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The Medallion July/August 2010


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The Medallion July/August 2010

  1. 1. Preservation News TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION July/August 2010 THEMEDALLION DANCE ACROSS SOUTH TEXAS Historic Mexican American Dance Halls Strive to Keep the Beat AliveA Tribute to Dr. Kathleen Gilmore ■ New Program Guides Texas Museums ■ Meet the Preservation Fellows
  2. 2. P R E S E R VAT I O N P R O F I L E THC’s Preservation Fellows Pursue Passion for Texas HistoryTThe Texas Historical Commission and Hispanic relations in the and write a book documenting the(THC) introduced its newest Southwestern U.S. history of her tribe.Preservation Fellows—Texas State “My (German) ancestors helped In the meantime, however, she isUniversity-San Marcos student found Lee County, so I have an focused on her responsibilities thisKatherine Koebbe and University of extensive family background in summer as a Preservation Fellow.Texas-Tyler graduate Norris White, Texas,” she explains. “I’ve made “I think this program will giveJr.—on April 24 at the agency’s some important contacts with me a leg up in terms of professionalAnnual Historic Preservation Texas tribes through my work experience,” Koebbe says. “I’ve beenConference in Houston. with the Native American Student a student for about seven years Koebbe and White will spend Association, and I feel I’ve built a now, so I’m really looking forwardmuch of the summer working with sense of community with people to being immersed in a professionalTHC staff on projects related to across the state. I’m hoping I can environment to develop the skills I’lltheir fields of study. Both are use my experiences in Texas and need in the working world.”anticipating the opportunity to at the THC to make significant White shares many of Koebbe’sexperience day-to-day tasks contributions to my tribe.” aspirations; however, at age 43, heof working in a professional Looking to the future, Koebbe’s admits to taking a nontraditionalpreservation environment. primary goal is completing her path to achieving his educational and Koebbe, who earned three thesis, which documents strategies professional goals. A San Antoniobachelor’s degrees from the for community survival used by native, White has lived in Palestine,University of Connecticut members of the Mohegan Tribe Texas, for 18 years and is a proud(anthropology, history, and English), from the contact period to the husband and father of two her propensity for variety will 19th century. In the long term, she His interest in cultural heritagebe well suited for her THC internship. expects to pursue a doctorate degree and community service dates to “I’m really looking forward toexperiencing many different aspectsof what the THC does,” she says. “Ican’t wait to see what it’s like to workwith different people in different “I’mand at thecan use make significantin Texas hoping I THC to my experiencespositions, from federal law issues todeveloping state policies to helpingwith projects at the local level.” contributions to my tribe. ” — Katherine Koebbe, 2010 Preservation Fellow Koebbe believes herdemonstrated dedication tohistoric preservation will be animportant asset at the THC.She has devoted efforts to herNative American heritage as amember of the Mohegan Tribeof Indians of Connecticut and aspresident of Texas State’s NativeAmerican Student Association. Koebbe’s experience at TexasState has also helped her sharpenfocus on academic areas of interest,including public policy and the pre-Colonial history of Native AmericanRight: Katherine Koebbe is commended by (from left) BrianShivers, board chair of the Friends of the Texas HistoricalCommission, and Mark Wolfe, THC executive director. 2
  3. 3. his high school experience with the Upward Bound program, part of The THC’s Preservation Fellows Program, now in its fourth year, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great was created to build interest in and awareness of historic preservation Society initiative. among college students from underrepresented ethnic groups. “Upward Bound instilled in me The program targets talented undergraduate and graduate students the importance of an education and to encourage their interest in pursuing fields of study in history, also gave me an opportunity to meet, preservation, architecture, archeology, landscape architecture, befriend, and learn about various downtown revitalization, and heritage tourism. To learn more people, cultures, and their heritage,” about the program contact the Friends of the Texas Historical he says. Commission at 512.936.2189 or visit Upon learning of the Preservation Fellows program, White pursued the opportunity because he felt he embodied the qualities—faith, diligence, desire, and eagerness to people, myths, and legacies has Looking ahead, White expects to learn—that would enable him to prompted him to explore and impart use his role as a Preservation Fellow achieve his career goals. his collected wisdom about the to further his objective to present “Ultimately, I realized that state’s richly diverse heritage. history and anthropology becoming a Preservation Fellow “I hope to pass some of these in a manner that is more appealing would be a great opportunity things along to kids who have and inclusive to minority youth. for me as well as an honor and experienced similar environmental As a result, he hopes to encourage privilege,” he adds. hardships and conditions as I and inspire students to seek careers With a special interest in Texas’ have,” he says. “I plan to create and personal involvement in prehistory era, White is eager to teaching and interpretive programs preservation organizations. spend his fellowship at the THC’s about Caddo culture to help better “I will work tirelessly to Caddo Mounds State Historic Site serve our youth. After all, they are encourage minority youth to in Alto. He hopes to explore the our future.” discover their history and culture,” indigenous cultures of his adopted White believes his previous says White. “The ultimate goal is region of Texas and experience the academic and volunteer experiences to motivate them so that one day professional side of overseeing a fostered his appreciation for the they will also have the passion to heritage site. professional aspects of preservation. preserve it.” White is also enthusiastic about Through his studies and his work Koebbe shares White’s sharing his skills and knowledge with the Texas Archeological Society, enthusiasm for promoting and with students. He claims his strong he has learned valuable lessons advocating historical issues, and is interest in Texas’ historic cultures, about the skills and methods used in looking forward to dedicating her the field. efforts to research and collaboration among preservation organizationsNorris White, Jr. (far right) and governmental entities.receives an award certificatefrom THC Chairman Jon “I’d like to make contributionsHansen and Shivers. in as many areas as I can,” Koebbe says. “I feel so happy and blessed that the THC has provided this opportunity for me to get a leg up in the world.” ★ This article was written by Andy Rhodes, managing editor of The Medallion. “encourage minority youth to I will work tirelessly to discover their history and culture. ” — Norris White, Jr., 3 2010 Preservation Fellow
