Heritage, Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1988 Page: 4
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FROM THE EDITOR
When we think about the business of
preserving historic sites and structures,
our thoughts generally tend to the
impractical. We focus on beauty, on
preserving our past, and on all the subjective
devices that motivate us to save
historical images. Instinctively, those
concerned with preservation know
there must be some benefit in having
historically important or architecturally
significant buildings preserved.
They are enjoyable to look at, and we
sense this visual enjoyment should
benefit the community. It does, and this
benefit can be defined objectively. Historic
preservation has a very practical
component frequently overlooked by
both its critics and proponents-the
financial gains it can produce-and its
best measure is in the tourist dollars.
Texas is large enough to be a respectably-sized
country. Because of its
unique heritage and Texans' pride in
their state, many look upon us as though
we were still a republic. That doesn't
answer why they would come for a visit,
though. There were two surveys done
on this subject, in 1976 and again in
1985, asking tourists why they traveled
to Texas. In the 1976 survey, 54.6% said
they came to see historical attractions.
In 1985, that figure went up to 67%.
That should certainly give pause to
anyone considering the demolition of
some structure with historical significance.
Obviously, if the Alamo were the
site of a drive-in bank or parking lot, one
could hardly visualize it as an important
tourist attraction for San Antonio.
Tourism is the second largest business in
Texas. It provided more than $17 billion
in revenues and 28,000 jobs in
1986. Statistically, that means historic
sites and their preservation are responsible
for bringing $8 to $9 billion to the
The Texas Historical Commission
has done an in-depth study of its expenditures
in the marker program, the Main
Street program, in archaeology and on
museums. They have estimated the
total economic benefit of their programs
result in a total annual amount to
the state of $56 million. In the past,
many of the same programs were as
sisted through the efforts of the Texas
Historical Foundation. For every dollar
invested in these programs, the state
receives better than $300 in return. For
a state pondering a rather uncertain
future, and living on the hopes of the oil
industry, tourism points a very clear way
out of an economic malaise.
Forgetting the aesthetics of preservation,
it's good business-and business
we need more of. The state recently
devoted some money to advertising
tourism, and has also formed a so-called
Department of Commerce to attract
new businesses and jobs. The Texas
Parks and Wildlife Department gets
some tax revenues for preservation.
Otherwise, little or no money is being
appropriated to the preservation of important
historical sites. If done, this
could immediately and favorably impact
our economy. It would be a worthwhile
venture for the state to join hands
with non-profit organizations across
Texas to identify historic sites with
obvious tourist appeal. It could then
embark on a plan of preserving, renovating
and accommodating these facilities
for tourist enjoyment. The results
would be practical, positive and profitable.
We can preserve our past, we can
make the present more attractive, and
we can ensure a new prosperity for all
Texans. We've been endowed with a
unique historical heritage. Now is the
time to profit from it.
The Texas Historical Foundation
gratefully acknowledges the support of
its corporate and private sponsors for
underwriting the production costs of
HERITAGE for 1988.
The Dodge Jones Foundation, Abilene
Bill Bailey, Jacksonville
Mr. & Mrs. J. P. Bryan, Houston
John Bums, Albany
Mr. & Mrs. Clifton Caldwell, Albany
Mr. & Mrs. Lloyd Jary, Jr.,
F. Lee Lawrence, Tyler
Mr. & Mrs. H. L. Long, Kilgore
Mitchell Martin, San Antonio
Mr. & Mrs. A-rgyle McAllen, Linn
Mr. & Mrs. James McElwain, Dallas
John Middleton, Liberty
Russell Pickering, Houston
Mrs. Camilla Trammell, Houston
Dr. Idris Traylor, Jr., Lubbock
Rosine Wilson, Beaumont
William P. Wright, Abilene
12180-A Burnet Road
Austin, Texas 78758
...proud to be a part of Heritage
Joni Mundey, owner
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1988, periodical, Summer 1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45434/m1/4/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.