San Antonio Conservation Society Honors Historic Preservation in the Written Word with 2017 Publication Awards

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Books on subjects relating to Texas history, architecture and culture are winners of the San Antonio Conservation Society’s annual 2017 Publication Awards.

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“The Conservation Society has sponsored this award program for publications since the 1950s to honor those who keep history, culture and preservation alive."

The American Venice. Courthouse Architecture. Cattle Ranching Empire. Civil War Diary. Julian Onderdonk’s Lost Years. Texas Politics in Pictures. WWII Internment Camp. Texas Trail Drives. The Cotton Revolution. Independent Booksellers. Where Texas Meets the Sea.

Books on these and other subjects relating to Texas history, architecture and culture are winners of the San Antonio Conservation Society’s annual 2017 Publication Awards.

Founded in 1924, the San Antonio Conservation Society is one of the oldest and most active community preservation groups in the United States. Beginning with efforts to prevent historic structures from being razed and to preserve such unique sites as the city’s Spanish Colonial missions, the society has been responsible for saving most of the historic attractions that now make San Antonio one of the top tourist destinations in Texas. The Society was integral in the Missions’ nomination as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, initiating the nomination process in 2006 and supporting the nomination until they were awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2015. The Society’s support of the Mission includes the recent substantial donation to Los Compadres operation of Mission San Juan Spanish Colonial Farm.

The winning authors for 2017 will be honored at a luncheon and award presentation ceremony held on Friday, March 24, 2017 at The Argyle, 934 Patterson Avenue. The public is invited to the event. The Argyle offers free self-parking or valet parking.

The event will open with a reception at 10:30 a.m. where attendees will have the opportunity to meet with the authors and other Society members. Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., followed by the award ceremony. Authors will sign and sell copies of their award-winning books until 1:30 p.m.; guests may bring their own copies to be signed. Reservations are $55 per person; seating is limited. Reservations and payment must be received by Friday, March 17 by registering online at http://www.saconservation.org/awards.aspx or mailing a check to the Society headquarters at 107 King William, San Antonio, 78205. For more information on the awards or the luncheon, the public can call the Conservation Society at 210-224-6163.

Conservation Society Publication Award winners for 2017 are (detailed book summaries follow below):

  • “American Venice: The Epic Story of San Antonio’s River” by Lewis F. Fisher. Trinity University Press, 2014.
  • “The Train to Crystal City” by Jan Jarboe Russell. Scribner, 2015.
  • “Another Year Finds Me in Texas: The Civil War Diary of Lucy Pier Stevens” by Vicki Adams Tongate. University of Texas Press in cooperation with the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University, 2016.
  • “The Courthouses of Central Texas” by Brantley Hightower. University of Texas Press, 2015.
  • “Julian Onderdonk in New York: The Lost Years —The Lost Paintings” by James Graham Baker. Texas State Historical Association, 2014.
  • “Picturing Texas Politics: A Photographic History from Sam Houston to Rick Perry” by Chuck Bailey and Patrick Cox. University of Texas Press, 2015.
  • “Rosengren’s Books: An Oasis for Mind and Spirit” by Mary Carolyn Hollers George. Wings Press, 2015.
  • “Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850” by Andrew Torget. University of North Carolina Press, 2015.
  • “The Wests of Texas: Cattle Ranching Entrepreneurs” by Bruce M. Shackelford. Texas State Historical Association, 2015.
  • “Where Texas Meets the Sea: Corpus Christi and Its History” by Alan Lessoff. University of Texas Press, 2015.
  • Children’s Book Category Winner: “Texas Tales Illustrated, #2: The Trail Drivers” by Mike Kearby and illustrated by Mack White. TCU Press, 2015.

“The Society has sponsored this award program for publications since the 1950s to honor those who keep history, culture and preservation alive,” says Janet Dietel, president, San Antonio Conservation Society. “It is gratifying that this award ceremony occurs within days of the anniversary of the Society’s founding on March 22, 1924."

Visit the Society website at http://www.saconservation.org for information.