  4. 4. PROGRAM FOCUS A Tale of Two Courthouses Rededication Ceremonies Celebrate Alfred Giles Designs in Different RegionsFFew buildings reflect a community as King Ranch, is one of the state’s also operated an office in Monterrey,broadly and accurately as its county newest counties. In 1906, the Mexico, and regularly traversed Southcourthouse. The circumstances of the community of Falfurrias was Texas, designed the courthouse ofinitial construction tell the real stories considered cattle country with substantial materials, including high-of a community’s history, and these fewer than 200 residents; by 1920, quality brick and ornamental terrastories represent the genuine character however, it boasted a population of cotta and slate roofing.of these places. nearly 2,500. Former Texas Ranger “Brooks County strategically Two Texas communities Captain J.A. Brooks called a meeting invested in its future by constructingrecently celebrated the rededication of Falfurrias citizens in 1911, where a noble building that reflected itsof their courthouses after substantial he secured 63 signatures in support of lofty aspirations,” explains Stanrestoration projects with major establishing a new county. Graves, director of the THC’sfunding provided by the Texas After Falfurrias was selected as Architecture Division. “TheHistorical Commission’s (THC) the county seat in September, a bond attention to detail truly reflects theTexas Historic Courthouse election for a $65,000 courthouse was community’s commitment to creatingPreservation Program. Though held, passing with 344 citizens voting a structure that’s equal to any in Texasthey are in different regions of the for it and nine against. Giles, who and beyond.”state, both buildings—Brooks andKendall County courthouses—weredesigned by Alfred Giles, a notedSan Antonio architect. According to the Handbookof Texas Online, Giles was born inEngland in 1853 and initially aspiredto enter the ministry before anarchitectural firm apprenticeship ledto a change in his career ambitions. In1873, Giles immigrated to the U.S.and eventually settled in San Antonio,which, according to the book AlfredGiles: An English Architect in Texas andMexico, lured him with its Europeanand cosmopolitan charm. After learning the skill of workingwith locally available buildingmaterials, Giles established hisown firm in 1876. The subsequentarrival of the railroad expandedGiles’ architectural palette and hisclients’ exposure to new styles. In the Above and right: Kendall County Courthouse (interior photos courtesy JC Stoddard Construction).following decades, he incorporated Opposite page: Brooks County Courthouse.these diverse influences in hiswork, including the two recentlyrededicated courthouses in distinctlydifferent regions of Texas. Brooks County, home to aportion of South Texas’ legendary 4
  5. 5. sprinkler system, new electrical By 1909, the county sought distribution system, new slate roof again to expand the building and flashing system matching the and commissioned Giles, who original, new accessible elevator and was perceived to express a sense restrooms, balcony restoration, fire of “sobriety, simplicity, and alarms, new audio/visual equipment, conservatism” in his buildings. reproduction wood windows, and new In contrast to the brick and terra wood doors to match the originals. cotta of Brooks County’s new courthouse, Giles extended the use of Kendall County’s native limestone for the two-story addition, taking the design of the courthouse to a more- refined level. After completing a successful exterior restoration in 1998 using federal grant funds, Kendall County prepared a master plan outlining the remaining work in March 2004. Hopeful that they would qualify to receive construction funding, the county prepared construction documents to earn additional incentives. The project was awarded a $1.28 million grant in January 2008 and was nearly complete within a year and a half. The Kendall County Courthouse rededication, held on April 10, 2010, featured a German band and a series of speeches by state and local officials. The courthouse contains Held against a backdrop of The Kendall County Historicaltwo cornerstones, one laid by campaign signs, the January 28, 2010 Commission (CHC) distributedthe Masonic Lodge and another rededication of the Brooks County an impressive brochure includingby Brooks County. The Masonic Courthouse was a day-long fiesta minutes from century-old meetings ofcornerstone references “the Great that began with a formal ceremony. the commissioners court concerningArchitect of the universe” preserving Engaging the younger generation, the historic building, a copy of thethe structure from decay as well as County Judge Raul Ramirez foretold 1859 petition to form the county,“the corn of nourishment, the wine a future when the students in and noteworthy information on theof refreshment, and the oil of joy,” attendance would be caretakers of the history of the county, its courthouse,denoting plenty, health, and peace. building and would look back to the and previous judges. The rededicationThe county cornerstone contains day it was restored and rededicated. ended with a tour of the building ledseveral Mexican and U.S. coins along High school students led tours of the by CHC members.with copies of the local newspaper stately building they studied, and the “It’s certainly interesting thatfrom 1914. high school band played mariachi both of our recent rededication Brooks County representatives music throughout the afternoon. ceremonies involved Alfred Gilesbegan preparing a plan for application The second Giles courthouse designs, and that both had distinctlyto the THC’s courthouse program in rededication was in Kendall County, different qualities,” Graves said.the first funding cycle in 1999–2000. located in Texas’ Hill Country “It was also really fulfilling to see eachThe project received a grant for region. The modesty of the original community’s genuine displayarchitectural plan development in 1870 structure—a simple one-story of dedication to its past, present,2002 and received a construction building, two bays deep and four bays and future.” ★grant award in 2006. State funding wide—attests to the poor economicprovided in Round II and Round IV conditions left by the Civil War. This article was written by Sharon Fleming of the THC’s Architecture Division.totals $3.16 million. Within 15 years, a second-story The courthouse is now updated courtroom and exterior gallerywith new air conditioning, a full were added. TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION
