Stephen F. Austin State University

Harrison County Historic Sites Survey

The Harrison County Historical Resource Survey is a thesis project that provides updated research and visual, descriptive, and historical documentation in a format accessible to the public and in a manner that allows and encourages the public to take part in the identification and preservation of the historical resources, cultural landscapes, and built environments of Harrison County. Although notable resources were documented in the 1960s and 1970s, it was done in a piecemeal fashion based on tourism and local histories at the time rather than as a comprehensive review. That previous work is neither up-to-date for the structures recorded at that time nor is that previous work easily accessible. The purpose of a historic resources survey is to identify extant resources. Once a historic resources survey has been completed, preservationists know which types of structures and landscapes (vernacular, industrial, religious, government, etc.) or which groups of broader society (laboring, lower class, rural, or minorities) were not represented in previous preservation efforts (such as National Register nominations, historic markers, or tour routes) and thus where future survey and preservation efforts should be focused.

Therefore, while this project provides updated condition and description information and additional historic research on previously identified significant structures in Harrison County in a format accessible to the public, it also identifies areas of future research. Because the first priority of thesis is to provide online access to the wide range of previous preservation efforts in Harrison County, it skewed the survey in several ways that would not be part of a completely new survey program. First, the majority of the properties in the survey date to the late 1800s and early 1900s. This project began with properties that had already been researched in order to update the condition of each and conduct additional research. This is the standard first step in any historic resources survey. However when originally researched and recorded for inclusion on the National Register and for placement of markers by the Texas Historical Commission, the "fifty-year rule" meant that the cutoff date was in the 1920s. Forty years later current surveys are now examining resources created through the 1960s. The majority of the historical research of Harrison County specifically has been focused on the antebellum period thus not much recognition of later resources.

Another problem is that the majority of resources included in the survey are those of upper class and upper middle-class white men (or their wives/daughters by default). There is also a lack of racial, ethnic, or class diversity. The thesis began with the brochures created by local historian Max Lale in the 1970s. At the time of his research, the usual criteria for preservation work in the 1960s and 1970s were resources owned by famous people (white upper class men) and pretty buildings. Although Lale followed this protocal, he also successfully broadened his list by including many other homes within the community. In addition, many of the structures that have been preserved were those constructed of higher quality materials to begin with or owned by families or businesses better able to maintain them over the decades. Vernacular structures were more likely to be reused, dismantled, or abandoned thus less likely to survive.

The primary goal of this thesis is to provide public access to updated condition reports and research about the resources previously documented. This thesis strives to encourage future preservationists to continue the work within Harrison County. Although this survey addresses mainly resources constructed in the mid- to late-1800s, it does include additional resources such as homes, businesses, schools, churches, roads, and graveyards. A specific effort was to include at least one resource from each community in Harrison County thus expanding beyond the previous focus on Marshall. Each entry is supplemented with current photographs as well as historic photographs and background research on the resources and their owners whenever possible. Some resources have been well preserved while others are in disrepair and in need of maintenance. Regardless of the resources' condition however, each one contributes to the history of Harrison County. This survey brings together whenever possible local, state, and national resources for each surviving individual historic resource to create an accessible web site centralizing information for public use. The result is a history of Harrison County in East Texas told through its architecture.

It should be noted that many of the architectural surveys were conducted in the field, and while condition and elements are correct, some of the architectural style descriptions may be inaccurate on the survey forms themselves. But the styles were corrected and updated within the written architectural style description text of each location.

Surveyed Resources

Resources for Harrison County