Preservation spotlight: May events highlight city’s historic heritage

May 7, 2019

Brownsville’s historic buildings are in the spotlight during May, which is National Preservation Month.

Things kicked off May 1 with a campus walking tour of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which provided an overview of historic UTRGV buildings deserving of state and national recognition and corresponding economic benefits associated with historical designation for Garza Gymnasium, Rusteberg Hall and Cavalry Hall.

The Brownsville Historical Association, city of Brownsville and Main Street District Brownsville are behind the month’s activities, which continue May 10 with the “Imagine the Possibilities Tour,” presenting an overview of selected vacant historic buildings in the downtown district, including the Fernandez-Olvera Building, Indian Palace and the Fernandez Schodts Building. The tour meets at the Stillman House Heritage Museum, 1325 E. Washington St., at 6 p.m. and lasts one hour.

On May 11, “Impressions from Brownsville,” an exhibit by Brownsville Historic Preservation Officer Juan Velez, opens at 2 p.m. in the Vezzetti Room at the Heritage Museum. Architectural historian Terry Myers will give a lecture on historic preservation at 2:15 p.m. Myers facilitated the nomination of the city’s first National Register Historic District, known as the Brownsville Freight Depot and Warehouse District.

Following the lecture, Velez will lead the “Block 88 Border Brick Walking Tour: Sauder Building and Fernandez H. Complex.”

The Mid-Century Modern Walking Tour, which Velez will also lead, takes place on May 15 and will feature St. Joseph Academy’s mid-century modern buildings with potential for national and state historical designation recognition and related economic benefits from such designation. The tour meets at the entrance to St. Joseph Academy, 101 St. Joseph Drive, at 6 p.m. and lasts one hour.

On May 17, the Historical Happy Hour and Brownsville Film History Exhibit is happening from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Laureles Ranch House Museum, 1501 E. 7th St., in Linear Park. The event will feature craft beers provided by L&F Distributors. BHA will be exhibiting Mexican movie posters from the Agrasanchez Collection.

Lastly, the Historic Preservation Office and Downtown District Awards ceremony takes play May 30 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Alonso Building, 510 E. St. Charles St. The 2019 awards will be presented following a lecture on Rio Grande Valley history by Milo Kearney, University of Texas at Brownsville professor emeritus of history.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation created Preservation Week in 1971 to spotlight grassroots preservation efforts across the country. Preservation Week has expanded to include the entire month of May, during which cities and towns celebrate preservation through architectural and historic tours, education programs and other events.

For complete information about Preservation Month events in Brownsville go to www.brownsvillehistory.org.