Serving Texans for 60 Years

House Concurrent Resolution 990

Rep. Ryan Guillen
February 27, 2013

WHEREAS, The Texas Historical Commission was first established as the Texas State Historical Survey Committee by the Texas Legislature in 1953 to “lead, coordinate, sponsor projects, and act as a clearinghouse and information center to survey, record, preserve, restore, and mark all phases of Texas history by working with and through the state, regional, and local groups and individuals;” and

WHEREAS, Senate concurrent resolution number 44, approved in 1953, outlines the objectives of the Survey Committee, calling for leadership in the stimulation of such activities as “preservation and designation of historic houses, sites, and landmarks; preservation of important papers, documents and relics that record Texas life; and publication and distribution of materials concerning Texas history;” and

WHEREAS, in 1962 the first marker of the Official Texas Historical Marker Program was placed at Camp Ford in Tyler, and the Eggleston House in Galveston was designated the first Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. Today, there are more than 12 thousand such markers throughout the state; and

WHEREAS, in 1963 the Texas Legislature strengthened the Survey Committee’s work, giving it legal authority to preserve and protect the heritage of Texas, and

WHEREAS, The Texas Legislature next created the State Archeological Program to be led by the Office of the State Archeologist and administered by the Historical Survey Committee; and

WHEREAS, The U.S. Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966 to ensure protection of the nation’s prehistoric and historic resources, and Governor John Conally assigned the Survey Committee as the State Historic Preservation Office to administer the act for Texas; and

WHEREAS, The Legislature passed the Antiquities Code of Texas in 1969 to protect all cultural resources within the public domain of the state, and the associated Texas Antiquities Committee was established to administer this code; and

WHEREAS, It was in 1973 that the Legislature revised the agency’s enabling statute to give it additional protective powers, expand its leadership role and educational responsibilities, and officially changed the name to the Texas Historical Commission; and

WHEREAS, The Texas Historical Commission created the Texas Main Street Program in 1981 to assist communities with downtown revitalization.  Today, it is one of the oldest and largest Main Street programs in the nation, with more than 80 participating communities, 67 of which were recently recognized nationally for their progress. The First Lady of Texas personally visits and welcomes new Main Street Cities into the program each year; and

WHEREAS, in 1995 Texas Historical Commission archeologists discovered the La Salle shipwreck known as the Belle in Matagorda Bay, and a special appropriation of $1.7 million was awarded to the agency to support costs of its recovery. Today, the hull of the ship and many of the artifacts retrieved are being readied for display at the nearby Bullock State History Museum, which will attract visitors worldwide; and

WHEREAS, that same year the duties of the Texas Antiquities Committee were transferred to the Texas Historical Commission; and

WHEREAS, The Texas Legislature granted oversight authority for the Governor’s Mansion to the Texas Historical Commission in 1998, and also created the Texas Preservation Trust Fund to enable the agency to accept donations and grants for the preservation of significant historic properties; and

WHEREAS, also in 1998 the Texas Forts Trail Region was launched in San Angelo, the first of 10 regions in the newly created Texas Heritage Trails Program, a regional tourism initiative of the Texas Historical Commission that has been recognized by the White House for its many accomplishments; and

WHEREAS, the following year the 76th Legislature provided $50 million to the Texas Historical Commission for restoration of historic county courthouses. Today, 83 counties are participating in the award-winning, nationally recognized Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program that has generated nearly 10,000 jobs, $269 million in income, and more than $367 million in gross state product; and

WHEREAS, The Texas Legislature transferred 18 historic sites from Texas Parks and Wildlife to the Texas Historical Commission in 2007, approving a $34 million bond to invest in improvements to the sites. Today, several of those sites have been carefully restored and are attracting heritage tourists, school groups, and other visitors, reflecting a six percent increase in visitation from the previous fiscal year; and

WHEREAS, The Texas Historical Commission last year entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Texas Department of Transportation to initiate the Historic Highways Program, commencing with a Bankhead Highway pilot program, generating interest and tourism to the historic route and adjacent areas, now, therefore be it

RESOLVED, by the House of Representatives that the Texas Historical Commission has demonstrated more than 60 years of invaluable service to the State of Texas, preserving our history, our landmarks, and our legacy for future generations; increasing awareness of the economic impact of preservation in our communities and our state; and drawing national and international attention to the important events, the real places and the real stories, that make Texas the unique and wonderful place that we are so blessed to call home.