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Mary Allen Seminary Named As One Of Most Endangered Places In Texas

AUSTIN - The Mary Allen Seminary in Crockett, the Brinkley Davis House in Limestone County, the Clay House in Nacogdoches, Jefferson Ordnance Magazine in Jefferson and the Pig Stand No. 41 in Beaumont are among the 12 sites that Preservation Texas, Inc. has named to its eleventh annual list of Texas' Most Endangered Places.

Preservation Texas officials announced the selections outside the Texas State Capitol on Tuesday, May 20.

"The 2014 list is a diverse group of sites that reflect the range of preservation issues that historic places throughout the state are confronting," said Evan Thompson, executive director of Preservation Texas. "The sites are cultural, architectural and historic icons that are at imminent risk of disappearing from the landscape.

"Local grassroots organizations have been working tirelessly in support of these sites. By including them on the 2014 list, we hope to rally Texans statewide to step up and save them by supporting job-creating investments in our state's at-risk historic places."

Historic preservation is a billion dollar industry in Texas. Historic sites named to the list of Texas' Most Endangered Places represent some of the biggest opportunities to make a positive economic impact on local communities through preservation.

Preservation Texas supports sites on its Most Endangered Places List providing technical assistance to identify preservation needs and set priorities, fund raising expertise and assistance in fostering and building community partnerships.

MARY ALLEN SEMINARY (1887)
803 North Fourth St., Crockett, Houston County
Standing on the crest of a hill one mile north of the town square in Crockett stands Mary Allen Hall, the 1887 administration building of the former Mary Allen Seminary.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the four-story Second Empire-style brick building is all that remains of this school for African-American women built during the post-Reconstruction period.

The Seminary was founded by the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and later became Mary Allen College. It closed in 1972.

The Mary Allen Museum of African-American Art and History is seeking to restore Mary Allen Hall by reigniting the same spirit of cooperation and goodwill that led to the school's founding.
Having suffered from fire, neglect and natural disasters, the brick walls remain standing while the interior is in a state of collapse. Through careful preservation planning and support for an ongoing capital campaign, it is hoped that Texans will rally to save this architectural and educational landmark.

BRINKLEY DAVIS HOUSE (mid-1800s)
Located in a pasture between Groesbeck and Thornton on LCR 766
Limestone County

When Brinkley Davis and his family left their home in Parke County, IN, they intended to forge a new future in Texas. Settling in Limestone County in 1834, they built a log dog-trot structure using local timber and parts of the barge that they used to sail down the Mississippi River through the Gulf of Mexico to Galveston. While his family thrived, their house has fallen into disrepair, victim to the elements since it was last occupied in the 1960s.

Through the careful documentation and analysis of the Brinkley Davis House, plans for its restoration and relocation to a site with greater public access will be possible. As perhaps the oldest house in Limestone County, the study of this vernacular structure will give clues to the early architectural practices of the region. Reconstruction of collapsed front and rear porches, stabilization of its stone chimneys and preservation of salvageable wooden floors, walls and ceilings will require the dedication of preservationists committed to saving the legacy of one of Texas' pioneer families.

CLAY HOUSE (c. 1905)
720 Bois d' Arc
Nacogdoches, Nacogdoches County

Considered to be the finest house in the Zion Hill Historic District in Nacogdoches, the Clay House, constructed circa 1905, is thought to have been designed by noted local architect Diedrich Rulfs. Built for Charlie Clay and his family, this structure is an important example of vernacular architecture in one of the most intact early 20th century African-American working class neighborhoods in Texas.

Although the Clay House's original porch has been lost, this threatened building retains important architectural detail. Yet having stood unoccupied for many years, the historic structure requires significant repair before it can be converted into a museum celebrating the contributions of African-Americans to the history of the Zion Hill neighborhood.

A temporary roof is in place, and the site's advocates seek to raise the funds necessary to rebuild its foundation, repair failing structural systems, install a permanent roof and replace missing architectural elements. This small house that tells a big story that neighborhoods like Zion Hill are worth preserving.

JEFFERSON ORDNANCE MAGAZINE (c. 1863)
Big Cypress Bayou, south shoreline 500 ft. downstream of Jefferson boat launch. (No Physical Address) Jefferson, Marion County

Constructed as part of a network of sites for the transportation of ammunition for the Confederate war effort, the Jefferson Ordnance Magazine is perhaps the only remaining example of a Civil War-era powder magazine in Texas. Strategically constructed on Big Cypress Bayou circa 1863, what was a transportation advantage has become a liability as the erosion of the banks of the bayou has rapidly advanced to within seventeen feet of this modest structure. Owned by Historic Jefferson Foundation, this site is in need of protection from the changing landscape which threatens to cause the collapse of this important site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ten feet square and nearly 15 feet tall, this brick building was constructed with walls one foot thick at its lower level. The walls include air spaces that formed a ventilation system to keep the interior brick dry and inside temperature stable. More than 90% of the structure is original, with careful repairs undertaken in 1992.

Serving a supply network linking Shreveport, Marshall and Tyler, the ordnance magazine in Jefferson was once part of a complex of buildings on the edge of town that have all but vanished. Both architecturally and archaeologically significant, the preservation of this site will teach lessons about how to best address changing landscape conditions at an environmentally vulnerable historic place.

PIG STAND NO. 41 (1941)
1955 Calder Ave.
Beaumont, Jefferson County

Built on a prominent Calder Avenue location in Beaumont, Pig Stand No. 41 opened its doors in 1941 at the height of the Dallas-based fast food chain's popularity. Now shuttered, this classic example of mid-century commercial architecture retains a remarkable degree of integrity. The saucer-shaped roof, wavy carhop canopy and neon lights would, if restored, bring a local landmark back to life.

The Pig Stand remains unprotected by city ordinances, and development pressure on this highly visible site threatens the long-term survival of this iconic structure. By finding solutions to its preservation, including the application of state and federal historic preservation tax credits, an economically feasible adaptive use of this building would reinforce the importance of preserving and using places of strong and unique architectural character from our recent past, while demonstrating the power of preservation incentives.

Thompson noted that the sites included on the 2014 list reflect increased awareness of the importance of historic preservation in supporting landmarks in small communities. "Passion and determination in these communities are strong, but badly managed land use planning, coupled with a lack of financial resources and professional guidance present serious challenges," he said.
Preservation Texas, Inc. is the advocate for preserving the historic resources of Texas. Founded in 1985, the nonprofit organization named its first list of endangered sites in 2004. Its Most Endangered Places program is funded in part by grants and sponsorships from across the state.
For more information on Texas' Most Endangered Places, visit www.preservationtexas.org, or phone Preservation Texas, Inc. at 512-472-0102.