Historic preservation is a vital part of a promising future for large cities, small towns, and even rural environments. Preserving a community’s heritage doesn’t just save a part of the past – it creates new jobs, provides affordable residential and commercial spaces, improves property values and tax base, increases economic development, revitalizes downtown business districts, and is inherently environmentally sustainable. Read more about the economic impact of historic preservation in Texas in a 2015 report (PDF) and corresponding technical analysis (PDF).
But vibrant, sustainable communities that connect to their heritage don’t happen by accident. They happen because the residents and stakeholders make preservation an integral part of their community development and planning.
Effective programs require strong and sustained citizen participation and leadership along with the recognition that heritage conservation goes beyond the stories of community celebrated in a local museum. Successful communities use a variety of tools to leverage their heritage for today’s benefit including local designations or districts, rehabilitation incentives, and utilizing provisions within building codes to accommodate historic properties.
Many of the THC’s programs work in partnership with communities and regions to revitalize historic areas, stimulate tourism, and encourage economic development through the use of preservation strategies, which foster a healthier and more diverse quality of life.
The Texas Main Street Program operates in affiliation with the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. THC staff works on a daily basis with our 90 designated communities to help them reach their downtown revitalization and preservation goals through the framework of the National Main Street Four Point Approach®.
The Certified Local Government Program helps cities and counties develop high standards of preservation to protect important historic properties. Agency staff provides a training and support network for local preservation commissions and we administer federal grants to the participating communities on a competitive basis. The THC administers the program at the state level and the National Park Service is the responsible federal agency.
Enhancing capacity and empowering local level preservation organizations to preserve and protect their cultural and historic resources is the work of the County Historical Commission Outreach Program. County Historical Commissions are mandated by the Texas Local Government Code, and THC staff provides technical assistance to help these volunteer appointees accomplish their goals.
Texas is full of places that value preservation as a core community development tool and have become known destinations for heritage travelers. Heritage Tourism helps to showcase the results of many of the THCs preservation efforts statewide, providing opportunities for travelers to learn about America’s heritage and explore distinct, authentic communities. THC staff and the 10 nonprofit regional organizations that make up the Texas Heritage Trails Program work to forge local tourism partnerships and support the region's attractions by developing its own unique blend of programs and promotions.
The work of successful communities is honored by the THC in a number of ways, including recognition awards for distinguished Main Street cities and County Historical Commissions. The Texas Treasure Business Award recognizes the accomplishments of Texas businesses that have provided employment opportunities and support to the state’s economy for at least 50 years. The First Lady’s Texas Treasures Award honors communities demonstrating a high level of creativity and ingenuity in recognizing and preserving their authentic Texas sense of place.