To preserve historic and cultural resources, we must first know they exist. Architectural and archeological surveys identify significant properties in neighborhoods, communities, and entire counties. Published inventories of such sites can be indispensable in raising a community's awareness of its cultural heritage and in its planning efforts. The most important resources identified through surveys have potential for state and national landmark designation. Moreover, the information and photographs generated by a survey create an irreplaceable record of the present state of that heritage.
THC’s target survey and inventory increase
THC Survey Photo Files
The Texas Historical Commission partnered with the University of North Texas to scan the black-and-white photographs in the THC Survey Library that were taken by THC staff in the 1970-80s. These are now available through the Portal to Texas History website at THC Historic Resources Survey Collection and include over 25,000 images.
Other THC photograph collections available through the Portal to Texas History:
African American Travel Guide Survey Project
Back in the day of the modern Jim Crow era, African Americans endured discriminatory hazards while traveling around the country. To circumnavigate these unwelcome situations, they used various travel guides to locate places where they could purchase gas, get a hair cut, buy a meal, sleep for the night, or enjoy some entertainment. These travel guides were published from the early 1930s up to the late 1960s. Probably the most well-known one is The Negro Motorist Green Book, or more commonly known as the Green Book. This guide was first published by New York postal worker Victor Hugo Green in 1936, initially just listing places in the New York area, but eventually expanding to cover the United States and overseas. For more on this project, go to the African American Travel Guide Survey Project.
The Texas Historical Commission's Survey Program is currently researching and documenting these resources across the state. Many of these resources no longer exist, but their stories are waiting to be told. If you are interested in this project and would like to assist in the research, please contact the Historic Resources Survey Coordinator, Leslie Wolfenden.
What is a Historic Resources Survey?
A Historic Resources Survey is a systematic method of documenting historic resources through fieldwork and research. Each historic resource is documented with photographs, maps, and a written description on a form. Undertaking a survey to identify historic resources acknowledges that these resources have value to the community and future generations. Historic resources provide character, continuity and a sense of uniqueness to the community. Survey is fundamental to historic preservation because it results in the identification of historic resources, helps determine which of those resources should be preserved and can be essential in shaping local ordinances, guidelines or downtown master plans to protect these resources. The purpose of completing a local survey is to gather the information needed to plan for the wise use of a community’s resources.
Historic resources are districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture.
THC Historic Resources Survey Packet
THC staff created a free Historic Resources Survey Packet that is available to anyone interested in conducting a historic resources survey. The Packet includes all of the presentations and documents listed on the Useful Survey Tools webpage in addition to the THC-designed Access database survey template. The Packet is available for download upon request.
To request access to the downloadable Packet file, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why conduct a Historic Resources Survey?
- Allows for the identification and understanding of properties that are historically significant
- Assists the community in making informed policy decisions
- Stimulates public awareness of a community’s historic resources
- Essential if a community plans to pursue historical designations under local ordinances
- Helps local preservation advocates, land-use planners, economic development coordinators and tourism promoters
- Expedite environmental review by governmental agencies
- Provides a basis for preservation and planning at all levels of government and for individual groups or citizens
- Helps identify historic resources in anticipation of projects that may involve building demolition and land disturbance
- Identifies those properties with limited or no historical significance where redevelopment can easily take place
- Documents properties representing a style, period, construction type or historic theme
- Encourages participation by community members
- Promotes research and awareness of the community’s history and resources
It can lead to further preservation projects, such as:
- National Register of Historic Places nominations (individual or district)
- Provides national recognition of property's historical or architectural significance
- Eligible for state and federal tax credits worth up to 45% of the rehabilitation costs
- Listing of a downtown simplifies and expedites the access to tax credits for future projects, especially for smaller projects or buildings
- Design standards/guidelines to protect the historic character of the district
- Local historic districts
- Architectural walking tours
- Videos and brochures on historical topics