Monday, December 31, 2018

Historic Waxahachie Inc. provides update on annual accomplishments and future goals - Waxahachie Daily Light


The year 2018 was a banner one for Historic Waxahachie. From preservation to education and advocacy, the nonprofit has worked tirelessly to ensure the treasures of Waxahachie are protected for future generations.

Historic Waxahachie executive director Chelsea Klepfer provided a look into this year’s accomplishments, as well as give a look toward things to come in 2019 — which includes a change to the annual Candlelight Home Tour. The annual holiday tour of homes will now operate under Historic Waxahachie and will be called the “Historic Waxahachie Christmas Tour of Homes."

"We made this decision to not only show that a new organization is now coordinating the event, but also to highlight that the homes on the tour will be historic," Klepfer explained.

“It fits so well with our vision and promotes historic homes," she continued. "It also is a big heritage tourism draw for the area, which is one of our goals as an organization. When we heard they [Waxahachie Downtown Merchants Association] wasn’t going to do it anymore, we jumped on it.”

Klepfer said there are already homes nailed down for the event and will provide more details as Christmas time approaches next year.

Historic Waxahachie, Inc. was founded in 1977 and underwent a branding facelift this year with an updated logo and website. Along with the visual upgrade, the mission statement was re-established. Klepfer shared the mission statement had not been updated in over 40 years.

“Our board held a mission statement workshop facilitated by the Director of Preservation Dallas to develop a more streamlined mission statement," Klepfer elaborated.

Another significant accomplishment is the addition of 31 new members, totaling approximately 175 memberships. Klepfer has a personal goal to extend that number to break the 200-mark in 2019.

A total of three interviews were added to the Oral History database, which can be found under the “programs” tab on the website. The stories of the 1929 jail and the car culture of the 1950s and 1960s were added this year, as well as the 2018 Most Endangered Places.

Klepfer noted the organization advocated for historic preservation at the local, state and national level. A window restoration workshop was also offered to the public at the Oddfellows building to share best preservation practices. Klepfer and board members attended conferences around the year through Preservation Texas in Austin. HWI is also a member of the Texas Preservation Trust and is at the forum level of National Preservation Trust to stay on the edge of preservation to implement ideas at the local level.

Historic Waxahachie, Inc. benefited from two grants that totaled to $25,000. The Waxahachie Foundation donated one check worth $5,000, and the Texas Historical Commission awarded $20,000, which was the highest grant awarded by the THC. The funds will benefit the next phase of a historic resources survey for the city that will be underway in 2019.

"A historic resources survey is an important planning and preservation tool, which documents the current status of the area’s historic resource," Klepfer explained. "Historic Waxahachie and the City of Waxahachie will use this data to make informed decisions about local historic resource management and planning for new development."

Over the year, the public was informed about the downtown history of the Ellis County Courthouse, Wyatt and Calaboose buildings and MKT Caboose during the Texas Country Reporter Festival, Veterans Day, the Gingerbread Trail and Odd Fest.

Another milestone of 2018 was when a 25-ton interurban railcar was hauled from Palmer to Waxahachie on March 23. The interurban freighter dates back over one century and members of Historic Waxahachie will restore the freight car to its authentic style. Once the renovation is complete, it will be donated to the City of Waxahachie for the public to enjoy.

The Waxahachie Foundation provided the grant for the railcar that is still in the beginning stages of the renovation.

“We’ve got some money raised, but it’s a huge undertaking and is probably going to take in the neighborhood of $60,000-plus to completely restore that,” Klepfer noted. “It will have to be moved once if not two more times before it’s completed.”

Right now the railcar is resting at Lions Park.

Some remodels that were completed this year included the interior — as far as polishing it and incorporating some informative displays — of the MKT Caboose. The caboose is open for tours at various times of the year.

The final phase of restoration of the Wyatt and Calaboose buildings were celebrated as well. In July, both buildings were treated for minor termite damage. Klepfer noted the situation was handled just in time. Also, since the relocation of the Waxahachie Police Department, moonlights were installed to brighten the historical site in the evening time to ensure security. Wooden slats on the Wyatt house were replaced on the interior and exterior after animals damaged it. Larry’s Paintings also restored broken windowpanes in both buildings.

Windows had sunk in inside the Wyatt, which allowed outside air to travel through the middle where the top and bottom window meet. The windows were raised to combat this issue.

After the final touches, the Wyatt was repainted antique white.

Historic Waxahachie also plotted historical markers on structures throughout the city that were deemed “worthy of preservation.” These locations included 10 residences. Through the marker program, homes 50 years or older could qualify to obtain a sidewalk or home plaque or sign.

Also, four new at-risk landmarks were established as endangered through the second annual Endangered Places program, which was held on May 10.

Boze-Mitchell McKibbin Funeral Home, the Cecil-Levingston House, the Sweatt House and the Thompson House were added to the list. Other locations on the endangered list include Waxahachie Lumbar Yard, Waxahachie Cotton Mill Purser’s Office, Joshua Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, LOOF Lodge International Order of Odd Fellows, Drane Hall and the house at 1009 W. Main St.

Klepfer noted the “Tour Waxahachie” free walking tour app has been downloaded a total of 200 times. The app promotes local heritage and can be installed on all IOS and Android devices.

Historic Waxahachie was proud to partner with the Waxahachie Downtown Merchants Association, the Ellis County Museum, Waxahachie ISD and the WWII Reenactors for the second year of “Operation: Hands on History” event that took place on Veterans Day weekend.

Klepfer also congratulated HWI’s Preservation Awards for 2018, which included Mark Singleton with Citizens National Bank with the Historic Preservation Leadership Award, The Plaid Turtle Draft House for Historic Preservation Award for a commercial structure, and George and Ginger Cole with the Historic Preservation Award for a residential building.

If interested in membership with HWI, contact the membership chair, Becky Kauffman, at beckykauffman@hotmail.com.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450


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