plan, undertaken in three phases will add experiential components such as cooking and art workshops to the already hearty heritage tourism offerings in Brownsville. The City of Brownsville and the Brownsville Historical Association plan to debut the renovated space early 2013. Check for details LINK.

Mount Vernon

The front of Mount Vernon music hallIt seems like every museum, city office, storefront or restaurant in Mount Vernon occupies a historic building. So it made sense that when a group of four professional musicians forming Mount Vernon Music Association needed a space to call home, a former church in the downtown historic district provided the perfect venue. Revitalizing a building no longer large enough for the church’s congregation, the space now nurtures the musical cultural needs of the area, preserving diverse regional performance heritage and providing high quality live performances, educational concerts and music workshops. Mount Vernon Music is a rich resource for residents and complements this Texas Main Street’s substantial heritage tourism experience with a special music offering unique to Mount Vernon.explore, celebrate and preserve our rich musical heritage from diverse cultures by presenting varied combinations of ensembles, instruments, and ethnic musical traditions.To fill a cultural need for high quality performance of live music in Texas, with an emphasis on the under-served areas of Northeast and East Texas, playing for audiences who might otherwise be unable to experience live concerts due to limitations of health, distance, or economic means.
-- To encourage and develop interest in the creation and sharing of music through the presentation of live performances, educational concerts, and special workshops.
-- To explore, celebrate and preserve our rich musical heritage from diverse cultures by presenting varied combinations of ensembles, instruments, and ethnic musical traditions.
-- To nurture and support a broad base of music lovers, bringing beauty and harmony into the lives of communities both large and small through the performance of great music from the past, present and future.


Train depot in Waxahachie before restorationTrain depot after restorationThe MKT Depot in Waxahachie is making a new debut. Built in 1908, it serviced trains hauling locally grown cotton to markets and local soldiers to and from wars. Passenger service was discontinued in 1964, freight service ended in 1988, and the depot became simply a storage facility. But Waxahachie had a vision that included acquiring the land, right-of-way and finally purchasing the building. In 2008 restoration plans began utilizing funds from the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. Restoration of the MKT Depot was completed in November 2010. Through the efforts of many people, its historical accuracy has remained intact while allowing for a creative new use. And that new use? Boyce Feed and Grain, located just across the street in their historic building, is extending their current business into the depot offering new product lines. This is sure to create a nice synthesis of local shopping and heritage tourism attractions between the historic depot, the feed store and the Farmers Market now housed in the old lumber yard building across Rogers Street from the depot. 

San Marcos

Person installing historic signage at a street corner in San MarcosHistoric District Street Signage says to residents and visitors that preserving the structures and streetscapes contributing to San Marcos’ sense of place is critical. The signage is a result of work between the San Marcos Historic Preservation Commission and city engineers on design and a placement schedule. With seven local historic districts that include both commercial and residential areas, heritage tourists are now encouraged to stay and explore these districts. Districts are designated for architectural significance and integrity, with consideration for vernacular building types that include alterations reflecting the social history of a neighborhood.