MORE ON PUBLICATION AWARD WINNERS:

American Venice: The Epic Story of San Antonio’s River by Lewis F. Fisher - Lewis Fisher uncovers the evolution of San Antonio’s beloved River Walk. He shares how San Antonians refused to give up on the vital water source that provided for them from before the city’s beginnings. In 1941 neglect, civic uprisings, and bursts of creativity culminated in the completion of a Works Project Administration undertaking designed by Robert H. H. Hugman. The resulting River Walk languished for years but enjoyed renewed interest during the 1968 World’s Fair, held in San Antonio, and has since become the center of the city’s cultural and historical narrative. Fisher shares stories about the River Walk’s evolution including information about the Museum and Mission Reaches, two expansions of the River Walk that are vital to San Antonio’s continued growth as the eighth largest city in the country. (Taken from Trinity University Press)

The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell - Focusing her story on two American-born teenage girls who were interned in the Crystal City (Family) Internment Camp, author Jan Jarboe Russell uncovers the details of their years spent in the camp; the struggles of their fathers; their families’ subsequent journeys to war-devastated Germany and Japan; and their years-long attempt to survive and return to the United States, transformed from incarcerated enemies to American loyalists. Their stories of day-to-day life, from the ten-foot high security fence to the armed guards, daily roll call, and censored mail, have never been told. (Taken from Simon and Schuster)

Another Year Finds Me in Texas: The Civil War Diary of Lucy Pier Stevens by Vicki Adams Tongate. - One of few women’s diaries from Civil War–era Texas and the only one written by a Northerner, this previously unpublished journal offers a unique perspective on daily life and the ties that transcended sectional loyalties during America’s most divisive conflict. Lucy Pier Stevens, a twenty-one-year-old woman from Ohio, visited her aunt’s family near Bellville, Texas, on Christmas Day, 1859. Little did she know how drastically her life would change on April 4, 1861, when the outbreak of the Civil War made returning home impossible. Stranded in enemy territory for the duration of the war, how would she reconcile her Northern upbringing with the Southern sentiments surrounding her? Lucy Stevens’s diary—one of few women’s diaries from Civil War–era Texas and the only one written by a Northerner—offers a unique perspective on daily life at the fringes of America’s bloodiest conflict. An articulate, educated, and keen observer, Stevens took note of everything—the weather, illnesses, food shortages, parties, chores, schools, childbirth, death, the family’s slaves, and political and military news. As she confided her private thoughts to her journal, she unwittingly revealed how her love for her Texas family and the Confederate soldier boys she came to care for blurred her loyalties, even as she continued to long for her home in Ohio. Showing how the ties of heritage, kinship, friendship, and community transcended the sharpest division in US history, this rare diary and Vicki Adams Tongate’s insightful historical commentary on it provide a trove of information on women’s history, Texas history, and Civil War history (Taken from The University of Texas Press)

The Courthouses of Central Texas by Brantley Hightower - This architectural survey of fifty Central Texas courthouses uses consistently scaled elevation and site plan drawings to describe and compare these historic seats of county government for the first time. The county courthouse has long held a central place on the Texas landscape—literally, as the center of the town in which it is located, and figuratively, as the symbol of governmental authority. As a county’s most important public building, the courthouse makes an architectural statement about a community’s prosperity and aspirations—or the lack of them. Thus, a study of county courthouses tells a compelling story about how society’s relationships with public buildings and government have radically changed over the course of time, as well as how architectural tastes have evolved through the decades. A first of its kind, The Courthouses of Central Texas offers an in-depth, comparative architectural survey of fifty county courthouses, which serve as a representative sample of larger trends at play throughout the rest of the state. Each courthouse is represented by a description, with information about date(s) of construction and architects, along with a historical photograph, a site plan of its orientation and courthouse square, and two- and sometimes three-dimensional drawings of its facade with modifications over time. Side-by-side drawings and plans also facilitate comparisons between courthouses. These consistently scaled and formatted architectural drawings, which Brantley Hightower spent years creating, allow for direct comparisons in ways never before possible. He also explains the courthouses’ formal development by placing them in their historical and social context, which illuminates the power and importance of these structures in the history of Texas, as well as their enduring relevance today. (Taken from University of Texas Press)

