If you've heard what I've heard, from time to time you may believe Houston is the city that tears down it's history. No zoning; the wild west of development. Mid-century moderns bulldozed for McMansions in West Houston day in and day out. And to a certain degree, that is true. Houston has always chased after progress, for better or worse. And in doing so, that progress has brought us the amazing and wonderful things, the space program, the country's best medical center, and world-leading advances in manufacturing and engineering... Should I go on? Now, although there is some truth to Houstonian's throwing their history out on the regular, there are a few amazing organizations working hard to help preserve our rich and pride-filled story. My two particular favorite history-saving organizations are The Daughters of the Republic of Texas and Preservation Houston. I've recently had the pleasure of attending meetings for both organizations and I really have to share with you what it is they're doing to ensure Houston's History is preserved and perpetuated for generations.
Last week, I was invited to a meeting with San Jacinto chapter of The Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Firstly, to become a member of this organization you must show genealogical proof that your ancestors lived in, fought for, or worked on behalf of Texas between the years 1836 and 1845, when it was a Republic. Women in that room have traced their families back to the the depths of Texas History, some of which are direct decedents of Mr. Sam Houston himself, the Republic's first President. Pretty crazy, awesome stuff. Beyond being amazed by the lineage of these women, I was amazed by the work they do every day to preserve that history. The San Jacinto chapter actually meets in an 82 year old log cabin sitting along the west edge of Hermann Park in the shadow of Ben Taub Hospital across from the Houston Zoo. My aunt actually spends one Saturday a month as the Log Cabin's Docent, sharing history lessons with any visitors that stop by. Their mission is to: Perpetuate the memory and spirit of those who achieved and maintained the independence of Texas, among others. Impressive work, ladies! At the meeting they invited Justice Ken Wise to share some nuggets of Texas History. His stories were compelling and funny, and were exact examples of why those of us that grew up in Texas love it so, with such pride. Judge Wise regularly shares Texas History stories on his Podcast, Wise about Texas. Go check it out. You won't be disappointed.
Another organization preserving local history that tugging on my heart-strings in Preservation Houston. This group hits particularly close to home with me because I absolutely love old houses. It's a weird passion of mine. I love imagining a family with children running around, hanging laundry in the back yard, cooking in the kitchen, years of laughter and memories - all the beautiful things witnessed in normal everyday family life. When I walk through an old house or building, it's as if I can see those pictures play out in my head. Y'all I know, I'm not normal.
Nevertheless, this group has been around for 40 years fighting for those old beautiful buildings. They care about those stories just as much as I do. They advocate for historical preservation of Houston's buildings and homes, educate building owners and communities on how to qualify and acquire Historical Designation and Protection, educate the public via walking tours and their annual Good Brick Tour, and they work with local businesses to find alternative options to tearing down older buildings for the sake of preserving a part of our past. They're doing amazing work over there and anyone interested can become a supporting member.
If you're looking for a monthly dose of Houston History with a cocktail on the side, you can also join their young professionals group, Pier & Beam for one of their Happy Hours. I've always enjoyed myself when I've had the chance to go. Maybe I'll see you at one in the future.
So in closing.... WHAT HISTORY? Houston has history and people working hard to save it for the future. We just need to dig in, look for it, and better appreciate it when we come across it.