Heritage, Volume 13, Number 2, Spring 1995 Page: 11
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VOLUNTEERS HELP BRING HISTORY TO LIFE IN SAN MARCOS
For 21 years, the Heritage Association
of San Marcos, Inc., has helped make history
come alive for tourists visiting that
Heritage Tourism Coordinator for the
Association, Frances Stovall, one of the
leaders of the preservation movement in
San Marcos, explained that it was in 1974
when the community was attempting to
qualify as a United States Bicentennial
City that the idea of marketing San
Marcos' heritage began to take shape. "In
order to qualify as a Bicentennial City, a
town had to do three things: First, they
had to undertake a project that improved
the environment. Second, they must begin
a heritage project that focused on the
unique history of their town; and finally,
the city was required to begin a new civic
project -- one that had never been tried
The citizens of San Marcos set out to
accomplish these tasks. To improve their
environment, they developed a riverwalk
nature trail, which unites three of the city's
parks, and leads tourists down a scenic path
'alhgside the San Marcos River. The heritage
project they conceived would open
several of the historic buildings and homes
in the area to visitors during an annual
tour. Finally, the original civic project they
planned was a music festival along the
banks of the San Marcos River.
Stovall remembered that the enthusiasm
of the city was overwhelming -- and
contagious. "The energy directed into these
projects was tremendous, and the enthusiasm
snowballed. Everyone felt so proud to
be a part of this effort, and in a town of
22,000 people there was support from
churches, garden groups, businesses, and
San Marcos went on to be named a
United States Bicentennial City, and the
community staged a celebration that is
still spoken of today. Not wishing to let
this enthusiasm and energy be left behind,
the town's leaders instead decided
to harness it and use that momentum as
the springboard for future preservation
activities and programs, many of which
are alive and well today. The city's Bicentennial
Commission became the Heritage
Association of San Marcos, and the
foundation for the future of preservation
in the city was laid.
THE ENTHUSIASM AND ENERGY
GENERATED BY SAN MARCOS'
BICENTENNIAL EFFORTS BECAME THE
SPRINGBOARD FOR FUTURE
PRESERVATION ACTIVITIES AND
PROGRAMS, MANY OF WHICH ARE
ALIVE AND WELL TODAY. THE CITY'S
BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION BECAME
THE HERITAGE ASSOCIATION OF
SAN MARCOS, AND THE FOUNDATION
FOR THE FUTURE OF PRESERVATION IN
THE CITY WAS LAID.
"This is the 21st year that the Heritage
Association has conducted its Tours of
Distinction," noted Stovall, former chair
of the Hays County Historical Commission.
"We have three historic districts in
town, and we are proud to show off these
masterpieces to both the locals and tourists."
In addition to the graceful homes lining
the three historic districts, Stovall
noted that the annual house and building
tour, this year set for May 6 and 7 and
called "Discoveries on Old Fort Street",
also features commercial properties. Four
vintage homes that have never before
been seen by the public are also included
in this year's tour.
While the home tour attracts much
interest and many tourists to the city, the
Heritage Association, an organization
comprised of nearly 700 volunteers, has
several other programs that are also designed
to promote the town's heritage.
Working hand-in-hand with the city's
Convention and Visitors Bureau, the
Heritage Association provides docents at
no charge for San Marcos conventiongoers
wishing to learn more about the
city. On windshield tours through the
town, visitors are told about the history of
the homes and buildings and the families
that lived there.
Stovall explained that it was on one of
these tours, with a Model T automobile
club, that one visiting couple fell in love
with San Marcos. "We had taken the group
through the city, pointing out the fine old
homes and buildings and the beautiful restorations
that had been done on some of
the properties. The couple was so impressed
with what they saw that they returned to
their home, sold their property there, and
came back to San Marcos where they purchased
a 1909 home on Hopkins Street and
began a restoration."
This is a trend that Stovall says is not at
all unusual. In fact, she added that many of
the more recent restorations of historic
older homes have been completed by young
couples who have recently moved to San
Marcos. "We are pleased to have these
young people move in to our community.
They bring much enthusiasm, and the improvements
that they undertake help to
make San Marcos a better place for all of us
to live. In a way, I guess you can say that the
Heritage Association is doing its part to
promote growth in San Marcos."
Another program that the Heritage
Association oversees takes place weekly at
the historic Charles Cock House Museum,
where costumed volunteers serve a tasty
lunch every Friday. Here they feed not
only the stomachs but the minds, too, of
tourists, who learn about the early history
of San Marcos and the more recent preservation
"We take every opportunity that we can
to promote our community. We know without
a doubt that our historic sites are one of
the major reasons why visitors come to San
Marcos," said Stovall, who recently led a
group of freelance writers and newspaper
journalists through some of the historic
homes and buildings in San Marcos. "By
promoting these places, we have helped
instill community pride and create a solid
base for the local economy."
Stovall, who moved to San Marcos 23
years ago after a life of traveling with her
Air Force husband, said "We in San Marcos
are very proud of our community. Our
history is interesting, our buildings are impressive,
and our enthusiasm is contagious.
The members of the Heritage Association
of San Marcos are dedicated to preserving
our city's history and to keeping it alive so
that others may enjoy it as much as we do."
HERITAGE * SPRING 199511
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 13, Number 2, Spring 1995, periodical, Spring 1995; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45410/m1/11/: accessed March 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.