Historic sites in Nacogdoches, Crockett make Texas' 'Most Endang - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Historic sites in Nacogdoches, Crockett make Texas' 'Most Endangered Places' list

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The Clay House in Nacogdoches (Source: KTRE Staff) The Clay House in Nacogdoches (Source: KTRE Staff)
Mary Allen Hall, the last remaining building of Mary Allen Seminary in Crockett: (Source: KTRE Staff) Mary Allen Hall, the last remaining building of Mary Allen Seminary in Crockett: (Source: KTRE Staff)
Mary Allen Museum group in Austin on Tuesday at the announcement of this year's list. Names are as follows (L-R): Jean Shepherd, Thom Lamber, Jesselyn Reese, Chris Von Doenhof, and Barbara Wooten (Source: Jesselyn Reese) Mary Allen Museum group in Austin on Tuesday at the announcement of this year's list. Names are as follows (L-R): Jean Shepherd, Thom Lamber, Jesselyn Reese, Chris Von Doenhof, and Barbara Wooten (Source: Jesselyn Reese)

Two historic sites in Deep East Texas made Preservation Texas' 11th annual list of Texas' 'Most Endangered Places.' The Deep East Texas sites include the Clay House in Nacogdoches and Mary Allen Seminary in Crockett.

Preservation Texas released its Texas' 'Most Endangered Places' list Tuesday.

"The 2014 list is a diverse group of sites that reflect the range of preservation issues that historic places throughout the state are confronting," Evan Thompson, executive director of Preservation Texas, said in a press release. "The sites are cultural, architectural and historic icons that are at imminent risk of disappearing from the landscape. Local grassroots organizations have been working tirelessly in support of these sites. By including them on the 2014 list, we hope to rally Texans statewide to step up and save them by supporting job-creating investments in our state's at-risk historic places."

The Clay House, which is located at 720 Bois d' Arc in Nacogdoches, was built circa 1905, according to Preservation Texas.

"Considered to be the finest house in the Zion Hill Historic District in Nacogdoches, the Clay House, constructed circa 1905, is thought to have been designed by noted local architect Diedrich Rulfs," the press release stated. "Built for Charlie Clay and his family, this structure is an important example of vernacular architecture in one of the most intact early 20th century African-American working class neighborhoods in Texas."

The press release stated that although the Clay House's original porch has been lost, the threatened building retains important architectural detail. According to Preservation Texas, significant repairs would be needed for the Clay House to be converted into a museum "celebrating the contributions of African-Americans to the history of the Zion Hill neighborhood."

Advocates for the preservation of the Clay House are hoping to raise enough money to rebuild its foundation, repair failing structural systems, install a permanent roof, and replace missing architectural elements.

"This small house tells a big story that neighborhoods like Zion Hill are worth preserving," the press release stated.

"We're hoping that kind of lights a fuse in restoring the community as a whole," said Richard Orton, board member of the Nacogdoches African-American Heritage Project.

Located at 803 N. 4th Street in Crockett, Mary Allen Seminary was built circa 1887, according to Preservation Texas. Mary Allen Hall, which is on the crest of a hill a mile north of the town square in Crockett, is the last remaining building of the school for African-American women. The press release stated Mary Allen Hall is a four-story second Empire-style brick building.

Preserving the building has become a joint effort between the Houston County Historical Commission and the Mary Allen Museum group.

"It's our top priority as far as preserving history," said Houston County Historical Commission Chairperson Donita Patrick. "[It's] because of its architectural history. It's black American history it is the most deteriorated of the old structures here in Houston County."

According to Preservation Texas, Mary Allen Seminary was founded by the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen, which was headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The school later became known as Mary Allen College, and it closed in 1972.

"The Mary Allen Museum of African-American Art and History is seeking to restore Mary Allen Hall by reigniting the same spirit of cooperation and goodwill that led to the school's founding," the press release stated. "Having suffered from fire, neglect and natural disasters, the brick walls remain standing while the interior is in a state of collapse. Through careful preservation planning and support for an ongoing capital campaign, it is hoped that Texans will rally to save this architectural and educational landmark."

"I would be afraid to walk anywhere in the site at this point," Patrick said. "If we don't get any funding right away, then we may not be able to save anything."

Other sites on the list include Abilene Courts in Abilene, the Brinkley Davis House in Limestone County, Camp Logan/Hogg Bird Sanctuary in Houston, the Dorbandt House in Marble Falls, the Jefferson Ordnance Magazine in Jefferson, Onate Crossing/Hart's Mill/Old Fort Bliss in El Paso, Pig Stand No. 41 in Beaumont, the Port Isabel Yacht Club Hotel, and the Reynolds-Seaquist House in Mason

The press release stated that historic preservation is a billion dollar industry in Texas.

"Historic sites named to the list of Texas' Most Endangered Places represent some of the biggest opportunities to make a positive economic impact on local communities through preservation," the press release stated. "Preservation Texas supports sites on its Most Endangered Places List providing technical assistance to identify preservation needs and set priorities, fund raising expertise, and assistance in fostering and building community partnerships."

For more information on Texas' Most Endangered Places, visit Preservation Texas website.

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