  6. 6. P R E S E R VAT I O N N E W S A Lifelong Quest For Knowledge: A Tribute to Dr. Kathleen GilmoreAArcheologists throughout the worldare mourning the loss of Dr. KathleenKirk Gilmore, a scholar, professor,philanthropist, and mentor. Dr.Gilmore passed away on March 18,2010, at the age of 95, still activelyengaged in her lifelong passion forlearning about the past. Gilmore’s connections withthe Texas Historical Commission(THC) were strong and meaningful. with archeology since childhood, she was discouraged from seeking a career in that field. She studied geology instead, but could not find employment in the male-dominated petrochemical field until she went to Houston. There she met Bob Gilmore and they married on Christmas Day, 1940. She became a homemaker and raised four daughters, but she never forgot her passion for archeology. memories of gathering at her Victoria apartment to discuss the results of the field investigations. “We also went to France together to research the project, and Kathleen was able to see the actual kilns in the Saintonge region where the 17th- century Fort St. Louis artifacts came from,” Bruseth said. THC archeologist Jeff Durst, who worked closely with Gilmore as aHer archeological work in Texas At the age of 49 she decided to senior advisor on the Fort St. Louisspanned more than 40 years and go back to school. She received a project, said, “Kathleen continuallyher contribution to the discovery master’s and doctorate degree from amazed us with her vast knowledgeand interpretation of La Salle’s Fort SMU and launched a second career of both the archeology of the site asSt. Louis Colony near Victoria was a that would change the face of Texas well as the related history. She wascareer highlight that also established archeology forever. a sheer delight to work with and andeep professional and personal ties She performed exceptional inspiration to us all.”with THC archeologists. In fact, work in historical archeology and Pat Mercado-Allinger, Texas stateGilmore had been planning to meet her efforts were crucial in finding archeologist, also benefited greatlywith agency staff members on March the sites of several missions. Her from working with Gilmore.19, 2010, regarding a book she was extensive excavations produced “Kathleen was a remarkablewriting about Felipe de Rábago y thousands of artifacts that assisted woman in so many respects—sheTerán, the colorful commander of other scholars with interpretation. was a pioneer, pursuing a career inpresidios San Sabá and San Xavier. One of her greatest discoveries was archeology when women were the In Texas, the word “mission” and that the distinctive green-glazed decided minority in the profession,”the name “Gilmore” are irrevocably pottery fragments from the Keeran Mercado-Allinger said. “We shouldlinked. Gilmore was enamored Ranch near Victoria were French all be so lucky to have the kindwith the Spanish Colonial period in origin (not Spanish), eventually of courage she had in midlifeand wrote her master’s thesis at leading to the verification of the to follow a passion for learningSouthern Methodist University site as La Salle’s “lost colony,” Fort and discovery.”(SMU) on the San Xavier missions. St. Louis. Gilmore received numerousShe also worked on Missions “One of my fondest memories accolades and honors during herRosario, Dolores de los Ais, and San of working with Kathleen was when career. She served as president ofSabá. In March 2009, she was part we excavated Fort St. Louis,” says the Texas Archeological Society andof a survey team seeking the sites of Jim Bruseth, director of the THC’s the Council of Texas Archeologists,Missions Candelaria, San Ildefonso, Archeology Division. “We did this and in 2003 she became the firstand San Francisco Xavier near from 1999 till 2002, and Kathleen recipient of the THC’s Curtis D.Rockdale. She had been searching was a constant source of knowledge Tunnell Lifetime Achievement Awardfor those three sites for four decades and encouragement.” in Archeology. Five years later, onand to her delight, the team found Bruseth added that Fort her 40th anniversary of conductingpossible evidence of the perimeter of St. Louis was Gilmore’s “great archeological excavations in Texas,the Candelaria mission. archeological love” and she felt it she was honored by Gov. Rick Perry Gilmore was born Kathleen was important to reside near the site with the THC’s Governor’s AwardKirk and raised in Oklahoma. due to her high level of involvement for Historic Preservation. She alsoAlthough she had been fascinated with the project. He recalled fond served as the first woman presidentTEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION 6
  7. 7. Right: Dr. Kathleen Gilmore received the THC’s Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation from Gov. Rick Perry in 2008. Far right: Dr. Gilmore in the field; below: (from left) archeologists Edward Jelks, Kay Hindes, and Gilmore in 1997. of the international Society for knowledge of this early period of Memorial gifts in Gilmore’s honor Historical Archaeology and later Texas history.” may be made to The Bob and received the Society’s highest honor, Bruseth acknowledged that Kathleen Gilmore Endowment the J. C. Harrington Award. Gilmore’s absence will be felt in Spanish and French Colonial Gilmore’s passion for archeology professionally and personally. Archeology through the Friends of also inspired her to become a “I’ll miss being able to seek the Texas Historical Commission major philanthropist. Through Kathleen’s advice on how best to (call 512.936.2189). Donations the Friends of the Texas Historical excavate a site, share with her the will be added to the endowment Commission, she established thrill of my archeological discoveries, to underwrite new research on The Bob and Kathleen Gilmore or gain her reassurance when the Spanish and French colonial Endowment in Spanish and French things in the field don’t go quite occupations in Texas. Colonial Archeology and the Texas as expected,” Bruseth said. “She Presidio Project Fund. Using monies was always inspiring, supportive, from the latter fund, in December cheerful, and generous. Her family, 2007, at age 92, she led a team friends, and colleagues will always of scholars to Seville, Spain, to remember her brilliance, dedication, conduct archival research on Spanish friendship, and sense of humor.” presidios in Texas. He added that Gilmore’s love “Throughout her long life, of archeology and her vision for Kathleen spearheaded and expanding research on Texas’ collaborated on archival and field colonial period will live on in research projects to shed important perpetuity through the Gilmore light on French and Spanish colonial Endowment and in the hearts of settlement in Texas,” Mercado- those who knew her. ★ Allinger said. “She clearly delighted in this and encouraged archeological This article was written by Toni Turner, the THC’s Development Officer. colleagues to contribute to our TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION
