Monday, May 2, 2011

Austin Historical Sites

View Austin Historical Landmarks in a larger map
Gov. Perry recently suggested cutting funds to the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Historical Commission. Both serve Texans throughout the state. TCA provides funding for art education programs in public schools and provides subsidies to art-driven counties for tourism. The Texas Historical Commission provides services to sustain local historical markers, like the Governor’s Mansion, the Thompson Building and the Bremond block featured in this map.

I decided to put together the map of historical places, as well as a walking tour. The area’s not much more than a couple of square blocks, so it’s definitely an easy feat, in spite of the Texas heat.

The first stop is the old Austin Public Library, now the Austin Historical Society. It’s an incredibly ornate building that features a lot of really impressive architectural techniques. Though, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the outside. Despite the dull-looking structure, don’t judge it by its cover. They’ve got a lot going on in there. Right now, they’re featuring an exhibit on SXSW Music Festival. They’ve got archived footage, old art, and everything else you would consider in the history of SXSW-dom.

The Bremond block’s a pretty interesting place. There’s a lot of weird, unknown history. The family moved into the area after the Civil War and competing families attempted to move in throughout the late 19th century. Back then, it was essentially comparable to what Westlake is now — very wealthy, somewhat opulent housing, but for one family.

The final stop, and my personal favorite, is the O. Henry Museum. It’s a remarkable example of historical preservation. Walking in, for lack of a better description, really is like walking back in time. The house has all the original stoves from O. Henry’s tenure there, though they have upgraded to centralized heating and air. But everything seems just how he would’ve left it.

Though all these receive funds from the THC, it’s not their main source of revenue for upkeep. They get a good amount of Austin grants to supplant the already scarce funding that THC gives them. So, don’t worry, they won’t just fall into disrepair. Texas Historical Commission will, however, face budget cuts that slash their current funds in half. And many see this as an infringement upon federal standards to maintain historical markers. So, in response, Gov. Perry has said that he won’t cut half of the funding for programs he calls, “non mission-critical,” but they’ll still have to take a backseat to Medicare, education, and all that other good stuff.

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