Agency Timeline

Important Dates for the Texas Historical Commission

1876   Texas State Constitution authorized the Texas Legislature to “make appropriations for preserving and perpetuating memorials of the history of Texas.”

1933–40   Organizers of the state’s centennial celebration cooperated with federal New Deal programs to restore historic buildings and erect markers around the state.

1953   The legislature created the Texas State Historical Survey Committee to oversee state historical programs.

1955   George W. Hill became the first executive director of the organization.

1956   County historical survey committees were created to carry out preservation work at the local level in Texas.

1962   The first marker of the Official Texas Historical Marker Program was placed at Camp Ford in Tyler.

The Eggleston House in Gonzales was designated the first Recorded Texas Historic Landmark (RTHL).

The first issue of The Medallion was published.

1963   The legislature expanded the mandate of the Survey Committee with legal authority to preserve and protect the heritage of Texas.

1965   Truett Latimer became the second executive director of the organization.

1966   The U.S. Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act to ensure protection of the nation’s prehistoric and historic resources, and the governor assigned the Survey Committee to administer provisions of the act for Texas.

1969   The legislature passed the Antiquities Code of Texas to protect all cultural resources, historic and prehistoric, within the public domain of the state, and the Texas Antiquities Committee was established as the sister agency to the Survey Committee to administer this code.

The Office of the State Archeologist was transferred to the Survey Committee to establish a statewide archeological program.

The legislature granted the endangered 1856 Carrington-Covert House, 1883 Gethsemane Lutheran Church, and 1940 Luther Hall to the Survey Committee, and all three buildings were renovated to house agency offices.

1971   The legislature granted the Bonham home of Sam Rayburn to the Survey Committee to preserve and manage as a public museum.

1973   The legislature revised the agency’s enabling statute to give it additional protective powers, expand its leadership role and educational responsibilities, and officially changed its name to the Texas Historical Commission (THC).

1980   An amendment to the National Historic Preservation Act created the Certified Local Government Program, administered by the THC for the State of Texas.

1981   The THC created the Texas Main Street Program, affiliated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to assist communities with downtown revitalization.

Curtis Tunnell became the third executive director of the Texas Historical Commission.

1984   The Texas Archeological Stewardship Network, a statewide group of volunteer avocational archeologists, was created to help the Texas Historical Commission’s small staff of archeologists with the preservation of the state’s archeological resources.

1986   The THC was instrumental in the state’s celebration of Texas’ Sesquicentennial.

1989   The legislature granted oversight authority for the Governor’s Mansion to the THC.

El Paso is designated as the first Certified Local Government in Texas.

The legislature created the Texas Preservation Trust Fund to enable the THC to accept donations and grants for the preservation of significant historic properties and sites.

The THC initiated the Los Caminos del Rio Heritage Project, a bi-national heritage tourism and conservation program.

1991   The Galveston Historical Foundation was the first recipient of the THC's most prestigious award, the Governor's Award for Historic Preservation. Gov. Ann Richards presented the award in a State Capitol ceremony.

1994–95   The legislature awarded $2.5 million in Intermodal Surface Transportation Enhancement Act (ISTEA) funding to the THC for special agency projects such as the Texas Historic Sites Atlas, marker survey and repair, and Texas courthouse projects.

1995   THC archeologists discovered the La Salle shipwreck off the Texas coast and a special appropriation of $1.7 million was awarded to the agency to support costs of the shipwreck recovery. Private sector donations for the project totaled an additional $2.3 million.

Historic Texas courthouses were documented by the Texas Courthouse Alliance.

1996   The Friends of the Texas Historical Commission was incorporated by the State of Texas to help meet the need for private, charitable funds designated to preserve the state's heritage.

The Texas Historical Commission launched its first website.

1997   An electrical fire at the Sam Rayburn House Museum, the only historic structure administered by the THC outside of Austin at that time, caused extensive structural and smoke damage.

The 75th Legislature provided funding for the THC to implement a cemetery preservation program.

1998   The Texas Forts Trail Region was launched in San Angelo, the first of 10 regions in the new Texas Heritage Trails Program, a regional tourism initiative of the THC.

The Texas Historic Sites Atlas was launched. The online database contains more than 320,000 records on historic Texas properties.

1999   The 76th Texas Legislature provided $50 million to the THC for restoration of historic county courthouses.

F. Lawerence Oaks became the fourth director of the Texas Historical Commission after Curtis Tunnell's retirement.

2001   The Historic Texas Lands Plaque Program was initiated to recognize landowners who preserve archeological sites on their property.

Shackelford County rededicated its courthouse as the first completed restoration in the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program.

The volunteer Texas Archeological Stewardship Network was expanded to include marine stewards.

2002   The THC received $4.3 million from the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) through the Texas Department of Transportation to continue the Texas Heritage Trails Program.

2004   First Lady Laura Bush announced the launch of the Preserve America Program and the city of Castroville was one of the first communities to be designated.

A human skeleton from the Belle, La Salle’s 17th-century ship, was buried in the Texas State Cemetery.

2005   President George W. Bush awarded the Texas Heritage Trails Program the Preserve America Presidential Award.

The 79th Legislature earmarked $80 million of federal Transportation Enhancement Program funding for county courthouse preservation.

The National Museum of the Pacific War was transferred to the THC from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and an agreement to manage the site was developed with the Admiral Nimitz Foundation.

2007   The Texas Legislature transferred 18 state historic sites from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to the THC and approved a $34 million bond to invest in improvements to the historic sites.

2008   The THC mobilized services to Galveston and other Gulf communities impacted by Hurricane Ike.

President George W. Bush awarded the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program the Preserve America Presidential Award.

2009    Mark Wolfe became the fifth THC executive director when F. Lawerence Oaks retired.

The Texas Legislature created a State Historic Highways Program and a Bankhead Highway Program for the THC and Texas Department of Transportation to develop in partnership.

Restoration and improvement projects began at state historic sites managed by the THC.

The Texas Legislature created the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission and assigned it administratively to the THC.

2010   The THC received a $1 million appropriation of federal stimulus money to enable the restoration of the Presidio San Saba in Menard.

The THC launched the Texas Hill Country Region travel brochure, the final brochure in a series of 10 heritage trail regions, and revised African Americans in Texas: Historical and Cultural Legacies as part of the THC’s heritage tourism and education efforts.

2011  The 82nd Texas Legislature reduced the budget of the THC by 50 percent, resulting in the loss of 47 staff positions.

The Texas Preservation Trust Fund grants, small museum support grants, and heritage tourism partnership grants are suspended as a result of budget cuts.

The THC published Preservation Connection: Texas’ Statewide Preservation Plan, an interactive web-based plan that includes the vision, goals, and outcomes for historic preservation in Texas.

The Texas Time Travel website was launched to support heritage tourism in Texas.

2012   The agency completed 44 capital projects at state historic sites, including restoration and maintenance of historic buildings, new or improved visitor centers and maintenance facilities, and interpretive exhibits.

The Tejano Monument on the Capitol Grounds was completed and unveiled.

The agency entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Texas Department of Transportation to initiate the Historic Highways program.

2013   The Texas Historical Commission launched its latest website, the fourth for the agency. It includes integration of social media and opportunities for user feedback and online donations to the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission.

April 2015 The agency launched its first mobile app: African Americans in Texas.