  8. 8. T R AV E L T E X A S SWINGIN’ SALONEST Endangered Mexican American Dance Halls Hold Noteworthy HistoryTucked behind rolling hills Corporation, recall spendingin a grassy pasture just west many memorable weekendsof Floresville is a modest listening to conjunto bandsstructure barely visible from and attempting new danceFM 536. Drivers who catch styles at Yndo Park anda glimpse of the low-slung other halls in neighboringbuilding might mistake it communities. Gonzales hasfor a barn or storage shed. particularly fond memoriesThey wouldn’t suspect it of the youthful energy andonce raised a community’s customs associated with thecollective spirit with vivacious dances and saló, passionate dancing, “All of these places hadand memories that endured wide-open dance floorsfor decades. with benches around the This popular salón perimeter—that’s where the(dance hall) was known as girls would sit, usually withYndo Park, a family-oriented their mothers,” he says. “Thefacility that hosted dances and men would stand outsidecelebrations. Like hundreds all huddled together andof other salónes in the Texas eventually move their wayHistorical Commission’s inside to try to catch the(THC) Texas Tropical eye of a young woman. YouTrail and Independence can only imagine the fun inTrail Regions, it peaked in getting someone to dancepopularity during the 1940s with you or, on the otherand ‘50s. Others fell into hand, the embarrassmentdisrepair or, in many of rejection.”cases, were razed fromthe landscape. Fortunately, several high-profile Mexican Americandance halls are still operating in Perez nods in agreement,South Texas (see sidebar, p. 9), adding that although he didoffering heritage tourists a glimpse not share Gonzales’ reputableof a colorful past that once thrived dancing skills, he had an intensethroughout the region. Step inside Yndo Park (top) and El Monterey dance appreciation for the music. Perez halls southeast of San Antonio thrived in explains that the two main styles ofone of these buildings on a Saturday the 1950s.night, and it’s easy to conjure up a music at this time—conjunto andsimpler time when dancing, music, orquesta—impacted the approachand socializing inspired people Floresville natives Fred to endure another work week in Gonzales and Jesse Perez, who both Conjunto, the primary style atanticipation of the dance halls’ lively currently serve as officials with the rural dance halls, encompassed theweekend fiestas. Floresville Economic Development region’s multicultural spectrum,TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION 8
  9. 9. with German and Czech influences create a makeshift dance floor. The in the accordion-based polkas and bands consisted of local residents waltzes, Mexican-inspired bajo sextos who enjoyed playing music, typically (12-string guitars), European-based including a fiddle, stand-up bass, string instruments, and Spanish- and guitar. influenced Bolero, slow-tempo “Even those practices would draw traditions. Orquestas were slightly a crowd—people would come out more formal, with the notable and burn piles of grass and straw addition of horns incorporated from to keep the mosquitoes away,” the big band sounds introduced to Perez says. “Later, if a spot became many Mexican American soldiers a regular gathering place, they’d build a platform for dancing if they during their European experiences in World War II. couldn’t afford to construct an entire South Texas Dance Card “These dances were a lot of fun dance hall.” Several of the historic Mexican for the whole community,” Gonzales Floresville’s music scene was American dance halls in the THC’s recalls. “We’re a happy people—we especially robust, with shows by Texas Tropical Trail and Independence like music, and some of us, myself popular acts such as Conjunto Trail Regions remain open for dances included, really love to dance. Corona, Ruco Villareal, Los and community events. On Saturday Obviously we had to do these things Caminantes (featuring a teenaged nights, these salónes come alive somewhere, so dance halls started Flaco Jimenez), and Los Aguilares. with the sounds of traditional popping up all over to accommodate Gonzales and Perez cite more than conjunto music or modern variations these activities.” a dozen Mexican American dance of the style. Dancing is always an According to Gonzales and Perez, halls that once thrived in the area, important accompaniment. the area’s original gatherings, known including La Agupacion Nacional, Texas Dance Hall Preservation, as farm dances, were held outdoors on El Jacalito, Gonzales Salón, Pan Inc. co-founder Steve Dean ranches near Floresville. Community American Dance Hall, El Ranchito, recommends several South Texas members would find a level patch of and La Plataforma. In the nearby salónes for travelers who want to land and sweep everything off it to community of Kenedy, the salón experience this colorful Mexican American cultural tradition. Although many of the following are closed Floresville natives (from left) Jesse Perez for regular business (but still worth and Fred Gonzales recall visiting for an exterior tour), theydancing at the local salónes; represent a diverse sampling of they are now trying to significant historical dance halls in preserve them. the region: Alice La Villita 3050 Old Kingsville Rd. According to Dean, this is “the mother of all conjunto halls.” La Villita is associated with bands on Alice’s Ideal Records, which recorded notable acts (Beto Villa, Narciso Martinez, Tony de la Rosa) after small labels closed during World War II to conserve shellac and other record- related materials. – Continued on page 10 Above photo courtesy Texas Dance Hall Preservation, Inc. July/August 2010 TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION 9
  10. 10. – Continued from page 9 El Monterey hosted high-profile for cultural celebrations. Fiestas touring acts such as Little Joe y Patrias (annual patriotic holidaysCorpus Christi La Familia, Alfonso Ramos, and such as Cinco de Mayo and 16 deGalvan Ballroom Isidro Lopez. Septiembre) were major events at1632 Agnes St. “This hall was pretty famous back these facilities, drawing hundredsRafael Galvan, Sr., a respected in the day—it was the popular place of attendees and featuring elaboratebusinessman, civic leader, and for Mexican people to get together decorations and colorful programs.Corpus Christi’s first Mexican- every Saturday night,” says Carlos “Everyone would get allAmerican police officer, constructed Zuniga, who built the facility with gussied up for the Fiestas Patrias,”and opened the Galvan Ballroom in his father and grandfather in 1949. Perez recalls. “The dance halls here1950. It became a popular dance “The music here was different than were not unlike the traditionalhall, particularly for the more-upscale other places. It was a more high-class Mexican plazas, which served asorquesta and jazz acts. spot with orquestas, not conjunto. The community gathering places back in bands had big horn sections, and the the olden days.” music would just blow you away.” By the 1960s, however, culturalVictoria As he surveys the now-neglected shifts trended away from the danceClub Westerner property, Zuniga remembers halls, as the younger population1005 W. Constitution St. Monterey’s prime years (1950s and became more mobile and people361.575.9109 ‘60s) with a smile, recalling events remained in their homes with that drew up to 400 attendees, increased availability of television.Known in its early days (1940s–50s) turning away men who violated the Many residents moved to citiesfor hosting orquesta bands, the dress code by not wearing collared for jobs, leaving the dance halls toWesterner became associated with shirts, and paying a then-unknown be transformed to bingo parlors,popular conjunto bands in the 1960s Little Joe y La Familia $175 to play a community event centers, orand continues to stage Mexican show (Zuniga notes Little Joe would often abandoned.American bands such as Little Joe y later ask $12,000 per appearance). “Things started changing prettyLa Familia most weekends. “This place was a gold mine for rapidly by the end of the ‘60s, me—it was the only place to be on but there was a lot of that going Saturday nights,” Zuniga says, adding on—it’s just the nature of society and that in 1969 he sold the hall to the culture,” Gonzales says. “Even though American G.I. Forum. many of these dance halls are gone Salónes like the Monterey and or in disrepair, there are still some Benito Juarez Hall in adjacent Karnes great stories out there. We’re hopeful City also drew families and visitors that the younger generations will appreciate that part of their heritage and make the effort to keep these places alive.” (From left) Benito Juarez Hall in Karnes City; the former Farmer’s Place dance hall near Floresville. TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION 10
