Thursday, August 11, 2016

Who owns the cemetery?

I recently posted on my Small Simple Things of Life blog about a recent visit to a cemetery where many of my mother's relatives are buried (Going Back).  As a child I visited family cemeteries at least once each year, sometimes more.  Today, thankfully, all are still well maintained by loving community members; I try to visit at least every few years and am grateful for Google maps to point me along the way as well as those loving souls that have put up easy to see signs and markers to follow when you get off the main road. I have lamented over relatives from the ex's side of the family that are buried in a small town where the cemetery is cared for by the city, but there are no family members to come and check on the graves from time to time. 

The Texas Historical Commission's blog has featured a short article on cemeteries titled Cemetery Queries. The article gives a brief description of how small cemeteries formed and what can happen after they are abandoned or are no longer in the ownership of the original land owner. Cemeteries don't qualify for maintenance funding, but they can qualify for restoration and educational project grant monies. Cemeteries play a very important role in preserving our past for future generations to understand.





Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Goddess and the Lady



I honestly thought that I had published this close to the time I published the Navarro County Coourthouse post.  However, I didn't.  I did put it on Small Simple Things of Life, so Click Here to Read the Post and find about the Goddess of Liberty and Lady Justice!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Restored Navarro County Courthouse

A recent post featured the Navarro County Courthouse and a subsequent post featured the Lady Justice statue that guards the entrance of the courthouse.  The courthouse was dedicated a few weeks ago and offered an open house after the ceremony.  Although I was close by in Dallas the timing just didn't work for me (and I had a dog that probably would not have been allowed inside the building even though he is cleaner than most humans and very well behaved). 

Thankfully, the Texas Historic Commission has shared a short film clip of the dedication and scenes of the stunning interior as well as a description of the columns made using the scagliola method and the little trick they played on a structural engineer!  Lady Justice is also featured with an interesting proposal that her disappearance came when she was donated to the war effort.  Click the link below:

Restored Navarro County Courthouse

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Patti Welder Middle School (Victoria Junior High)

Patti Welder passed away in 1917 just short of her 18th birthday.  Her father, John J Welder, donated 25 acres to the school board in her memory with the stipulation that her name would always remain with the property. A school bond election was held and Patti Welder High School was completed during the 1918-1919 school year.  In 1925 the school board created Victoria College and the College would be housed on the property until they re-located to their own property in 1948. In addition, the district’s administrative offices were located here.
 

Victoria’s growing population necessitated the addition of more buildings to accommodate the needs of students.  By 1936 it was a sprawling maze of buildings.  In 1936 a new building was added to house Victoria Junior High School.  It housed the administration, a library and four classrooms.  By 1939 another addition was needed.  Two plaques located on either side of one of the front entrances confirm that both buildings were built under the auspices of the New Deal.

In 1949 a new high school was built and named Victoria High School. With the high school and college being relocated Victoria Junior High was the sole occupant of the property and the school was renamed Patti Welder Junior High to fulfill the stipulation that her name remain with the property. By 1961 the campus was in need of serious renovation and a bond election was approved. Several buildings, including the 1918 high school building, were razed and a new wing added to the existing 1936 building along with a new gymnasium, shop, and cafeteria.
 
Most of the school was destroyed by a lightening caused fire on February 10, 1985.  Pictures from the fire paint a grim picture. The school was rebuilt; however, more research is needed to determine what features other than the fa├žade remain from the original buildings.
 

 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Navarro County Courthouse

The 1905 Navarro County Courthouse in Corsicana, Texas, is in the final stages of a renovation/restoration project that is returning it to its original layout and design. The two-year project is close to being completed.  There have been some surprises and setbacks as the work progressed, but the contractor referred to them as "the nature of the beast" in historic restoration projects. Craftsman of all kinds have applied their skills to every inch of the courthouse. (Corsicana Daily Sun November 30, 2015)

This is Navarro County's fifth courthouse.  Corsicana was named the county seat in 1848 and a log cabin served as the courthouse until a permanent courthouse was built at this site in 1853; 2 years later it would burn and then be re-built. Interestingly, one account of the fire that I read revealed that the fire was an act of arson by criminals who were attempting to destroy the record of their indictments! An elaborate courthouse was completed in 1880 and condemned in 1904 after problems with the foundation shifting. 
 
 
 
J.E. Flanders of Dallas designed the 1905 building in the Beaux Arts Classical Revival style. Built of Burnet red granite and grey bricks its original cost came in at $175,000. A 1964 renovation cost approximately $350,000. The current project is partially funded by a $7.5 million bond referendum passed in 2013 of which $4.7 million was a local match for a Round VII $4.4 million Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program grant. Total costs will probably come in somewhat higher as there was the discovery of extensive plaster damage to the walls in addition to the added cost of adding a fire suppression system to bring the building into compliance with city codes. 
 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

McNay Art Museum (Marion Koogler McNay house)


The doors of Marion Koogler McNay's home still welcome visitors today just as they did when the home was completed in 1929.  Upon her death in 1950 she left her home, the 23 surrounding acres and her extensive art collection to be preserved as an art museum. Her goal was to make her museum "a place of beauty with the comforts and warmth of a home."
The entrance hall

The 24 room Spanish Colonial-Revival house was designed by San Antonio architects Atlee and Robert Ayers. Mrs. McNay closely supervised every detail of the design and construction. She designed and applied stencils, tiles and other decorative touches such as antique wrought-iron lamps and chandeliers.
 
 

 
The McNay Art Musuem opened in 1954 as the first museum of modern art in Texas; the attached Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions was opened in 2008.


Mrs. McNay paid equal attention to the planning of the gardens around the home.  A beautiful courtyard with Koi pond and outdoor fireplace offers a serene spot to stop for a few quiet minutes.

The McNay curates almost 20,000 pieces of art, including the core 700 pieces of Mrs. McNay's collection.  Viewers are delighted with Picasso, Monet, and Van Gough as well as works by modern artists.
Currently on exhibit is this rendering of an artist's studio.  Everything is made with cardboard, glue, and black paint.  No detail is overlooked.  Delightful!
 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Looks like it is saved!

Last post I shared the plight of a Victorian home in Dallas, Texas that was about to be demolished to make room for a Time Warner Cable hub and parking lot.  I was happy to read this week that Time Warner has agreed to move the structure to another nearby location.  Congratulations to preservationists and city leaders who rallied together to convince Time Warner to stop the demolition.  The Dallas Morning News City Blog has details as well as pictures of the inside of the delightful home read here

I'm hoping the story continues with the relocation and successful restoration of the home.  So far, so good!