The Texas Historical Commission (THC), the official state agency for historic
preservation, was created in 1953 by the Texas Legislature. The agency originally was called the Texas State Historical Survey Committee, but was renamed in 1973 when the 63rd Legislature designated it the Texas Historical Commission. The Commission is composed of 18 governor-appointed members and a professional staff that includes historians, archeologists, architects, museum specialists, and experts in many related fields.
The THC provides leadership, coordination, and services to Texas organizations,
agencies, and individuals interested in the preservation of the state's cultural heritage. The agency acts as a clearinghouse for preservation information, sponsors educational and consultation programs, and publishes preservation-related materials. The THC is a premier state preservation agency in the nation because of its innovative programs, its vast statewide network of volunteers, and the leadership it has provided in the national preservation scene.
Besides working with the private sector, the THC is the official liaison with federal
agencies and programs concerning historic preservation in Texas, and administers the National Historic Preservation Act on the state level. The Executive Director serves as the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). Under the National Historic Preservation Act program, the agency surveys sites of historic, architectural, and archeological importance; recommends properties for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places; and reviews federally sponsored projects that might effect National Register properties. More than 50,000 historic structures and sites have
been documented and photographed; these records are accessible to the public at the THC.
The agency's professional staff is organized in the following administrative divisions: Division of Architecture, History Programs,Administration, Marketing & Communications Division and Archeology Division, Community Heritage Development.
The Archeology Division is responsible for administering the archeological programs of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. In this capacity, staff review the impact of federally funded or permitted projects on significant archeological sites, administer the Texas Antiquities Code (TAC), review projects on public lands, develop a statewide plan for the preservation of archeological sites, develop nominations of archeological sites to the National Register of Historic places, and conduct surveys of the statewide inventory of archeological sites the office of state archeologist.
History Programs Division provides assistance and information to 254 county historical commissions and more than 400 heritage organizations across the state, as well as approximately 700 museums. Staff members work closely with community museums to maintain and improve the quality and level of professionalism in order to preserve and interpret Texas history and culture. The division conducts the nationally acclaimed Winedale Museum Seminar and the Texas Historical Commission Annual Historic Preservation Conference. Museum services include individual consultations by phone, correspondence, on-site, or in the offices. Staff make recommendations, references to specialists, provide information and materials, and assist with workshops, seminars, and
conferences. The division also administers a history museums grant program and an awards program for Texas museums. Files are maintained on Texas museums and an extensive mailing list is updated regularly. The History Programs Office includes the State Marker Program. More then 12,000 historical markers, placed through the THC's State Marker Program, dot the Texas landscape. The placement of Official Texas Historical Markers requires close cooperation between the Marker Program staff, county historical commissions, a State Marker Review Board, National Register and other agency divisions.
The Division of Architecture provides technical consultation on the restoration of Texas' historic architectural resources, including commercial and residential structures, bridges, courthouses, and other public landmarks. The division administers the Texas Historic Preservation Grant Program that allocates matching funds to non-profit groups and cities or counties to initiate restoration projects. Through legislation, the THC has preservation oversight of the Governor's Mansion. Preservation tax incentives, the Texas Preservation Trust Fund, deed restrictions, National Historic Landmarks, and public outreach are components of the division.
In carrying out its mandate to implement the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 in Texas on behalf of the U. S. Department of the Interior, the National Register Programs office , now in the history programs division,administers a statewide survey and planning program and the Certified Local Governments program which is designed to recognize high standards of preservation work by local governments. To date, more than 2,000 Texas buildings, sites, objects, and districts have been researched, recorded, and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, which is maintained by the National Park Service in Washington, D. C.
The Office of the State Archeologist (OSA) , part of the Archeology Division is primarily responsible for a statewide
program to inventory, evaluate, preserve, and interpret the archeological resources of Texas for the public. Staff members give lectures, assist landowners with preservation information and conservation advice, and work closely with a statewide network of avocational archeologists who assist in preserving valuable sites and collections. The OSA also produces and distributes three publication series: OSA Regular Reports, OSA Special Reports, and the Living with the Texas Past Series that is aimed at middle school-age children.
The Marketing & Communication Division publishes the bimonthly newsletter The Medallion, which contains educational information and interesting articles about preservation activities taking place throughout the state. This division also provides production services for agency publications, including technical and educational materials concerning archeology, architecture, museum issues, and many other topics. The THC Web site is developed by staff and all marketing initiatives are functions of the division.
The Community Heritage Development division includes the Main Street Program, Certified local government and heritage tourism.In 1980, Texas was one of six states invited to initiate the Main Street Program. The THC was designated as the lead agency and established the Main Street Center to help small cities revitalize their downtowns through restoration of their historic buildings. The CLG program is designed to recognize high standards of preservation work by local governments.
The Military sites Program of the THC is in the Division of Architecture. It is charged with helping to identify, document, commemorate, preserve, and promote sites associated with the military history of Texas, both inside and outside the state. Projects will include heritage tourism maps, monument placement and restoration, publications, tours and workshops on preservation and inteerpretation. Additionally, the program will promote historical designations and work to coordinate public history efforts between existing museums and other agencies that now administer historic sites.
A new program in the History programs division is the Texas Cemetery Program which is addressing the need to preserve our historic cemeteries in Texas. The program provides technical information on the proper methods to record cemeteeries, repairing,k and preserving the historic resources. Small workshops in local cemeteries provide interested groups with hands-on experience insurveying, cleaning and repairing headstones. Sam Rayburn House Msueum in Bonham is under the direction of the Administration Division.