  11. 11. Preservación de Salónes Dean, who is working on a book documenting Texas’ historic dance Other notable SouthEnsuring the continued livelihoodof Mexican American salónes is halls, is concerned that members Texas dance halls:increasingly becoming a priority of the generation involved with thefor Texas Dance Hall Preservation, origins of the salónes are passing away Corpus ChristiInc., a Houston-based nonprofit before their memories are recorded El Teraza Ballroomorganization dedicated to saving the for posterity. He hopes Spanish- 1108 Leopard St.state’s historic halls and their cultural speaking community members makeattributes. According to group co- the effort to research and record the stories and facts associated with these Karnes Cityfounder Steve Dean, these dance halls Benito Juarez Hallare often underappreciated by Texans culturally significant structures. “I’m somewhat shocked and 410 W. Buchel Ave.and are considered highly endangeredby preservationists. dismayed that there isn’t more “These venues tend to go with official research on this subject,” Laredothe flow of the music base, so the Dean says. “We need to get a Latin Casa Blanca Ballroomhistoric Mexican American dance American studies professor to take 5302 East Saunders St.halls are being left this on as a major research topic for a 956.724.9800behind as younger comprehensive book sopeople turn their backs we don’t lose any more San Antonioon them and go to the of this history.” Blanco Ballroombigger cities for newer, On a positive note, 3719 Blanco Rd.brighter, air-conditioned Dean is encouraged by 210.732.3510clubs,” Dean explains. several emerging trends“So many of the that could help keep San Benitowonderful small places Mexican American La Villitain rural areas across dance halls in the 200 block of W. Robertson St.South Texas are public consciousness. For example, he notes ★being forgottenand neglected.” that festivals in some Dean acknowledges Mexican Americanthat the Mexican communities areAmerican facilities tend increasingly appealingto be overshadowed Posters like this one for Corpus to a wider audience, Museums featuringby the higher-profile thereby exposing theGerman dance halls Christi’s Galvan Ballroom announced dancing events. traditions associated conjunto heritage:of Central Texas. He Photo courtesy Texas Dance Hall with the salónes to other Preservation, Inc. cultural groups. Also,claims this inequity San Benitois often tied to economic issues, several historic halls are hosting Texas Conjunto Musicsuch as limited funding in Mexican younger bands, allowing a new Hall of Fame and MuseumAmerican communities during generation to enjoy dancing on the 210 E. Heywood St.initial construction and for ongoing same floors their ancestors once 956.245.1666maintenance in subsequent decades. graced half a century ago. ★ “Architecturally, they’re not as Article and photos by Andy Rhodes, managinggrand as the German halls, but they editor of The Medallion. Alicehave a strong cultural identity that’s The Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Museumvery significant to our state’s history,” On the cover: The historic La Villita dance hall 213 N. Wright St.he says. in San Benito still hosts events. 361.668.6666 San Antonio To help preserve Mexican American dance halls across the state, Museo Alameda share your stories and photos at 101 North Santa Rosa St. 210.299.4300 www.thealameda.orgJuly/August 2010 TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION 11
  12. 12. P R E S E R VAT I O N A D V I C E Take the Right StEPs New Program Guides Texas Museums and Sites to SuccessNNearly 40 people gathered at the With StEPs, history “StEPs is really about projects,”THC’s Annual Historic Preservation organizations now have a clearly Cook said. “Projects can beConference in April to learn how defined framework for recognizing, accomplished in increments biga new program can help create understanding, and achieving or small, but even the smalleststronger museums, historic sites, national standards in six key areas of projects can lead to greatand history organizations. Three of operations—mission, vision, and accomplishments.”recognized leaders in the field governance; audience; interpretation; It is this sense of accomplish-discussed the value of participating stewardship of collections; ment that has small organizationsin the Standards and Excellence stewardship of historic structures singing StEPs’ praises. CookProgram for History Organizations and landscapes; and management. explained that many of the(StEPs), a new initiative offered The program’s workbook offers a participants in the program’s pilotthrough the American Association for series of self-assessment questions, phase were amazed at how theirState and Local History (AASLH). along with three levels of specific organizations were finally able Cherie Cook, senior program performance indicators, to help to see them-coordinator for AASLH, began the organizations measure the degree selves mov-session by providing an overview to which they are currently meeting ing forward.of StEPs (, the standards. After identifying areas “It gave thema self-study program that assists for improvement, participants can confidencehistory organizations with assessing then choose a recommended project and helpedtheir current operations using to get one step closer to meeting them real-performance indicators (basic, that standard. ize that theygood, and better) and rewardingthem with certificates for progress.Lest museums be ashamed toadmit to their shortcomings, Cookpromised, “This entire program isabout encouragement, not judgment.We want to encourage historyorganizations to move closer tomeeting national standards.” She went on to explain thatstandards have long remained anenigma for those in the local historyfield. When it comes to collectionscare, for example, museums havetraditionally been told they mustprovide a professional standard ofcare for the objects. Cook asked theaudience, “But what does that meanexactly? How do you know if you’redoing it?” A sea of shaking headsand shrugging shoulders signaledthat it hasn’t always been clear.Right: Cherie Cook speaks at the popular StEPssession at the 2010 Annual Historic PreservationConference. Inset: Dr. Paul Katz leads a tour ofAmarillo’s Texas Pharmacy Museum.
