Heritage, 2010, Volume 1 Page: 24
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Most Endangered Texas Historical Sites Named
With the Texas Capitol as a backdrop,
Preservation Texas, a historical preserva-
tion advocacy group, announced its 2010
list of the Lone Star State's most endan-
gered historic sites on February 4.
+Austin Woman's Club, Austin, Travis
Also known as Bellevue Place and the North-
Evans Chateau or Chateau Bellevue
The Austin Woman's Club, designed by
San Antonio architect Alfred Giles in
1874, was constructed as a two-story plus
basement residence known as Bellevue
Place. It was built on the bluff of Shoal
Creek in a residential neighborhood west
of downtown Austin.
Giles remodeled the home 20 years later
for a subsequent owner, Major Ira Hobart
Evans, into a French Romanesque struc-
ture complete with crenellation and but-
tressed walls. Major Evans was a Civil War
veteran and a co-founder of the American
National Bank in Austin. In 1870, he was
elected speaker of the Texas House of
Representatives and was the youngest per-
son to serve in this position. Evans worked
to secure education for newly freed slaves
and helped to establish and fund Tillotson
College, currently known as Huston-
In 1929, the Austin Woman's Club pur-
chased the building from the Evans' estate.
The founding members, including
Governor Miriam A. Ferguson, joined
with other groups to secure a place for
women to gather, learn, and network.
Since then, the Club has been integral to
the civic and social life of Austin. The
Club added a dining wing in 1960 and
continued to maintain the original struc-
ture including the interior wood finishes.
The Austin Woman's Club building suf-
fers from deterioration and antiquated
infrastructure. The mortar in the lime-
stone has deteriorated, allowing water to
seep into the walls of the building, which
has compromised the structural integrity
in certain areas. The building's electrical
system needs to be replaced, and central
air conditioning needs to be installed. Like
many civic organizations, the Club's mem-
bers struggle to preserve their historic
headquarters while continuing their lega-
cy of serving the community.
+Brazos Drive-In Theater, Granbury,
Known as "Texas' Finest Small-Town
Drive-In Theater," the Brazos Drive-In
opened in 1952 on U.S. Highway 377,
which, at that time, was the edge of
Granbury. Constructed with local materi-
als by businessmen to lure people into
town, the drive-in was one of the few
entertainment venues in Granbury and
Hood County. When it opened, the drive-
in had the latest in projection and sound
equipment, and, today, all the features of
the drive-in remain on the original five-
At their heyday in the 1950s, there were
approximately 400 drive-in theaters in
Texas and, today, the Brazos Drive-In is
one of 12 remaining in operation. Drive-
ins decreased in popularity as the televi-
sion became more affordable and with the
invention of the VCR. The Brazos Drive-
In is popular and beloved by Granbury
residents; however, it suffers from low
attendance, high property taxes, and
increased overhead. Surrounding develop-
ment is encroaching on the property, and
lights from the adjacent high school foot-
ball stadium disrupt movies.
+Herff Farm, Boerne, Kendall County
In Central Texas, large farmsteads are
threatened by encroaching development
and a lack of family members able to carry
on the tradition. Located near Boerne, the
Herff Farm is an example of the original
farmsteads that were founded in the Texas
Hill Country by German immigrants.
In 1852, Dr. Ferdinand Herff acquired
large tracts of land at the confluence of
Menger and Cibolo Creeks. Eventually,
the farmstead grew to be 10,000-acres. Dr.
Herff, a physician based in San Antonio,
maintained the farm as a summer home
until 1894, when his son, Charles, moved
from San Antonio to manage the property
until the early 1920s. In 1935, George and
Erma Rozelle purchased 68 acres from
Charles Herffs son.
Today, the 62-acre Herff Farm is located
in the Cibolo Conservation Corridor, and
the property was last occupied in the mid-
1980s. The family home, a two-story,
limestone built in 1883, remains intact
along with agricultural and domestic
structures. In 2007, the Cibolo Nature
Center began the acquisition of the Herff
Farm in an effort to protect and preserve
Texas is losing much of its farm and
ranch land to sprawling, unchecked subur-
ban development that is affecting water
quality and wildlife conservation in
Central Texas. The Nature Center has
fought many battles, including the con-
struction of a sewer plant on the site and
highway bypasses, and will continue to
work to promote the awareness of the
Farm as a natural and historic treasure.
+Downtown Austin's Historic Assets,
Austin, Travis County
Increased population and falling tax
revenues challenge Texas' urban areas,
adding difficulty to the task of preserving a
community's cultural heritage.
The Central Texas economy has experi-
enced a boom in recent years, a trend that
is obvious in downtown Austin. Cranes
perched atop the skyline, as developers
scrambled to build taller and more dra-
matic buildings. The City Council
embraced and encouraged increased den-
sity in the city's core as a means of reduc-
ing urban sprawl.
In 2007, the council began to draft a
downtown development plan that encour-
ages downtown density but fails to provide
protection for most historic sites, includ-
ing the Capitol View Corridors and mid-
century buildings. Preservationists have
urged the city to articulate a vision for
Austin that includes the preservation of its
historic buildings. As the city continues to
grow, the pressure on the small-scale his-
toric buildings can only increase.
The downside is demolition. The possi-
bility of the destruction of historic struc-
tures increases dramatically in times of
prosperity, when the pursuit of wealth
tends to outweigh the desire to preserve
history. Grand new development projects
overshadow the foundations of our neigh-
borhoods' heritage. Austin has been just
such a place for almost a generation. The
HERITAGE Volume 1 2010
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2010, Volume 1, periodical, 2010; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254216/m1/24/: accessed January 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.