2020 Friends Alliance Awards Recipients Announced!
The Friends of the Texas Historical Commission is pleased to announce the 2020 Friends Alliance Awards. Please join us in recognizing the following recipients for their commitment to supporting Texas' state historic sites.
Friends Alliance Award for Civic Engagement: Friends of Casa Navarro
Casa Navarro is a small 1850's adobe and limestone house in downtown San Antonio in what was once known as the "Laredito," or "Little Laredo" neighborhood. It is the former home of José Antonio Navarro, who was an advocate of Tejano civil rights, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, and a writer of the Texas State Constitution. The Friends of Casa Navarro was organized in 2006 by Sylvia Navarro, a descendent of José Navarro. The core group today consists largely of Navarro descendants and others who have enduring connections with San Antonio's history. Since its founding, the group has provided invaluable philanthropic, programmatic, and public support, but this award is for its efforts to promote the site as an important historical asset--creating city-wide recognition with such programs as their college scholarship competition; statewide recognition such as with a cenotaph of Navarro that stands at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin; and even international recognition, when members of the group exchanged visits with dignitaries from the island of Corsica, in recognition of the ancestral homeland of José Navarro. In 2017, the Friends of Casa Navarro initiated the designation fo the site as a National Historic Landmark, which it helped publicize by organizing a day-long celebration that featured elected officials, television personalities, a local youth choir, over 300 attendees, and plenty of media. Then in 2018, the Friends of Casa Navarro worked with the San Antonio Tricentennial Commission to make Casa Navarro the site of an official San Antonio 300 Event, featuring Navarro's birthday celebration, with a special appearance by a dignitary from Corsica. Of the group's notable civic engagement activities over the past several years, one of the most critical activities for the site has been in the group's tireless and ongoing efforts to advocate for the site to the City of San Antonio and Bexar County, in an attempt to maintain the significance of Casa Navarro while the site is surrounded with numerous redevelopment projects. Due to the Friends of Casa Navarro's persistent advocacy for the site, this small historic house--nestled deep in a very big and growing city--is well positioned for continued recognition, and even greater prominence in its connection to public access, as the area around it grows and changes. That is no small feat for any historic site.
Friends Alliance Award for Friendraising: Friends of Caddo Mounds
Caddo Mounds is an East Texas archeological site of a Caddo Indian village built more than 1200 years ago. Today, among the Pineywoods landscape, earthen mounds still exist as evidence of that ancient civilization, and visitors can learn about the Caddo people and their history. The Friends of Caddo Mounds was formed less than 7 years ago by a dedicated group of individuals who are passionate about the site's archeology, and who share a deep respect for Native American culture. Since it began, the group has grown from a fledgling collection of its founding members, to more than tripling its membership with an extensive action-oriented volunteer network. While the group's core members are from the surrounding communities of Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Jacksonville, and Crockett, when there's a project that needs extra volunteers, members arrive from as far away as San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. Some drive more than 5 hours to reach the site. In addition to its Texas network, the Friends of Caddo Mounds has made it their mission to connect with, and include, Oklahoma Caddo Tribal Members when planning activities and interpreting the history and culture of the Caddo Mounds Site. Through deep connections with the community, the Friends Group has successfully raised significant funds to support cultural projects at Caddo Mounds, which included building by hand a traditional Caddo grass house under the guidance of Caddo Nation leadership. A devastating tornado struck the site during the Caddo Cultural Day event in April of 2019, destroying the Visitors Center and Grass House. The tornado also personally impacted Friends Group members and site staff who were onsite when the tornado struk. Only months later, however, the Friends of Caddo Mounds drew upon its collective optimism by organizing and raising funds for a community healing workshop at the site. The workshop included Oklahoma Caddo members, East Texas teachers, and local residents who were affected by the storm. Today, the Friends Group continues its organizing and fundraising efforts, and is poised to lend unwavering support as Caddo Mounds looks to rebuild in the future.
Friends Alliance Award for Stewardship: Friends of Fulton Mansion
The Fulton Mansion is an 1870's French Second Empire home that stands on a prominent site overlooking the bay in the coastal town of Rockport. It is known for its noteworthy style, unique construction methods, and advanced mechanical systems. George and Harriet Fulton built and then lived in the house for 16 years while they operated an important ranching business in the region. The Friends of Fulton Mansion, organized in 1993, is composed of eight core board members and numerous volunteers who share great pride in the site as an icon of their region's history. The Friends of Fulton Mansion were nominated for their faithful stewardship of the Mansion over many years, but particularly for their dedication these past two years after the site was damaged by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Since the group's founding, it has consistently provided supplemental fundraising and support for capital campaigns, for ongoing maintenance, programming, restoration needs, and part-time staff for the site. Their support allows the site to keep its doors open for tours and programs 6 days a week in a busy tourist town. Some of the events they assist with include Music at the Mansion, the Fall Lecture Series, annual Easter, Halloween and holiday events, as well as various other workshops and programs throuhgout the year. The Friends Group continued their dedication to the site in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, even as they tended to their community and their personal properties that were severely impacted by the storm. While the Mansion was closed for repairs after the hurricane, the Friends of Fulton Mansion continued their support by providing volunteers and fundraising to allow state staff to focus on the mansion's restoration and public outreach. Today the Fulton Mansion has been restored to its former glory and was re-opened in December 2019 to cheers of supporters from throuhgout the Rockport region; due in no small part to this dedicated Friends Group.
Learn more about the awards and nomination process here.