  13. 13. aren’t too small to achieve success,” the workbook format, allows for museums, she is in a unique positionshe beamed. flexibility that is missing from other to receive input from a variety of One of those small organizations assessment programs, he noted. In cultural organizations about theiris the Texas Pharmacy Museum, particular, the matrix feature of the specific needs. According to Rugg,curated by the second session workbook, which permits museum representatives reportpresenter, Dr. Paul Katz. The organizations to work horizontally that one of their greatest needs is amuseum helped pilot test StEPs (approaching all six standard areas method to identify their current set ofin 2008, and was one of the first one performance level at a time) or circumstances and how to use thatenrollees when the program officially vertically (approaching all three information to plan for the future.launched late last year. performance levels one standard Rugg added that her primary Katz, who recently agreed to area at a time) lets organizations responsibility is to help the staff,serve on the StEPs national advisory customize a system that best fits volunteers, and trustees at Texasboard, took great care to outline the their organizational capacities museums do their jobs more aspects he and resources. effectively. As such, she and TAM values most The workbook’s inclusion of staff are devoted to evaluating about the suggested projects, case studies, the myriad resources available program. and group discussion questions are to museums and other cultural The self- noteworthy, said Katz, but he claimed institutions. Acting as a filter of study nature one of its most valuable features is sorts, they then provide information of StEPs, the list of unacceptable practices exclusively related to the resources along with included in each of the six standards that best serve the community. areas. He found this approach easier “Only the good stuff makes it to digest than a similar list that might through the filter,” she said. “StEPs be created by an outside observer is out there, and it’s good.” pointing out the museum’s errors or In fact, Rugg views the program shortcomings. He added that access as beneficial not just for history to printed and online resources, organizations, but for all museums as well as web-based networks, and cultural organizations. She provided a sense of comfort, in that believes the key to success, however, he never felt like he had to start is open and honest evaluation. from scratch. “Denial is often our greatest Katz, the sole staff member at his challenge,” she cautioned. “We’re museum, firmly believes that even in denial about what it is that really the smallest history organizations keeps us from achieving success.” will benefit from participation in Rugg added that museums have StEPs. Although he has yet to many options available for learning determine whether he’ll take a about standards and creating plans vertical or horizontal approach to to achieve them; however, remaining the program, he confidently stated, unaware of the standards or “The Texas Pharmacy Museum will choosing to ignore them is not one be a stronger, better-run institution of them. because of StEPs.” “We will not budge on high The final speaker was Texas standards in Texas museums,” Association of Museums (TAM) Rugg concluded. ★ executive director Ruth Ann Rugg. As head of the statewide This article was written by Carlyn Hammons of the THC’s History Programs Division. membership organization for TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION 13
  14. 14. PROGRAM FOCUS The Main Street Experience Preserving Texas’ Historic Downtowns Involves More Than Physical RevitalizationTThroughout the state, the Texas Main Over the previous several decades, and the town squares, once the heartStreet Program’s (TMSP) visible this collective sense of community of downtown, were ignored.benefits—revitalized facades, spruced- pride often took a detour, from a “Things started to change inup signage, pedestrian-friendly downtown focus to outside the city the late 1970s when downtownstreetscapes—are on display much limits. At one time, a community’s revitalization began to be recognizedlike the appealing wares showcased in commercial center represented a as an activity worth pursuing,” saysthe historic windows of small towns vibrant, pedestrian-friendly, relevant Debra Farst, TMSP coordinator.and urban centers. Sometimes lost in environment. When sprawl appeared, “This initial effort, which was a pilotthe improvement process, however, everything changed. Most goods and project undertaken by the Nationalare the abstract concepts of support services relocated to strip centers, Trust for Historic Preservation,and effort carried out by the people malls, and large industrial parks. brought forth an understandinginvolved with bringing a Main Street Main Street became bereft of activity that historic downtowns representproject to fruition. and prosperity. People moved to not only a community’s collective the suburbs. memories, but they also provide Cars became viable economic uses for today.” essential for According to Howard Langner, access to a TMSP architect, participants education, in the downtown revitalization goods, process have learned many valuable and services. lessons over previous decades that The are increasingly taking hold of the buildings public consciousness. He suggests left behind the following to make preservation’s represented a intangible concepts more discernible: rich tapestry ■ Old buildings provide a strong of history. sense of place and should be viewed Eventually, a as primary resources in historic large number of downtowns. Many architects these buildings have been trained to identify were disfigured architectural styles, but they have by misguided not been educated in classical design rehabilitation techniques. Many of the skills or lost to involved in physically repairing and thoughtless maintaining historic buildings haveGreenville’s Saturday Market Days draws residents to the downtown demolition. been lost. Whenever possible, employMarket Square. The meaning qualified designers and tradespeople of downtown who understand and appreciate the From Main Street managers was forgotten, leaving us with empty quality craftsmanship in historicto local merchants to THC staff, storefronts and barren parking lots. downtown buildings.these participants share a common Vacant buildings came to be seen as ■ It is important to ensurepassion for bringing Texas’ historic eyesores instead of opportunities. downtown building owners viewdowntowns back to life. At the heart Gone was the “public living their properties as valuable assets andof these individuals’ efforts is a respect room” of Main Street. The window not as costly burdens. No buildingand concern for their hometowns, displays that had once enticed owner should be expected to investnative or adopted, short-term or customers were neglected, the art in his or her building if there is nolong-term. deco theater marquees went unlit, hope of return on the investment.TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION 14
