From 2009 - 2014, former Texas First Lady Anita Perry, acting as honorary chair, in partnership with the Texas Historical Commission honored communities demonstrating a high level of creativity and ingenuity in recognizing and preserving their authentic Texas sense of place.
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. Their strong preservation ethic, along with stewardship through local collaboration and initiatives, serve as an example for others across Texas.
Let the examples below inspire a visit to one of these treasures or preservation of a special place in your community.
Stand on the grounds of the first battle of the Mexican American War and the last land battle of the Civil War, then follow frontier history through World War I at Fort Brown. Architectural treasures include the only Richard Neutra-designed International Style home in Texas and buildings mixed with Spanish, Mexican, and New Orleans influences throughout three historic districts. Cemeteries, museums and Market Square tours unfold fascinating local and statewide stories of Brownsville’s heritage.
Where else can you walk the streets of an Alsatian village in Texas? This small town is full of the original commercial and residential stucco structures built close to the street in the European style familiar to the 1844 French settlers. Castroville’s unique scale and rhythm will dissolve your big city stress while you enjoy a walking tour, dine on Alsatian cuisine, and overnight at the historic 1860 Landmark Inn.
Originally constructed in 1896, Denton's renovated historic courthouse elegantly expresses the community's dedication to historic preservation. The City of Denton carried out over 340 revitalization projects in and around the courthouse square over the past 26 years, resulting in one of Texas' largest and most prestine historic downtowns. As Denton's population continues to expand at the incredible rate of 41%, many residents choose to live in downtown historic homes, apartments, and lofts, benefiting from Denton's sustained investment in community heritage development. Visitors to Denton will enjoy the walkable city center, a wide array of shops and restaurants, and the exceptional Denton County African American Museum.
Victorian commercial buildings anchored by the more modern Beaux Arts style Williamson County Courthouse provide the setting. Shops, restaurants and museums will keep you busy. In this sophisticated and historic square, take a moment to conjure up a time, before the present courthouse, when the smells, noises, and traffic were determined by the hoof and spur, and stepping off the boardwalk meant deep trouble for any footwear. That was the Georgetown streetscape during the colorful cattle drive period of the 1870s–80s. Learn all about local history at the Williamson Museum on the square. Free tours Friday and Saturday.
Pause to soak up a turn-of-the-century main street moment in Mount Vernon. It’s all there from the courthouse, depot, jail, churches, firehouse, neighborhoods and commercial buildings to the remnants of Texas’ first paved road, the Bankhead Highway. Every building has a story to tell and a modern experience to offer as you make your way through museums, art galleries, shops, and restaurants in diverse historic venues. Walk in and your are quickly engaged with the a contemporary culture in touch with its historic roots.
Walk in the footsteps of the Caddo, Mexican Empresarios, Texas Revolutionaries, and African American religious leaders. Whether on a historic trail or early auto highway, travelers have been drawn to Nacogdoches since the Spanish established El Camino Real de los Tejas in the 1600s. Today, the historic red brick streets host the Blueberry Festival, parades, outdoor concerts, farmer’s markets, and modern art and historic sites celebrating the diverse heritage and culture of Nacogdoches.
When the 1916 fire completely destroyed Paris’s commercial district, the people rebuilt their town to what is now the largest collection of period 1916-1918 buildings in the nation listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That community spirit and Paris’ special buildings can be experienced in vibrant Plaza Square where Culberson Fountain graces the center of the downtown, in the restored Lamar County Courthouse, with living history at the Sam Bell Maxey House and on a trolley ride through two historic districts that play host to numerous restaurants, shops, churches, and restored lofts. Paris invites cyclists to ‘re-cycle” on miles of former railroad line now part of a rail-to-trail project that will connect Paris’s with other historic destinations.
San Angelo is known for spectacular frontier era Fort Concho and the many events special events hosted there. Just a few steps away are the Railway Museum in the restored Santa Fe Depot, Depression period Municipal Pool Complex, nationally recognized San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts and a plethora of working art studios. Walk or drive just across the Concho River to the Main Street historic district including landmarks Tom Green County Courthouse and a newly renovated City Hall and opulent City Auditorium.
Possessing seven distinct historic districts, San Marcos offers visitors as many fun ways to explore them. Swing your honey around the square during the springtime Texas Swing Festival. Aquarena Center continues to offer glass bottom boat tours of the animal and plant life living in Spring Lake, a tradition since the 1940s. The Beaux Arts style Hayes County Courthouse looms over a thriving square of entertainment including the LBJ Museum. Discover heritage stories at the Calaboose Museum of African American History or partake in the 20 plus-year Friday tradition of luncheon at Cottage Kitchen hosted by the Heritage Association Guild.
Known for the legendary historic districts filled with Victorian "gingerbread" and accessible through driving and annual home tours, there are several must-sees in Waxahachie. Visit the only Chautauqua auditorium in Texas, still an active lecture, old time singing and performance venue. Only a brush or pastel will be allowed at the annual artist “quick draw" on the lawn of the awe inspiring and beautifully restored Ellis County Courthouse. Wander down to the tracks to appreciate the restored depot, Farmer’s market and historic local feed store now a surprising shopping destination.