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County given its 2nd award for preservation

By Robin Y. Richardson ryrichardson@marshallnewsmessenger.com
Feb. 23, 2011 at 5:44 p.m.


Harrison County recently nabbed another Lucille Terry Preservation Award, this time earning it for the restoration of the historic Harrison County Courthouse.

"One of the major reasons is that's probably the most important preservation project in East Texas that was completed last year," said Gail Beil, who nominated the county for the award.

"It's a fantastic recognition of the efforts of the local (citizens)," said Harrison County Judge Hugh Taylor, who accepted the award on the county's behalf last Saturday at the East Texas Historical Association's spring meeting in Waco.

He was happy to accept it on behalf of all who labored to make the project a reality.

"It was about them," he said. "It was about the East Texas Historical Association recognizing us, the county, and all the people that gave."

This is the second Lucille Terry Award Marshall has received. The first was in 2000 for preservation efforts on the Texas and Pacific Railway Depot.

Ms. Beil, who is a member of the East Texas Historical Association and serves on the Lucille Terry Preservation Award committee, said the committee looks at preservation efforts in the public sector where funds are raised privately - and in this case also publicly - for a project that is accessible to the public.

In addition to historical significance and accuracy of preservation, community involvement also receives preferential consideration.

"Everybody was aware of the courthouse (preservation efforts)," Ms. Beil said. "I can't feel prouder."

Former Mayor Audrey Kariel, who played a significant role in the genesis of the project, is also thrilled about the award.

"I'm really happy the work of our citizens are being recognized. That's what it really was - a citizen-inspired project," said Ms. Kariel. "Mrs. Terry, if she was alive, she would've been so excited."

Cissy Lale, whose husband the late Max Lale left $50,000 in his will to help complete the project, said she was delighted to attend last Saturday's meeting to see the courthouse receive the award.

"It certainly deserved it," she said. "I hope that people in the area realize it's quite an honor."

She said it's quite an honor especially at this particular time when Gov. Rick Perry has proposed to eliminate certain state programs such as the Texas Historical Commission, who contributed tremendously to the project

"It's most important we recognize this," she said. "I believe it's one of the most outstanding preservation awards, certainly, in Texas."

The award is named in honor of the late Lucille Terry, a preservationist who lived in Jefferson and was instrumental in the restoration of many historic homes and public buildings in the town.

Those that knew Ms. Terry, recounted how she drove around in an old pick-up truck, collecting abandoned architectural pieces, preserving them to use for other projects.

"Lucille Terry is one that started preservation in Jefferson when, I'm sure, everybody else laughed at her," said Ms. Beil. "We thought an award needed to be named after her to honor her work. "We (also) felt like preservationists needed to be honored by ETHA."

The award honors individuals and groups within the East Texas area for their contribution to the preservation of historic properties and structures at least 50 years old. The award consists of a bronze sculpture of an actual East Texas dogtrot cabin by artist Buck Cheavens of Diboll. It is approximately 12" long by 18" wide and 8" high.

"I certainly hope it will be on display in the courthouse forever," said Ms. Lale.

The courthouse is one of 14 Texas courthouses designed by J. Reilly Gordon and constructed in 1900. Ms. Beil noted four entities contributed to its restoration cost. The state of Texas granted approximately $4.3 million, the county gave 1.6 million, the city of Marshall contributed $500,000 and private contributions totaled $1.6 million. Additionally, a fund has been established for ongoing maintenance. The building was deemed complete and rededicated on June 20, 2009.

<strong>REMEMBERING

THE BEGINNING

</strong>Ms. Kariel said she began working on restoring the courthouse before it became an official project.

"Max Lale played a role, he and Cissy, when I was chairman of the (city) commission and beginning to work on the depot in 1988," recalled Ms. Kariel. "Max sensed we had a problem with the courthouse."

Thus, he brought John Crain of the Summerlee Foundation of Dallas and a well-respected city planner by the name of Mr. Pratt to Marshall to examine the structure. The two were awestruck by their visit and full of praise.

"Mr. Pratt wrote to me that Marshall is a perfectly planned city," Ms. Kariel recalled. "He said you have the courthouse on one end of Washington and the depot on the other. He said it's like they were bookends."

"He really felt Marshall needed to save the depot and we started working on the courthouse," she recounted.

Ms. Kariel said a group of citizens, including current Mayor Buddy Power, went all over the state, touring courthouses to gather ideas on how to restore such a structure.

The former mayor said if it had not been for the Texas Historical Commission and Quinton an Mildred Carlile's $1 million donation, the project would not have been finished because of its magnitude.

"It took a lot of stakeholders," she said. "The Historical Commission's and the Carliles' donation were the key to making this happen."

Cissy Lale concurred.

"We were lucky because the Texas Historical Commission had that restoration courthouse program going," Ms. Lale said. "Without it, we wouldn't have made it."

"What really made it go was the small people who brought bricks to keep it going," she continued. "It was not just a few wealthy people."

"It took so many people to get the courthouse going," Ms. Kariel added.

She said the first stakeholders were the city and county. She was mayor at the time and Rodney Gilstrap was the Harrison County judge. Their first project was to repair the courthouse's roof.

"The city and county had a contract to do that roof. That was the first step to secure the building," said Ms. Kariel.

Then, the Courthouse Preservation Council of Harrison County was formed to assist. It was chaired by the late Franklin Jones Jr., who served in that capacity until his death in 2008.

The first grant received, a $25,000 grant, was the result of Crain's visit to Marshall. Ms. Kariel said former city manager Tony Williams, who had a great sense of project, helped her write and secure the grant.

"It was a two-prong deal," she said. Part of it went to hire a consultant to secure the museum's artifacts and the other part went to hiring an architect, Craig Melde of ArchiTexas based in Dallas, to examine the courthouse structure.

"He was the best," Ms. Kariel said of Melde.

Ms. Kariel admits the courthouse was the hardest project she's ever worked on.

"I've worked on the library, Civic Center auditorium, the depot....," she shared. "If I hadn't had the experience on these citizen-inspired projects I wouldn't have known what to do."

Ms. Kariel thinks the end result turned out beautifully.

"I didn't think I'd live to see that and I did," she said.

"The colors are magnificent," she continued, "I hope it receives so many more awards."

Ms. Kariel said she had a great team that worked with her to start on the project.

"It took a tremendous amount of community effort," she said. "It's so wonderful to know our community cares about its heritage and can bring something back like that," she said of the award. "It's beautiful," she said of the courthouse, "and I hope we'll enjoy it for years to come."

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