  15. 15. Fostering Community Pride through Main Street Howard Langner, a veteran architect with the Texas Main Street Program, has participated in hundreds of downtown revitalization projects. He offers the following suggestions about establishing the conceptually abstract value of community pride. ■ Each of our towns is worth living in and worth visiting. We need to look at our communities with fresh eyes and ask ourselves, “Why would someone visit here? Why would someone want to live here?” We need to mine the history of our towns and recreate quality of life. ■ We need to instill increased pride in our downtowns. Schools,Bastrop’s Main Street program fosters community pride with annual festivals and public events. post offices, retail establishments, professional offices, recreationalA community must support its expansion or creation of almost destinations, and residences need tomerchants through direct patronage 6,400 businesses in their Main be located near the town center toor promotion. Street districts. create round-the-clock vitality.■ Think twice when downtown “These reinvestments show that ■ It’s important to foster awarenessdevelopment decisions are made on significant economic development of history in our towns. Not justbehalf of traffic and not pedestrians. impact can be realized through the “Elvis slept here” variety, butEfficient movement of vehicles historic preservation,” Farst says. “As the most significant aspects of aaround a town means less time we move toward the future, we’ll community’s heritage. The sense ofspent in the community. This is the continue to provide encouragement, “roots” creates pride and purpose foropposite of what should be achieved. hope, and technical services for a community.■ Enticing people downtown on a communities that have just begun ■ We should make our towns livingday-to-day basis requires making it their downtown revitalization classrooms for our students. Not ona desirable place to be. A few park journeys and for those that are an occasional field-trip basis, but onbenches placed in a circle around maintaining existing programs.” a day-to-day “here is how the countya water fountain does not qualify. For more information about courthouse works, here is how cityPeople need shade when it is hot and existing TMSP communities hall works, here is how businesssun when it is cold; they need food or how to get involvedd is transacted” basis. Having our transactedand drink when they are hungry, with the program, call l schools plac in isolated campuses placeda place to take the kids to play, 512.463.6092 or visit miles from the downtown is contraryentertainment, and a variety of ★ to a sense o community. ofgoods and services. Without these, ■ We need to get people downtownthey will get in a vehicle and go find This article was written by throughout the entire year, not just throughothem elsewhere. TMSP staff. for the annual Christmas Pageant, a Farst adds that these approaches Shoppers Days, or Farm Festival. Shopper Right: Youth volunteerare enhanced and supported by to pick up trash around We need to make downtown thethe TMSP, which has helped downtown Mineola. obvious choice for all things every chcommunities across Texas benefit day. T less downtown is Thefrom an economic reinvestment of seen as a relic and the moremore than $2 billion, the creation alive it seems, the moreof nearly 25,000 local jobs, and the chance it has for success. chaJuly/August 2010 15
  16. 16. NEWS IN BRIEFHow to Bake a Memorable Slaton Bakery ownerMarker Ceremony Robin Wilson displaysThe Lubbock County Historical the replica THC marker cake made especiallyCommission (CHC) held a for the bakery’s recentmemorable and tasteful historical marker dedicationmarker dedication on April 10 in ceremony. Photo bySlaton. Community representatives es Sandy Fortenberry.and CHC membersappropriately celebrated thenew marker for Slaton Bakery ywith a full-sized cake andmedallion cookies. “The cake was a verytasty replica of the marker,with the seal, lettering, thewhole bit!” reported SallyAbbe of Lubbock. The marker (andcake) commemoratedSlaton Bakery, one ofTexas’ oldest still-operating bakeries.The business tracesits origins to 1923,when Slaton’s BlueRibbon and City Bakeries iconsolidated. In 1943, theWilson family purchased thebakery, and they continue to operatethe popular business. Among the bakery’s notablemorsels are its introduction of slicedhamburger and hot dog buns tothe area, as well as an early offeringof flour tortillas on its menu. The complete their projects, the grant conservation treatments. MuseumsWilson family has baked thousands program timeline is moving up by that focus primarily on history, haveof cakes—for births, graduations, one month. a budget of less than $350,000, useweddings, anniversaries, and other Applications will be available a written collections managementoccasions—over a 60-year span for on the THC website beginning policy, and meet other minimummany of its regular customers. August 2 and are due on September requirements are eligible to apply. 8. Applicants can expect award To learn more about the notifications directly following the eligibility requirements, or to discussTHC History Museum Grant THC’s fall quarterly commission a possible project proposal, contactApplication Period meeting at the end of October, and the THC’s Museum Services ProgramBegins August 2 successful applicants can begin their staff at year, the Texas Historical projects immediately. Projects mustCommission (THC) helps small be completed by July 1, 2011. San Antonio Golfhistory museums preserve our state’s Popular uses of the fundsheritage by awarding up to $10,000 include purchasing acid-free storage Tournament to Benefitin grant money for collections care supplies, environmental monitoring Hispanic Heritage Centerprojects. This year, in an effort equipment, collections management San Antonio’s inaugural Hispanicto allow museums more time to software, storage units, and Heritage Golf Cup InvitationalTEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION 16
