From western forts to Victorian mansions and pivotal battlegrounds, the Texas Historical Commission's 20 state historic sites exemplify a breadth of Texas history. Come explore the real stories at the real places.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The THC Opens New (Social) Sites

By Rob Hodges, THC Social Media Coordinator

The Texas Historical Commission (THC) has recently opened three new sites—this time in the realm of social media. Last month, the official THC Facebook page was launched, and we followed it up last week with pages on Twitter and photo-sharing app Instagram. The new pages are a dynamic way for the THC to engage new audiences, expand public and media relations, and participate in the ongoing conversations about historic preservation in Texas that are taking place on social media platforms.

THC's new Facebook page
While not exclusively about the THC’s 20 historic sites, the new social media pages regularly highlight projects and events at the sites and cross-promote the sites across the various THC programs. For example, the cover image (or banner) on the THC Facebook page is swapped out occasionally to highlight certain events, such as the current image announcing the grand opening of the Fulton Mansion Education and History Center on Thursday, August 30.

THC's new Twitter page

The THC Facebook page has become a daily source of preservation news and community activity about the agency’s programs, events, and partnerships. With the new presence on Twitter and Instagram, we are expanding our ability to provide breaking news, real-time coverage, and visual content from our sites and the preservation community. The Instagram photos (which are posted on Twitter and featured in a feed on the Facebook page accessed by a “Staff Instagrams” tab at the top of the page) are a chance for our staff to share photos of THC- and history-related sites throughout the state. It provides an opportunity for the preservation community to see some of the great statewide projects and programs the THC is involved in, including the agency’s 20 state historic sites, historical markers, National Register of Historic Places properties, Main Street shops, historic courthouses, and historic cemeteries.

Here are a few of the new Instagram photos:

In addition to these social media pages, the THC has individual Facebook pages for nine of its historic sites, as well as its historical marker program. The Casa Navarro State Historic Site, National Museum of the Pacific War, and the historical marker program also have Twitter feeds (follow them at @CasaNavarroSA, @NimitzMuseum, and @THCmarkers, respectively). These pages will continue in addition to the THC’s centralized pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Additional social media platforms will be coming later this year.

The nine historic sites with Facebook pages are:
•    Casa Navarro
•    Fort Griffin
•    Fort McKavett
•    Fulton Mansion
•    Magoffin Home
•    National Museum of the Pacific War
•    Sam Bell Maxey House
•    Sam Rayburn House Museum
•    Starr Family Home

Join the conversations taking place about the historic sites and other THC programs on social media. Be sure to “Like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter at @TxHistComm or Instagram at Texas Historical Commission. As new media platforms come and go, we intend to adapt and remain part of the ongoing and important preservation conversations—wherever they are happening. The past meets the present as the THC tells the real stories about the real places in Texas history in a brand new way.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fulton Mansion Prepares for Upcoming Preservation Work

By Ellen Garrett Colfax, AIA, Historic Sites Architect

In preparation for a major preservation project on the Fulton Mansion State Historic Site in Rockport, John Volz, AIA, LEED AP of Volz and Associates, Inc. and Pat Sparks, PE and Jeff Kobes of Sparks Engineering performed investigations and testing in May to determine the location and extent of structural damage due to moisture penetration within the walls of the mansion, as well as the locations of water infiltration within the basement.

Investigations included infrared radiation thermography (IRT), a nondestructive technique to detect areas of moisture intrusion in the walls and roof. These investigations were achieved using a hand-held thermal imager. The imager captures infrared radiation readings in solid materials to show differences in temperature and dew point. Photos taken with the imager, shown below, reveal the presence of moisture by depicting the differences in temperature in color.

Based on the findings from the IRT work, wood samples were drilled and extracted for laboratory testing to establish if they were infected with fungi. In addition, visual inspections were made into the drilled holes in the walls using a borescope.

At the investigative team’s request, THC staff members Robert Field and Dusty Fritts excavated a pit to the bottom of the foundation wall’s footing at the building’s northeast corner. There the team observed the existing condition of the foundation wall in relation to the level of the water table, which fluctuates with the season.

Moisture emission tests were also conducted inside the mansion’s basement to measure moisture content in the walls and floor. The basement is prone to periodic flooding and the preservation work will address the causes and implement strategies to keep the basement dry.

Currently, the findings from these tests are being used to prepare drawings and specifications for the upcoming preservation work. Throughout the construction work, the furnishings and collections within the mansion will be carefully protected and the mansion will be closed to visitors. The new Fulton Mansion Education and History Center, opening on Aug. 30 and located directly behind the mansion at Henderson and Nancy Ann streets, will remain open to the public.

Fulton Mansion is located in the resort area of Rockport-Fulton, 30 miles north of Corpus Christi. The site is part of the Texas Tropical Trail Region.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Medina Lake Book Signing at Landmark Inn

By Jose Zapata, Landmark Inn Site Manager

The Friends of the Landmark Inn hosted a book signing at Landmark Inn State Historic Site last month. Medina Lake is the work of Rebecca Huffstutler Norton and Karen Downing Ripley, and is the latest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series.

The book is a pictorial history that features more than 200 vintage photos and provides readers with a unique opportunity to reconnect with the history that shaped Medina County. The authors’ presentation of their publication was very timely, as Medina Lake will celebrate its 100th anniversary next month.

Ripley is a Medina Lake resident and business owner, and serves as vice president of the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District. Norton is executive director of the Frontier Times Museum in Bandera. Norton has published with Arcadia before. Her first book, Bandera County, was published in 2010.

Several area residents were in attendance and listened as the authors discussed the process of collecting the many photos and stories that went into their book. The audience shared their own fond memories of growing up in the Medina Lake area.

The Medina Lake Dam Centennial Celebration will be held Saturday, August 25. Visit Medina Lake Preservation Society for further details.

The Friends of the Landmark Inn will host another book signing at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 15 for the book Medina County Texas Quilts, by Bonnie Keller and Madelyn Van De Walle. Landmark Inn State Historic Site is located in Castroville, approximately 20 miles west of San Antonio, in the Texas Hill Country Trail Region.