The Blanco Historic Preservation Commission (BHPC) held a 2014 Planning Workshop at the Blanco Library on Saturday, February 15. Attending were commissioners Jim Harris, Jo Nell Haas, J D Sherlock, Charles Willgren, Retta Martin and Advisor/Historian Becky Greathouse. Wayne Gosnell with the Blanco Historic Preservation Action Plan (BHPAP) Night Friendly Skies - Preserving Blanco’s Night Skies was also present. The commission was very pleased to have two BISD seniors and two Juniors as guests. Seniors were Kristen Bowman and Alley Penshorn and Juniors were Lauren Russell and Grant Calzoncit.
Linda Howard gave the commissioners and students a history lesson on Blanco, Blanco County, the Historic Commission, and the resources in the Blanco Library. Linda was the BHPC second chair and is now chair of the Pioneer Museum. If you want to know Blanco’s history or how to find it, she is the person to see. It was such an interesting presentation and we want to thank Linda for being a part of this workshop.
Kristen Bowman has worked with BHPC chair, Retta Martin, to set up the BHPC office and filing system in the Byars Building since the fall of 2013. Kristen has learned a lot through her hard work about preserving Blanco’s history and heritage. She has taken her excitement back to share with other high school students. We hope that they will inspire other students to become interested in the history and heritage of Blanco and their own relatives. It would be nice to have a Blanco History Club in our high school.
Section 1 of the Blanco Historic Preservation Ordinance covers the Purpose of the Commission. The act is intended to: A. Protect and enhance the landmarks and districts which represent distinctive elements of Blanco’s historic, architectural, and cultural heritage; B. Foster civic pride in the accomplishments of the past; C. Protect and enhance Blanco’s attractiveness to visitors and the support and stimulus to the economy thereby provided; D. Insure the harmonious, orderly, and efficient growth and development of the city; E. Encourage stabilization, restoration, and improvement of such properties and their values.
The 2nd most important task the commission is working on in planning for 2014 is the Designation of Historic Landmarks. In 2009, a Survey and Inventory of over 200 structures in Blanco that were over 50 years old was completed and is housed at the Blanco Library. There are a number of benefits that come along with historic designation of these properties that are significant for preservation. Historic properties usually increase in value and there are also financial incentives for rehabilitations available at the state and federal level. A local program of benefits for residents and businesses is now in the works. The overall benefits for a community are priceless.
The BISD students chose this task as a project. Each one will take one of the structures and compile the history, not only of the structure, but also the history of the family or families who had and are living there. It will be very interesting as two students have families who have been in Blanco, or the area surrounding Blanco, for more than 100 years. Four generations of one family have lived in the same home for approximately 63 years.
The BHPAP goals and tasks were reviewed. The highest priority goal of this plan included “Preserving the night sky and controlling light pollution.“ Wayne Gosnell has led this task since the approval of the plan in October 2007. Wayne gave a report to the workshop of their progress and future plans.
Also, in the BHPAP top priorities was “Developing a land trust to maintain small town rural atmosphere” and “using a land trust to maximize historic quality of the river and to incorporate hiking and biking trails.“ Jo Nell Haas is presently leading the tasks of designating the Blanco State Park as our next National Registry District. Jo Nell volunteered to incorporate the “land trust task” into her project.
Our top priority task is our Tour and Assessment. We will cover this task in our next article.
Our workshop will continue at our regular meeting on February 24, 2014 at 6 p.m. at the Byars Building. We encourage our citizens to attend these meetings.