  17. 17. National Register News The National Register of Historic Places is the country’s official list of cultural resources deemed worthy of preservation, including more than 3,000 listings in Texas. Listing affords properties a measure of protection from the impact of federally funded projects, as well as access to technical expertise, tax credits, and grant funds to facilitate preservation. The following recently listed historic properties represent the real stories reflecting Texas’ dynamic cultural heritage. Brownsville City Cemetery and Hebrew Cemetery—Brownsville, Cameron County The Brownsville City Cemetery and the Cemetery of the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Brownsville and Matamoros reflect the evolving physical and social structure in this city on the U.S./Mexico border during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Occupying three city blocks, the cemeteries represent the confluence of Mexican, Anglo American, Jewish, and Creole funerary practices. The cemeteries were listed in the National Register because they reflect critical planning decisions made during the city’s early development in the 19th century and represent the historic ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity of Brownsville. The cemeteries were also listed at the statewide level of significance as outstanding examples of cemetery design and for their vast and distinct collection of funerary structures and objects. The cemeteries feature notable works of accomplished sculptors and examples of regional folk design, retaining an exceptional array of decorative fences, mausoleums, grave markers, and plantings. Faison House—La Grange, Fayette County The Nathaniel W. Faison House was listed at the local level of significance as an example of vernacular domestic architecture reflecting different periods of 19th- century settlement in Texas. The property consists of three separate volumes joined together by a rear U-shaped porch and courtyard. The period of significance begins with the purchase of the property by Faison in 1866 and ends with the 1920 death of Susan Faison, widow of Peter Faison, whose family constructed the central and last section of the home in 1884 and filled it with the fine furnishings that remain today. Another significant date is 1870, the year in which freedwoman Louisiana “Lou Faison” Brown became owner of the residence. Although it is possible other freedwomen in Texas owned homes earlier than Brown, no other examples are currently known. The Faison House is nominated at the state level of significance for its association with Brown as well as Faison, an early Texas settler who fought for the Republic and found success in land, cotton, and merchandising.Tournament will be held July 24 at “shotgun start” takes place at 8 a.m. Lopez and Tony Cherone, generalthe prestigious La Cantera Resort Contests include “closest to the pin” manager of the Westin La CanteraGolf Course. and “longest drive” awards, and Resort, will benefit the planned The event will feature a Traveling Heritage Cup will be Hispanic Heritage Center ofentertainment, celebrities, sports assigned to one of the winning teams Texas. For more information orfigures, and golfers from San Antonio, from Texas, Mexico, or Spain. to sign up, contact Ron BotelloMexico, and Spain. The tournament The tournament, co-chaired by at 210.241.5767. ★will begin with a breakfast, and the San Antonio City Councilman RayJuly/August 2010 TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION 17
  18. 18. SITE SPOTLIGHT Starr Family Home to Shine Even Brighter After RestorationPPart of the Marshall community foundation shifts, and material The THC is responsible forfor more than a century, the Starr breakdown. Architectural repairs ensuring the preservation work isFamily Home State Historic Site is a and accessibility enhancements are authentic, especially when there isremarkable example of 19th-century scheduled to be completed this year a need for replacing or repairingarchitecture and family heritage. with a primary focus on exterior materials. Accurate recordings of aVisitors to the home can see family restoration including replacement of building’s creation and maintenanceportraits, hand-carved furnishings, rotten wood, fresh paint, complete are important for conservationand delicate collections of glassware window restoration, and storm water and interpretation.and china. The site’s collection is drainage system repairs. The Starr Family Home hascomposed of original pieces from the “The beauty of historic buildings become a community cornerstoneStarr family and is now part of the is that they were put together by hand where a variety of events take placeauthentic experience of viewing the with individual components that, such as weddings and family get-elegant lifestyle of a bygone era. Each with proper care, can be sustained togethers. Major activities at theroom of this real place is filled with virtually forever,” said Glenn Reed, site include the annual croquetmemories that evoke real stories of chief architect for the Texas Historical tournament in June, the VictorianTexas history. Commission’s (THC) 20 historic Fair for school children in the fall, and The Starr family played an sites. “Preserving an old structure the holiday candlelight dinner andimportant role in the state’s history requires an intense analysis of the tour of the house from Thanksgivingfrom the formative years of the building to determine the cause of through Christmas.Republic of Texas through the each problem so we can stop further Due to the site’s ongoingstate’s growth in the late 1800s. Dr. deterioration. While there may be preservation projects, visitors areJames Harper Starr was president many correct treatments, there is only encouraged to call ahead to ensureof the board of land commissioners one correct diagnosis.” tours and events remain available. ★and receiver of the land dues forNacogdoches County, secretary of the This article was written by Sarah Tober of the THC’s Marketing Communications Division.treasury for the Republic of Texas, alocal banker, and a prominent landagent. Starr County was namedafter him. Dr. Starr bought 52 acres on the Background: Four generations of Starr family members livededge of Marshall in 1870, establishing at Maplecroft, the familythis site as the family’s home. He mansion built in the 1870s.resided there with his wife Harriet Inset: Portrait of Jamesand their granddaughters, and Franklin Starr.provided property for his children tocreate homes for their own families. Preservation design work isnow underway at the property’sarchitectural centerpiece, Maplecroft,which housed four Starr familygenerations. Though the conservationeffort will require the structure tobe temporarily closed to thepublic, it is vital for extendingits life and use. Starr Family Home State Historic Site A number of factors 407 W. Travis St., Marshall, TXcontribute to the deterioration 903.935.3044of old houses including years www.visitstarrfamilyhome.comof weathering, wear and tear Open: Tues.–Sun., 10 a.m.–4 inhabitants and visitors,TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION 18