Julian Onderdonk in New York: The Lost Years – The Lost Paintings by James Graham Baker - The Lost Years, the Lost Paintings, James Graham Baker explores the artist’s New York years, so often neglected by previous scholars. Through painstaking research, Baker reveals that Onderdonk painted hundreds of images under pseudonyms during his time in New York. These images not only reveal the means by which the artist struggled to make ends meet, but add another dimension to our understanding of the artist’s oeuvre. It is not possible to appreciate and understand Julian Onderdonk and his art without including these works. Largely composed of landscapes and marine scenes depicting the vanishing rural areas and shorelines around New York City, they show that Onderdonk was more than simply a “bluebonnet painter.” Famed for his bluebonnet landscapes, San Antonio native Julian Onderdonk may be the most well-known artist Texas has ever produced. Onderdonk spent several years outside the state, though, seeking to make a name for himself in New York City. He spent much of his time in New York as the very definition of a starving artist, relying on the help of a wealthy patron to make ends meet. This help did not come without strings attached, though, and Onderdonk employed his artistic talents in order to pay off his debts. In Julian Onderdonk: The Lost Years, the Lost Paintings, James Graham Baker explores the artist’s New York years so often neglected by previous scholars. Through painstaking research, the Bakers assert that Onderdonk painted hundreds of images under pseudonyms during his time in the nation’s artistic capital. These images not only reveal the means by which the artist tried to free himself from his debts, but add another dimension to our understanding of the artist’s oeuvre. Largely composed of landscapes and seascapes picturing southern New York, this body of work shows that Onderdonk was more than simply a “bluebonnet painter." (Taken from Texas State Historical Association)

Picturing Texas Politics: A Photographic History from Sam Houston to Rick Perry by Chuck Bailey and Patrick Cox - With rare, previously unpublished photographs and iconic images of politicians from the state’s founders to Ann Richards, George W. Bush, and Rick Perry, here is the first-ever photographic album of Texas politicians and political campaigns. Picturing Texas Politics presents the first photographic album of Texas politicians and political campaigns ever assembled. Chuck Bailey has searched archives, museums, libraries, and private collections to find photographs that have never been published, as well as iconic images, such as Russell Lee’s pictures of one of Ralph Yarborough’s campaigns. These photographs are arranged into four chronological sections, each one introduced by historian Patrick Cox, who also provides informative photo captions. The photographs display power and political savvy from the early Republic to Lyndon Johnson and Bob Bullock; unmatched dedication to Texas in the Hobby and Bush families; and the growing influence of women in politics, from Miriam “Ma” Ferguson to Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, and Kay Bailey Hutchison. With Sam Houston’s jaguar vest, W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel’s hillbilly band, a famous governor with an ostrich, and prominent Texans eating watermelons, shooting guns, and riding horses, this is Texas politics at its liveliest and best. (Taken from University of Texas Press)

Rosengren’s Books: An Oasis for Mind and Spirit by Mary Carolyn Hollers George - Rosengren's Books: An Oasis for Mind and Spirit is the story of a great American family of independent booksellers and the important literary institution they created. From 1935 to 1987, the store was located in various downtown San Antonio locations, but it became most well known as the charming book shop behind the Alamo, where it was visited by thousands of bibliophiles from around the world. (Taken from Wings Press)

Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850 by Andrew Torget - Seeds of Empire tells the remarkable story of how the cotton revolution of the early nineteenth century transformed northeastern Mexico into the western edge of the United States, and how the rise and spectacular collapse of the Republic of Texas as a nation built on cotton and slavery proved to be a blueprint for the Confederacy of the 1860s. By the late 1810s, a global revolution in cotton had remade the U.S.-Mexico border, bringing wealth and waves of Americans to the Gulf Coast while also devastating the lives and villages of Mexicans in Texas. In response, Mexico threw open its northern territories to American farmers in hopes that cotton could bring prosperity to the region. Thousands of Anglo-Americans poured into Texas, but their insistence that slavery accompany them sparked battles across Mexico. An extraordinary alliance of Anglos and Mexicans in Texas came together to defend slavery against abolitionists in the Mexican government, beginning a series of fights that culminated in the Texas Revolution. In the aftermath, Anglo-Americans rebuilt the Texas borderlands into the most unlikely creation: the first fully committed slaveholders' republic in North America. (Taken from University of North Carolina)

