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History grant could make difference

Profile image for By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer
By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer

Office pursues funds to launch countywide preservation effort

Officials from the Denton County Office of History and Culture are crossing their collective fingers in hopes of receiving a grant to aid in their efforts to preserve county history.

The grant would be used for the first phase of a reconnaissance and documentation survey of anything of historic merit, to be used to prepare a countywide preservation plan.

“We’re looking at anything 50 years or older — buildings, structures, objects and cultural landscapes, like a stagecoach road or a virgin prairie,” said Peggy Riddle, executive director of the Office of History and Culture.

She said similar surveys have been done for the city of Denton but never for the whole county.

“We will be working with the city on a database of everything they have identified and then going out in the rural areas and documenting things in the community,” she said.

The total cost of this phase of the project would be $60,000. Riddle said it is a matching grant administered by the Texas Historical Commission.

With county commissioners’ approval of the grant application, officials can move on to Austin for state approval. The word should come down in February, Riddle said.

“I think we will have a good chance at this — we have never applied for one of these,” Riddle said.

County Commissioner Andy Eads said officials will work to research and identify historic structures and sites across Denton County that will need to be preserved.

“As we complete the list, we will then disseminate that to our municipalities so they can take any local action they deem necessary,” Eads said. “This county is one of the fastest-growing in the state. It is very time-sensitive that we identify historic areas so they can be preserved, and if not preserved, their historical significance can be recorded in our county records.”

Eads said he and other history officials realize that not all historic structures can be saved.

He anticipates the project to be a big collaborative effort between a host of people and area agencies, including other cities, private property owners and the various historical societies across the county.

Eads said he’s looking forward to public engagement, as well.

“If they know of any sites or buildings that need to be on our radar, let the Office of History and Culture know so they can be investigated,” he said.

Riddle said the overall goal is to reach out to the whole county, which has a rich untapped history that could slowly disappear if not documented.

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.