View Larger Map
From the 1830s to 1880s
A street improvement project was carried out from 1916-17, paving
Construction of city wide freeways between the 1950s and 1970s continued
Preservation climate in Houston
Adaptive reuse of historic buildings in downtown
Challenges to preservation in Houston are no local zoning ordinance and a weak historic district ordinance without any enforcement. The city planning office serves more as a permit issuing body. A strong local property rights movement prevents stronger ordinances. In this climate developers are allowed to be independent and aggressive with their projects, being so bold as to buy political influence with their money, and politicians being bold enough to claim that they are influenced most by the person with the most money. Despite a much touted spirit of innovation, this often comes with the cost of demolishing older buildings in the name of new development.
The editor of Texas Monthly touched on an important theme of affecting development and preservation in
This theme of change was reinforced in another article where Paul Burka claimed “In Houston, the only thing that’s permanent is that everything is temporary… The result is a freewheeling place that oozes optimism, inspires risk-taking; and rewards improvisation, cleverness and the will to survive.” Taking the weakness of
The Greater Houston Preservation Alliance is the leading advocate of preservation in
Advocacy efforts include annual Good Brick Awards recognizing individuals, businesses, and organizations for outstanding preservation projects and programs, advocacy with local government, Preservation Breakfast Series, and Preservation Week Activities; and communication through a newsletter, GHPA web site, and email Preservation Alerts. Education efforts include technical assistance, Houston Historic Resources Database, Historic Designation Program, Endangered Buildings Committee, Façade Easement Program, Restoration Grants, a salvage program and rehabilitation of two late 19th century houses. GHPA also created the Historic Neighborhoods Council to work to foster positive change that will help to maintain the quality and character of
The Heritage Society was founded in 1959. Today they own and operate a heritage park and interpretive museum in
A nonprofit organization, the Heritage Society provides a broad range of activities including the annual Heritage Ball, Candlelight Tour, travel tours locally abroad, and classes. The Heritage Society has a professional staff supported by volunteers. Tina Breska Medlin was named the organizations new Executive Director on April 1, 2002 and Helen McDonald was named the new Chief Financial Officer and Registrar on March 25, 2002.
While the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance claims to be the only preservation organization in Houston, the Heritage Society through their heritage park and educational activities may be considered a preservation organization as well, similar to Ford’s Greenfield Village or Carnegie’s Colonial Williamsburg.
Several other organizations are involved in preservation at the state level. These include the Texas Preservation Board, founded in 1983 for the purpose of preserving, maintaining, and restoring the State Capitol and the General Land Office Building and their contents and grounds to the benefit of the citizens of
 Fox, Stephen, Nancy Hadley (editor), and Gerald
 Davis, Ramona. Interview with author.
 Burka, Paul, “
 Heritage Society web site, http://www.heritagesociety.org/new_executive_director.html. [Downloaded
 Texas Chapter AIA web site, http://www.texasarchitect.org/society/socinfo.html. [Downloaded