Heritage, Volume 13, Number 2, Spring 1995 Page: 9
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eritage tourism is one of the most
popular reasons why people travel
through Texas each year. It is certainly
one of the major reasons that last
year nearly four million visitors came
through the beautiful Hill Country town of
San Marcos, located 30 miles from Austin.
Historic tourism and its appeal to travelers
is on the rise, and those involved in the
field of preservation have joined forces
with those from the tourism industry in
San Marcos to make sure that visitors to
the area are aware of their city's historical
sites and its heritage.
Preservation work in San Marcos began
many years ago and continues today under
the watchful guidance of the Heritage Association
of San Marcos, Inc. In fact, the
Heritage Association, led by local historian
and longtime San Marcan Frances
Stovall, and the San Marcos Convention
and Visitors Bureau have worked hand-inhand
throughout the years promoting the
town's historical homes and districts to
tourists. Phil Neighbors, president of the
San Marcos Chamber of Commerce, notes
that the Heritage Association and the San
Marcos Convention and Visitors Bureau
share a closer alliance today than ever
before. Neighbors claims that the hard work
of the Heritage Association, an organization
that he calls the "backbone of historic
preservation and promotion in San Marcos"
has added another vital dimension to the
town's tourism industry. "In addition to the
parks, rivers, visitor attractions, and shops
and restaurants in our area, the historic
sites here help round out the overall tourist
He continued, "Mrs. Stovall and her
devoted supporters are the reason that San
Marcos has so much preserved in the way
of architectural history. We are proud of
our history in San Marcos and are fortunate
that so much of it has been preserved
for the locals and tourists to enjoy." Finally,
he added, "In addition to the intrinsic
benefits that these historic sites afford
our community, they have also helped to
increase the economic impact of tourism
on the area."
The historic attractions of San Marcos
can be divided into the three stately historic
districts that are of primary interest to
tourists. These districts are clearly marked
in the San Marcos Visitors Guide, which is
distributed free of charge to thousands of
visitors each year and available to all
through the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce.
The Belvin Street District, a concentration
of large and lovely Victorian style
homes built in the 1880s and the 1890s,
was dedicated as a National Register District
in 1985. The homes there have been
lovingly and tastefully restored by the
present owners, and most of the homes are
recorded as Texas Historic Landmarks.
Some of them are open to the public once
a year during the annual "Tours of Distinction".
This popular, annual historic homes
tour takes place during the first weekend in
May. It is a project of the Heritage Association,
and this year the "Tours of Distinction"
is scheduled for the afternoons of
May 6 and 7.
"IN ADDITION TO THE INTRINSIC BENEfITS
THAT TfHES HISTORIC SITES AffORD OUR
COMMUNITY, THEY HAVE ALSO HELPED TO
MAKE A SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC IMPACT
ON THE ARA..AND HELP ROUND OUT THE
OVERALL TOURIST EXPERIENCE."
In traveling from the Belvin Street district
to the San Antonio Street district,
tourists are encouraged to travel down
Hopkins Street. At the corner of Hopkins
and Johnson Streets stands the Augustus
Voges Hofheinz House, an elegant threestory
home built in 1908 by craftsman,
Horace Leffingwell. The home still has the
original leaded glass doors imported from
France and houses a collection of more than
4,000 dolls. Tours of the home are arranged
through the Heritage Association.
Another must see for tourists interested
in history is located at 326 West Hopkins
Street. It is the earliest remaining Victorian
house in San Marcos, built in 1883 by
Judge W.D. Wood, and remodeled in 1906
into the Classic Revival style of today.
Tourists can personally experience the grace
and charm of this magnificent two-story
showplace, now operating as a bed and
The second area that beckons tourists
interested in history is the San Antonio
Street Historic District. It is another charming
San Marcos street lined with lovely
homes and interesting stories of the people
who lived there. Because these homes are
private residences and not open to the
public on a regular basis, the Heritage Association
docents guide "windshield tours"
of all the historic districts throughout the
year for motor coaches and vans (by prearrangement).
Delightful costumed docents
share factual accounts of the neighborhoods
and the families who lived there.
The third historic district begins with
the Hays County Courthouse, centerpiece
A costumed docent leads visitors around the Charles S. Cock House Museum in San Marcos. Members of
the Heritage Association of San Marcos Guild serve lunch there on most Fridays during the year. The
limestone cottage was the home of one of the community's early leaders. Opposite page: Restored homes such
as this one, located in San Marcos' Belvin Street Historic District, draw crowds of tourists.
HERITAGE * SPRING 1995 9
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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/m1/9/: accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.