Two monthly awards—one for historic restoration and the other for beautification—are moving around town to new spots every month to applaud and encourage property owners who have improved their properties.
The awards are drawing attention to the city's most significant assets—its history and eye appeal. Another motive: Attracting a larger piece of Texas' $2.6-billion heritage tourism industry.
Among Texas cities, Pales-tine's potential for increasing its heritage tourism is second only to Galveston, which has the state's largest number of historic homes.
The awards come from Palestine's Historic Preservation Commission, an appointed board of volunteers, whose main task is to review requests for construction or additions to historic homes. Board members also approve additions consistent with the time period in which the historic properties were built.
“It's a labor of love, plus it's a big financial investment,” Commission Chairperson Julie Abston said.
Encouraging people to restore or beautify their properties could encourage others to take more pride in their homes and do the same.
The two monthly awards – Historic Preservation and Community Beautification – differ in scope and purpose: The first recognizes restorations to historic structures or landmarks; the second honors improvements to homes, businesses, or even parks. Properties may be publicly or privately-owned.
The board of seven members, which meets monthly, consists of Linda Williams, Chris Gouras, Barbara Jordan, Julie Abston, Drew Womack, Mark McEach-ran, and Mickie Lamberth.
Early this year, they decided to recover the signs, which had been misplaced—and almost forgotten—due to changes in city government. Palestine has had four or more historic preservation offers over the past decade.
Greg Laudadio, the city’s new planner and historic preservation officer, stepped into the role earlier this year.
“This is the most passionate board,” Laudadio said. The board recovered the signs from the basement of the Carnegie Library; now Laudadio installs them at the award-winning properties.
Another sign of renewed historic preservation efforts popped up in August, when Historic Palestine, Inc., a local nonprofit, formed to support the preservation of Palestine's landmarks. It began work on adding a section of Main Street to the National Register of Historic Places. That process started with a public meeting, led by architectural historian Diane Williams of San Antonio, who is researching the district and will complete the application next spring.
The new historic district would comprise a smaller section of the city's Main Street District, but include buildings with more historical significance.
For information about historic preservation, or improving a historic home, contact Laudadio at 903-731-8419.