The Wests of Texas: Cattle Ranching Entrepreneurs by Bruce M. Shackelford - George, Sol, and Ike West grew up working cattle on the prairies of Lavaca County. At the end of the Civil War, George, the eldest, made his first trail drive, as so many Texans did. But unlike many who made the trip, George saw the venture as the business of moving cattle to market and became a professional drover. His brothers would follow in his footsteps. Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the West brothers trailed herds on the Great Plains, amassed huge ranches in South Texas, built imposing homes in San Antonio, and even founded a town (George West). Their accomplishments were legendary, but today they have been largely forgotten. The West family's history and achievements are examined in this volume illustrated with photographs and personal effects from the family. “What separates the careful work done by Shackelford and researcher Katherine Nelson Hall from many offerings on legendary families of Texas is his reliance not only on primary sources, letters, and ledgers, but also artifacts, paintings, and photographs the West family has painstakingly gathered and maintained over more than one hundred and fifty years”—from the foreword by Marise McDermott. Noted author Bruce M. Shackelford tells the story of the West family of Lavaca County, forgotten Texas legends. Originally from Tennessee, Washington and Mary West moved to Lavaca County, Texas, in the early 1850s. There they raised three sons who were destined to leave an indelible mark on the Texas cattle industry. At the end of the Civil War, George made his first trail drive. As his brothers Sol and Ike came of age, George brought them into his already growing business of trailing cattle herds north. The brothers became some of the most important drovers in cattle business. In their lifetimes their accomplishments were legendary, but today they have been largely forgotten. Their history and achievements are examined in this beautiful volume illustrated with photographs and personal effects from the family. (Taken from Texas State Historical Association)

Where Texas Meets the Sea: Corpus Christi and Its History by Alan Lessoff - Demonstrating how the growth of a midsized city can illuminate urban development issues across an entire region, this exemplary history of Corpus Christi explores how competing regional and cosmopolitan influences have shaped this thriving port and leisure city. A favorite destination of visitors to the Texas coast, Corpus Christi is a midsize city that manages to be both cosmopolitan and provincial, networked and local. It is an indispensable provider of urban services to South Texas, as well as a port of international significance. Its industries and military bases and, increasingly, its coastal research institutes give it a range of connections throughout North America. Despite these advantages, however, Corpus Christi has never made it into the first rank of Texas cities, and a keen self-consciousness about the city’s subordinate position has driven debates over Corpus’s identity and prospects for decades. In this masterful urban history—a study that will reshape the way that Texans look at all their cities—Alan Lessoff analyzes Corpus Christi’s place within Texas, the American Southwest, the western Gulf of Mexico, and the U.S.-Mexican borderlands from the city’s founding in 1839 to the present—a place where westward Anglo expansion overwhelmed the Hispanic settlement process from the south, leaving a legacy of conflicting historical narratives that colors the city’s character even now. Lessoff also explores how competing visions of the city’s identity and possibilities have played out in arenas ranging from artwork in public places to schemes to embellish, redevelop, or preserve the downtown waterfront and North Padre Island. Lessoff demonstrates that Corpus Christi exemplifies the tensions between regional and cosmopolitan influences that have shaped cities across the Southwest. (Taken from University of Texas Press)

Texas Tales Illustrated, #2: The Trail Drivers by Mike Kearby and illustrated by Mack White - Drawing upon the increasing popularity of graphic novels among young readers, Texas Tales Illustrated, #2: The Trail Drives is an innovative retelling of the cattle drive era, sure to become an invaluable classroom resource. Author Mike Kearby and illustrator Mack White designed the book for use in seventh grade Texas history courses, in response to a need for more interactive textbooks, which appeal to the learning styles of students in today’s overwhelmingly visual media culture. White’s detailed line drawings recall classic comic-book style and capture the drama and dangers of trailing cattle, while Kearby’s narration is enticing, full of intriguing historic detail. The comic pages are supplemented with five pages of maps depicting the historic cattle trails. The Trail Drives is the second in the Texas Tales series. The first, Texas Tales Illustrated, #1: The Revolution, was published by TCU Press in 2011. (Taken from TCU Press)

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