AUSTIN, Texas — The Lodge Building in Waxahachie is one of 10 sites that Preservation Texas, Inc. has named to its eighth annual list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places.
Preservation Texas officials announced the selections on the steps of the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday.
Built in 1926 by the Unity Lodge No. 37 of the Colored Knights of Pythias, the lodge building is one of the few institutional structures remaining in East Waxahachie, which once was a thriving African American commercial district.
Located at 441 East Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., the lodge building is situated on the highly visible corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Wyatt Street, just five blocks from the Ellis County Courthouse Square. The building remained in use as a lodge hall until the 1940s and is currently owned by the Bethesda Educational Foundation of Waxahachie, Inc.
Waxahachie is considered one of the most historic towns in Texas, however, very little is documented about its African American community.
Known as the “lodge hall” in the community, the building is identified by many older African Americans as the “only place in town where we could have dances.”
The current owners are attempting to preserve the building since taking ownership in 2003. They are faced with an urgent need to replace the roof. Also, they must plan for a complete restoration project so the historic lodge building can be reused as a community and educational center.
“Texas is a state with enormous diversity and significant historic resources,” said Jim Ray, president of Preservation Texas, Inc., a statewide partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Yet each year, more and more of the state’s historic properties fall victim to commercial development, neglect or suburban sprawl.
“Like the other structures on our 2011 endangered list, the Lodge Building reflects the increasing awareness across our state of the importance of preserving structures that have played important roles in the history of our state. By calling attention to them now, we want to encourage residents to act while there’s still time.”
The Texas’ Most Endangered Places program is at its heart a grassroots effort designed to elevate the cause of historic preservation and to increase the capacity of local groups and individuals to preserve the historic resources in their communities.
Preservation Texas, Inc. is a statewide nonprofit organization that advocates for preserving the historic resources in Texas.
Preservation Texas named its first list of endangered historic sites in 2004. For several sites, inclusion on the list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places has resulted in energized conservation efforts, commitments for restoration, and additional funding.
Among the sites that have recently benefited are Heritage Plaza, part of the city of Fort Worth’s 112-acre Heritage Park, and built as a project of the Fort Worth Bicentennial Committee (2009 list), and the Austin Woman’s Club, designed by San Antonio architect Alfred Giles (1853-1920) in 1874 with a history of strong ties to Austin’s political and cultural growth (2010 list).
The 2011 list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places includes:
Blas Herrera Ranch, San Antonio, Bexar County
Duval County Courthouse, San Diego, Duval County
Lodge Building, 441 East Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Waxahachie, Ellis County
Lubbock Post Office and Federal Building, 800 Broadway, Lubbock, Lubbock County
Mulkey Theatre, 108 South Kearney Street, Clarendon, Donley County
Noah Cox House, 101 Main, Roma, Starr County
Olivewood Cemetery, 1300 Court Street, Houston, Harris County
Piano Bridge, One Piano Bridge Road near FM 1383, Schulenburg, Fayette County.
Roma-Cuidad Miguel Aleman International Suspension Bridge, Spur 29, off of U.S. 83, Roma, Starr County
Santa Fe Railway Depot, 954 College Avenue, Snyder, Scurry County
Preservation Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places program is funded by grants from the Burdine Johnson Foundation and the Summerlee Foundation.
By providing statewide awareness through media coverage, the Most Endangered Places program is a marketing and educational tool that recognizes the importance of specific sites while promoting the cause of historic preservation in Texas.
For more information on Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places, visit the Web site at www.preservationtexas.org, or phone Preservation Texas, Inc. at 512-472-0102.