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Gerald Moorhead speaks on Buildings of Texas (Vol. 2) for Preservation Texas

by SAH News | Nov 13, 2019

Via Abilene Reporter News:

One of Abilene’s best examples of historic preservation got a moment in the spotlight Thursday, when the Preservation Texas Roadshow rolled into town.

Not only did members of Preservation Texas meet at the Elks Arts Center, the grand old building downtown opened in 1913, it also is one of the buildings featured in a book that was highlighted during a presentation Thursday night.

The “trail boss” of the book, Gerald Moorhead, gave a presentation on Volume 2 of “Buildings of Texas,” which was released in July by the University of Virginia Press. The second volume includes the Abilene area. The two-volume project started in 2000, and Moorhead joked he and the other contributors to the book had put miles and miles of Texas on their vehicles.

“We’ve been around the world a number of times,” Moorhead said, “without having to go to Oklahoma.”

Moorhead’s book presentation was an added attraction to the Preservation Texas Roadshow agenda. Preservation Texas is a nonprofit that is sponsoring the roadshows all over the state to share information with local people and organizations interested in historic preservation.

The Roadshow, the second in the series, started Tuesday in Coleman, headed north to the Lubbock area, and then headed south back to Abilene.

“We’re trying to hit all the different parts of the state in a year,” said Evan Thompson, executive director of Preservation Texas, which is headquartered in Austin.

At Thursday night’s presentation, Moorhead noted that with all the buildings in Abilene designed by architect Davis Castle, he could have compiled an entire book just about Abilene.

But with limited space in a book that covers East, North Central, South, and West Texas, plus the Panhandle, choices had to be made. Among the area communities cited in the book are Ballinger and Sweetwater. Ballinger is home to three Victorian “kit houses” designed by George F. Barber, an architect who marketed his designs worldwide through a series of mail order catalogues.

The old Midway Drive-In in Sweetwater also was included for its unique mountain peaks that were painted onto the outside wall of the movie theater.

“If you look closely,” Moorhead said, “this is the only mountain range between the Ozarks and the Rockies.”

The actual Roadshow was Friday at the Elks Building, followed by a trip Saturday for the dedication of a Texas Historical Marker at the Lawn Atlas Missile Base, which has been preserved by Larry Sanders, a member of the Taylor County Historical Commission.

“The designation honors Lawn Atlas Missile Base as an important and educational part of state and local history and one of the only markers related to Cold War history,” Jeff Salmon, chair of the county historical commission, said in a news release.

The roadshows being held statewide by Preservation Texas are designed to assist local preservationists, historians, and community leaders.

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Gerald Moorhead joined SAH in 1977 and is a Life Member. He served as a session chair at the 2014 SAH Annual International Conference.

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