Why Historic Preservation?

| May 1, 2010

Katy Depot, 1940s

Why has historic preservation become so important? Katy is an area that is almost all new, but we have deep historical roots. Work done to preserve what is historical is important because it honors those who came before us and protects our heritage for those who will come after us. But why bother? It is a good thing to look at what is historic to begin with and what preserving it can do for the community.
Heritage tourism is the largest single segment of Texas tourism today. More people visit various areas of Texas for heritage-related reasons than for any other reason. This shows how historic preservation can be a significant factor to draw tourists. Those tourists need someplace to stay, eat and shop, so historic preservation can also be directly linked to promoting economic development.
The main purpose of historic preservation is to save properties and artifacts that are of historical significance. That can include anything from historic locations and buildings to the smallest personal possessions of our founders.
Notable artifacts from Katy’s heritage have been preserved in various venues in old Katy. The Katy Heritage Museum operated by the city of Katy has an inventory of thousands of items highlighting the farming history of the area. The Katy Heritage Society moved some historic homes to create Katy Heritage Park. Several of these homes are furnished in period pieces or used as a museum of local history. The old Post Office and Humble Oil mess hall are also in the park. Adjacent to these installations is the VFW Museum, the most complete museum of war history in Texas. All of these are located on George Bush Drive, just east of Ave. D.
Nearby you will find the old MKT Depot and caboose. The depot houses the Katy Heritage Society’s museum of railroad history and the city’s visitors center. There are also a number of old homes with markers in Katy; these were part of a Texas sesquicentennial project. The markers have no official state significance but they do shed an interesting light on local history.
In historic preservation there is no magical age number. The area has only two properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One is from the early 1900s and is located on 4th Street across from the Katy Post Office. The other is a 60-year-old private home, the first ranch-style house listed in Texas on the NRHP for architectural and engineering significance.
To determine what is historic, one has to look at what has been significant locally for many years, as well as what will be significant in the years to come. While some think that a building should be 100 years old to be historic, there is another school of thought that after only 50 years we should be looking at the significance of a building. What was it used for, is the architecture unique, did something historic happen there? What about the actual preservation? That depends on who is working on preservation and the risk of a property being lost. The Katy Heritage Society is working now to preserve the Antioch Community Cemetery among other things. The future of our past is in our hands, and it is a valuable asset for the Katy community today.

Katy Heritage Park

Katy Depot, today

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Category: Katy Texas History

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