acquire land and plan the building. This was with the full approval
and cooperation of the Department of Public Safety and its director,
Colonel Homer Garrison, Jr.
I made this emergency recommendation after determining that
there was insufficient space for extensive book and document storage
in the new Courts Building then under construction, and on advice
that another temporary move of the archives would be highly un-
desirable. In a special 1957 budget message to the legislature, I said:
In my opinion, one of the most priceless treasures of the people of Texas will
continue to suffer damage and possible destruction as long as the archives, Texas
history collection, and historical records remain housed in a quonset hut in the
repair yards of the Highway Department. I visited this building ... and could
hardly believe that the Texas Declaration of Independence, the Travis letter written
in the Alamo and many other priceless documents are crowded into a vault which
is only fire resistant.
The gas stoves remain on all night in the corrugated iron building, and they are
so close to some of the books and records that the paper is hot to the touch, and
the damage is readily apparent. I believe that every member of the legislature who
visits the repair yards of the Highway Department to see these archives will be
convinced that this part of our Texas heritage deserves better treatment and that
we should not allow this disgraceful condition to continue.
The legislature did agree and promptly adopted H. B. 62 by
Representative Raymond Russell, Jr., of San Antonio, providing for
the $2.5 million transfer to finance the building. It was designed
also to include space for the state's General Land Office, which
contains some of our most valuable historical records.
I signed the bill May 22, 1957, with a century-old pen furnished
by Walter Long, and after thorough and extensive research and
planning, we held ground-breaking ceremonies on May 11, 1959, and
work began. As chairman of the State Building Commission, it was
my privilege to work with other members, our staff, the State Library
and Historical Commission, the architects, advisory groups and other
historical, library and patriotic organizations in every step in the
planning and construction of this building.
Its beauty, dignity, and practical usefulness are worthy of its role
as custodian of the sacred records of our history, past, present
The architect who designed the famous Tennessee archives and
library building and the Tennessee state librarian and archivist
have inspected it and expressed the opinion that it is the most
beautiful and efficient they have ever seen. Other experts have ex-
pressed similar views.
The dedication of this building today marks another step in the
development of a capitol area master plan for a coordinated state
governmental center. The State Office Building and the Texas Em-
ployment Commission Building to the north of us and the Courts
Building to the west were completed in 1959. The State Insurance
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed September 1, 2014.