Historic Preservation Month is traditionally celebrated each May in Galveston. What a month it’s shaping up to be. Recently at the annual Tourism Summit, Kelly de Schaun mentioned the importance of arts, preservation and ecotourism.

These types of tourists spend more time and money than an average tourist and don’t stress our infrastructure as much as other type of tourists. Back in 2008, when I was the president of the Galveston Historical Foundation, I mentioned then that a heritage tourist spent on average $1.70 for every $1 a beach-going tourist spent, a figure that continues to increase.

The Landmarks Commission for the city of Galveston recently approved the 100th and 101st landmarked properties. Catherine Gorman, the city’s historic preservation officer, noted that there were only seven when she started in 2005, and was proud that her home was the 100th to be landmarked. Congratulations!

On May 23, please plan to attend the city council meeting. It’s at this meeting that the city and the Landmarks Commission will honor homeowners and businesses on their successful restoration projects. It’s an inspiring and interesting event.

The Strand is seeing a boom in some historic buildings being restored led by the Bassett family and Mitchell Historic properties. I know I’m looking forward to the completion of these properties, which will make The Strand even more inviting to residents and visitors alike.

Galveston Historical Foundation has recently moved some of its offices back to The Strand in the recently restored Hendley Market Building. A very fitting place for this organization that started on The Strand. At the reception for this, I saw Peter Brink, the leader and visionary of this organization in the 1970s who was instrumental in the restoration of the Mechanic Strand Historic District.

The 45th annual Galveston Historical Foundation homes tour is held the first two weeks of May, and more than 4,000 folks will tour the homes opened to them by generous homeowners. If history is any indication, more than a few will decide to invest in our island and call it home, and others will help fill our hotels and restaurants.

The Bryan Museum is holding a series of historic lectures this month including local couple Michael and Ashley Cordray, the stars of “The Big Texas Fix” airing on the DYI channel this month, exposing a national audience to our historic treasures.

We’re fortunate to live in a place where history surrounds us with such an expansive inventory of historic properties. As a BOI (born on the island) once told me, the reason he was so proud of this distinction was because it was a way of honoring all those who came before him and survived The 1900 storm. A wonderful tribute, and one that should make all of us lucky enough to live by the sea lucky enough. History is to me comforting and a great roadmap for the future, because if you don’t know where you’ve been, how will you know where you’re going?

Tom Schwenk lives in Galveston.


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