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THF Staff Attends September Preservation Texas Summits

This past month, Preservation Texas held its second and third regional preservation summits of the year in Tyler and San Marcos, respectively, and THF staff attended both. The well-attended events highlighted preservation work in the northeastern and central parts of the state.

The Northeast Texas Regional Preservation Summit was held at the Tyler Rose Garden Center & Rose Museum. Topics of the summit included a fascinating discussion about documenting and preserving abandoned historic cemeteries and working with the public to ensure that the historic materials and contexts found within these sites are not lost forever to time or misguided cleaning efforts. Other topics included listing historic downtowns on the National Register of Historic Places, grassroots preservation advocacy, and historic rehabilitation project management.

The Central Texas Preservation Summit was held at the Dunbar Recreation Center on the site of the former Dunbar School which was moved to the site in 1918. The school served the African American community of San Marcos until integration in the 1960s. All that remains is one small outbuilding; however, the design of the Dunbar Recreation Center was patterned after the school which sat on the site.

The day was full of interesting presentations on a variety of preservation topics and preservation work in the region. The first was a presentation on the origins of the Dunbar neighborhood and the school. The City of San Antonio followed and showcased their work in historic neighborhoods and how policies and incentives can help support diverse historic neighborhoods facing development pressure. Taylor’s Main Street program highlighted the work they are doing to preserve their downtown, including their grant program which has transformed many of the downtown historic buildings. Two graduate students presented their Preservation Texas summer internship work to document endangered historic places in Blanco, Caldwell, and Hays counties. The Texas Freedom Colonies Project work to prevent the erasure, decay, and destruction of culture properties related to Black settlements after the Civil War was highlighted. Wimberly’s new preservation program was presented, and the tools used to get that started including a historic resource survey, National Register historic district, preservation ordinance, and historic district design guidelines.

Both days were packed with useful information and were a great way to network with people in northeastern and central Texas who are working on historic preservation efforts. The last summit of the year will be the Southeast Texas Regional Preservation Summit in Beaumont to be held on Thursday, November 16th. Summit topics will include disaster preparedness and response, vernacular architecture as environmental response, and coastal cultural landscapes. More details will be coming soon to the Preservation Texas website.