Heritage, Volume 2, Number 4, Fall 1985

Museum Researches Past
Laguna Gloria Art Museum in Austin,
while remaining one of the city's
most esteemed architectural landmarks,
is also growing to fill the
needs of an expanding and dynamic
population.
In an effort to preserve the rich legacy
of the museum while still planning
for the future and a new downtown
facility, museum staff are
asking citizens knowledgeable about
the history of Laguna Gloria to participate
in an oral history project.
Extensive research is already underway
that focuses on the social and
contextual history surrounding the
museum building and grounds, its
original owners and architect, and
its development as a cultural arts
institution.
Museum officials hope to establish
contact with individuals having personal
recollections of the development
of the building. In particular,
they seek documents, photographs,
original architectural plans, and measured
drawings of the Mediterraneanstyle
villa, and site plans of the Italia-,
nate gardens.
The museum, located near the winding
Colorado River, has long been
considered one of Austin's most cherished
spots. Built by Clara Driscoll
and her husband Hal Sevier in 1916,
the home was designed by San Antonio
architect Harvey Page. The
couple moved from the residence in
1929 and the house remained vacant
for many years. In 1943, Driscoll
deeded the property to the Texas Fine
Arts Association, but it was not until
1966 that the property was transferred
to the newly created Laguna
Gloria Art Museum, Inc.
To submit information relating to the
original appearance of the house,
contact Sharon Greenhill or Debbie
Reed at (512) 478-7742.
Quilters Organize Network
Handmade quilts represent not only
the beauty of traditional art and craft;
they are also historically significant
and deserving of recognition as an
important facet in women's work and
studies.
A newly formed group in Texas is
seeking to document and preserve
quilts in our state. The Texas Heritage
Quilt Society hopes to create an
ongoing, nonprofit network of guilds,
quilters, and others interested in uncovering
the history of quilts and
quilt makers in Texas. The group is

conducting a Texas Heritage Quilt
Search to find pre-1950 Texas quilts,
and also plans to sponsor a Texas
Quilters Oral History Project; to develop
a standard documentation process
for quilts in Texas; and to sponsor
workshops on quilt history, fabric
dating, and oral history skills.
Sanctioned by the Texas Sesquicentennial
Commission, the society is
working with several museums and
the Baylor University Institute for
Oral History, and is eager to work
with other interested institutions. The
group is also working in conjunction
with the American Quilt Study
Group to develop a national, centralized
archive of quilts.
To receive additional information on
this newly organized group, contact
the Texas Heritage Quilt Society,
P.O. Box 5342, Kingwood, TX
77325, (713) 358-1639.
"Independence"

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On March 2, 1836, the Republic of
Texas was born when 59 men met
at Washington-on-the-Brazos and
signed the Texas Declaration of Independence.
Now, for your viewing
pleasure, the Texas Parks and Wildlife
Department brings this historic
event to life.
Sanctioned as the official film of the
Sesquicentennial, "Independence"
was conceived and developed by the
Parks and Wildlife staff to depict the
whole story surrounding the declaration
of independence from Mexico.
Producer-director Jim Presnal, Jr.
and his crew felt that the events leading
up to the declaration had never
been accurately portrayed in any
form of media presentation.
Focusing on the events of the Convention
of 1836, the film is a docudrama
based on fact, but utilizing
dramatic dialogue to tell the story.
The end result is a thirty-minute condensation
of the seventeen days in
March of 1836 when independence
was declared in Washington while the
Alamo was falling in Bexar.

"Independence" was planned to
serve as a permanent exhibit at Washington-on-the-Brazos
State Historical
Park. The parksite encompasses most
of the Texas town that was the birthplace
of the Republic. Now that the
film has been shot, however, the
Parks and Wildlife staff has decided
to send the film throughout the state.
They hope to distribute it to theaters,
schools, television, and other markets
as their Sesquicentennial birthday
gift. The film will be shown at
the State Fair in Dallas this October.
For more information contact Jim
Presnal at the Texas Parks and Wildlife
Department, 4200 Smith School
Road, Austin, TX 78744.
National Trust Update
On Tuesday, June 25, preservationists
from around the state met in
Austin to form a resource for local
preservation groups for statewide
lobbying and information network
purposes. Representatives of local
preservation organizations in Abilene,
Beaumont, Galveston, Georgetown,
Houston, Austin, Brenham,
Fort Worth, Dallas, Montgomery,
San Antonio, and Victoria met with
members of the staffs of the Texas
Historical Commission and the
Texas/New Mexico Field Office of
the National Trust to hear information
on the latest state and federal
legislation affecting preservation and
appropriations for preservation, innovative
neighborhood preservation
programs in Galveston, and state
leasing of historic buildings in Texas
towns and cities.
The group billed itself as the first informal
gathering of Preservation
Texas and agreed to meet again
within the next six to eight months.
The need for a statewide information
and lobbying network in Texas specifically
targeted toward preservation
concerns is especially critical in
times of state and federal budget cuts
and ever growing numbers of preservation
activities across the state.
Libby Barker will be heading a
steering committee composed of Jim
Bratton of the Historic Preservation
League, Lin Owen of the Beaumont
Heritage Society and Richard Dillard
of the Abilene Preservation
League to study the future directions
of Preservation Texas and set the next
meeting date and discussion topics.
Bratton has been particularly instrumental
in the initial establishment of
Preservation Texas, and his encouragement
will continue to make the
group a true preservation resource
for the Historic Preservation League
and for similar preservation organizations
around the state.

Renovation
The 99-year-old, Victorian-style
Brackenridge Villa located on Incarnate
Word College's campus in San
Antonio, Texas, is being restored
after suffering extensive fire damage
in 1983.
The San Antonio landmark is named
after its builder and first owner, Col.
George Brackenridge, one of the
city's founding fathers. Listed in the
National Register of Historic Places,
the Villa was going through a renovation
project in 1983 when the accidental
fire destroyed the interior.
Total restoration costs will reach $1.3
million. A majority of the costs are
being absorbed by the $800,000 insurance
settlement. The remaining
$500,000 is being raised by the College
with the assistance of a committee
of San Antonio citizens. Antiques
and artifacts that reflect the historical
period of the Villa also are being solicited
from the community.
The three-story Villa is the only one
of Brackenridge's four San Antonio
residences still in its original condition.
It also is one of the only examples
of Victorian-style architecture
left in the city.
In 1897, Brackenridge sold the Villa
and the surrounding 280-acre estate
located at the headwaters of the San
Antonio River to the Sisters of
Charity of the Incarnate Word. It
served as a convent for the sisters until
the early 1900s. It was then used
as a residence for priests who served
the religious congregation and the
College as chaplains.
The restoration process will be
finished by the summer of 1986 by
F. W. Riesenecker Co., general contractor.
Jack Duffin of Robert Callaway
Corp. did the architectural plans
based on the Villa's original drawings.
The public rooms encompassing the
library, dining room, coffee room,
and foyer of the Villa will be restored
to their original beauty. The larger
parlor of the Sweet Homestead and
the connecting solarium will also be
restored. All of these public rooms,
enhanced by a complete renovation
of the kitchen-pantry area, will
be used for public meetings and
receptions.
The upstairs bedrooms of the Villa
and the bedrooms and basement of
the Sweet Homestead will be renovated
to house the offices of the institutional
advancement division of
IWC.
For more information, call (512)
828-1261, ext. 288.

HERITAGE * Fall 1985

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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 2, Number 4, Fall 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45445/. Accessed May 22, 2015.