County Historical Commissions (CHC) manage a variety of educational opportunities, preservation work days, and heritage celebrations that contribute to Texas' Statewide Preservation Plan. The CHC Outreach Program honors these collaborative preservation efforts that make the most out of local and regional partnerships. Our sincere thanks to those who implement preservation programs, as well as, those who attend and participate!
CHC flashback to 2010! Texas' Statewide Preservation Plan public forums were held across the state--8 in total. Clockwise from top, left corner: meetings in Canyon, Canton, Brownsville, and Beaumont featured here. Recognize any CHC appointees? Lawrence Greer discusses Van Zandt CHC priorities in Canton. Larry Lof provides a presentation on Cameron CHC preservation efforts in Brownsville. Barbara Wooten represents the Houston CHC in Beaumont. CHCs worked with organizations and individuals across Texas to set Statewide Plan goals. Today, CHCs continue to contribute to those goals and promote preservation in local communities!
Goal 1: Survey and Online Inventory of Texas’ Statewide Preservation Plan aims for Texans to undertake a comprehensive survey of the state’s diverse historic and cultural resources resulting in a publicly accessible online inventory. Although CHCs were established to conduct countywide surveys, very few counties have an updated countywide survey. Travis County is one of the few, having updated their survey using professional preservation consultants and volunteers. Pictured are Greg Smith (THC), Barry Hutcheson (Travis CHC), and Sunny Howard providing a How-To-Survey workshop to teach volunteers about this important preservation tool.
Goal 2: Emphasize Cultural Landscapes of Texas’ Statewide Preservation Plan involves actively identifying, protecting, and interpreting cultural landscapes. CHCs tend to gravitate toward cemeteries when pursuing preservation projects involving cultural landscapes. Liberty CHC has dedicated time, labor, and money to protect the endangered historic Branch Cemetery. The CHC worked with the county, city, and heirs of the interred to secure ownership, plan for restoration, and envision its future use as a historic cemetery/park. Images above show state of the neglected cemetery and CHC appointees using ground penetrating radar, which identified more than 10 unmarked graves. Photos courtesy of Liberty CHC.
Goal 3: Implement Policies and Incentives of Texas’ Statewide Preservation Plan encourages preservationists to work with communities, governments, and tribes to implement policies and incentives to protect historic and cultural assets. This goal is illustrated by Webb CHC efforts to save St. Peter’s Plaza. Discussions about the future of this historic plaza included the following groups: St. Peter’s Neighborhood Association, city staff, and the local landmark board. As a result, the 2017 City of Laredo Comprehensive Plan addresses downtown and inner city revitalization, historic preservation, and a Historic Plazas Master Plan.
Goal 4: Leverage Economic Development Tools for Preservation of Texas’ Statewide Preservation Plan encourages preservationists to help communities leverage preservation-based and traditional economic development tools to revitalize historic areas. Lamar CHC, in collaboration with the Paris Main Street Program, created a large database for information about the historic properties available for purchase. This partnership and data enabled participation in THC’s Town Square Initiative –– DowntownTX.org –– an online building inventory that highlights historic property investment opportunities in Texas downtowns.
Goal 5: Learn and Experience History through Place of Texas’ Statewide Preservation Plan involves Texas residents and guests of all ages learning and experiencing Texas' diverse history through formal education, recreation, and everyday interactions with historic places. This goal is illustrated by Atascosa CHC and Medina CHC co-hosting the Battle of Medina History Symposium, which discusses the battle, it’s context in Texas history, and the contribution of Tejanos and Native Americans during the battle. Held near the original battle site, the morning program features reenactors firing a volley, followed by an afternoon of presentations from notable historians and history exhibits. Participants represent a wide range of individuals and organizations from Texas and Louisiana. Photo courtesy of Atascosa CHC.
Goal 6: Connect Preservation to Related Fields of Texas’ Statewide Preservation Plan is illustrated by Franklin CHC when appointees worked with state leadership of the Native Prairies of Texas Association to coordinate an event for its Dallas/Fort Worth chapter and the Texas Historic Tree Coalition. Participants traveled by bus on abandoned road beds through wildflowers and prairieland discussing the lay of the land, the development of farming, sharecropping, and early settlement patterns. The group then traveled to Mt. Vernon to tour downtown sites and enjoy the local hospitality. The CHC was able to connect and integrate preservation into related fields and activities, building a broader, stronger, and more diverse appreciation for local history. Photos courtesy of Franklin CHC.
Goal 6: Connect Preservation to Related Fields. Comal CHC was asked to review the Cultural Resource Survey for the Headwaters of the Comal project. Owned by the New Braunfels Utilities (NBU), the Comal River headwaters––along with several springs and wells––were used at one time as the city’s drinking water. Project’s mission statement follows: Situated on the banks of the Comal Springs and Blieders Creek, the Headwaters at the Comal will highlight the hydrological, environmental, and cultural history of the region and will be a living demonstration of sustainable practices for the local community and nation. Property’s WPA structures will be preserved; county and CHC are working to ensure protection of this site Photos courtesy of Comal CHC.
Goal 7: Cultivate Political Commitment of Texas’ Statewide Preservation Plan deals with cultivating political commitment for historic preservation at the state and local level. Substantial contributions to this goal were made by the Tarrant CHC, which approached county officials to recommend that the county have its own Historic Preservation Officer (HPO). As a result, Tarrant County Commissioners Court recently appointed a Tarrant County Historic Preservation and Archives Officer, who expanded the county Certified Local Government Committee to include members from the local historical community, county, and CHC. Members voted to pursue historical designations for eligible properties and will work with neighboring HPOs to work toward maintaining and updating a survey of historic resources for the unincorporated areas of the county. Photo of Will Rogers Memorial in Fort Worth, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.
Goal 8: Build Capacity of Preservation Community of Texas’ Statewide Preservation Plan reminds the existing preservation community to develop its organizational capacity to strengthen and expand preservation skills. An example of this type of effort occurred after the Museum of the Gulf Coast suffered damage during Tropical Storm Harvey. The curator––a Jefferson CHC appointee and the County Historic Preservation Officer––volunteered her services to help preserve over 4,000 photographs and books, one of which dated back to 1880. Because the region’s ongoing need, the Jefferson CHC is planning a regional disaster preparedness workshop on preserving local historical documents and photographs. Photos courtesy of Jefferson CHC.
Goal 8: Build Capacity of Preservation Community is demonstrated when preservation organizations congregate to share information. Montgomery CHC hosted a CHC regional meeting in Conroe that included representatives from the following CHCs: Chambers, Comal, Fort Bend, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, Polk, San Jacinto, Walker, and Waller. Meeting agenda here.
Learn more about CHC accomplishments by visiting the CHC Annual Reporting webpage. This page hosts web links to reporting summaries and additional CHC project descriptions.