- Ima Hogg and the Historic Preservation Movement in Texas, 1950–1975
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Ima Hogg, the only daughter of Texas governor James Stephen Hogg, was born in Mineola, Texas, on July 10, 1882, and died in London, England, on August 19, 1975. During her long life her name became known to virtually everyone in Texas, usually as “Miss Ima.” Her celebrity was partially a result of the unfortunate combination of her first and last names but principally because of the many good works that she engaged in on behalf of the people of Texas. She and her brother William Clifford Hogg, known as Will, were among the state’s pioneer philanthropists, using their family’s oil fortune to support public education and public health in Houston, the Houston Symphony, Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the creation of Houston’s Memorial Park, and the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at the University of Texas.
Ima Hogg was also a dedicated historic preservationist. She made strenuous efforts to build bridges between the national historic preservation movement and the nascent movement in Texas and she tried, by her own example, through shaping public policy, and in creating educational programs, to bring the best preservation practices to her native state. She brought an inquiring mind and a respect for sound scholarship to the cause of historic preservation in Texas. Unlike many of her contemporaries she was truly cosmopolitan; she had none of the provincial suspicion [End Page 1] of easterners that so often hampered intellectual development in Texas.
Since Ima Hogg’s death, five books about her life have been published but none deal extensively with her activities as a historic preservationist. This paper will make use of her correspondence in the Ima Hogg Papers at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History to examine her development as a preservationist from her first venture into the field in 1950 until her death twenty-five years later, giving special attention to her philosophy of preservation, her work in shaping the preservation program of the Texas Historical Commission, her establishment of a model historic preservation project at what is now the Winedale Historical Center, and her efforts to educate Texans about contemporary preservation practices.1
The beginnings of the historic preservation movement in the United States can be traced to the 1850s, when the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union was organized to preserve Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. This group became the model for other preservation groups across the country, and historic preservation remained largely the province of women inspired by patriotic motives to preserve single structures until the 1920s, when John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s efforts to reconstruct colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, and Henry Ford’s attempt to create a monument to progress at Greenfield Village, Michigan, inspired a broader vision of historic preservation based on extensive research into the social history of entire communities.
That vision produced a cadre of professional preservation architects and historians, many of whom gained valuable experience in the 1930s working on federally funded preservation projects carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration under the supervision of the National Park Service, as provided for in the Historic Sites Act of 1935. This first generation of preservation architects began to formulate a body of practices and techniques designed to ensure historical accuracy and the conservation of original materials, and in the 1940s and 1950s it could be said that historic preservation came of age as a field of specialized knowledge and a profession. The youthful years of the movement culminated in the creation in 1949 of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a congressionally chartered body that encouraged and educated local preservationists by promulgating sophisticated conservation techniques and standards.2 [End Page 2]
Although the historic preservation movement in Texas was younger than the movement in the eastern states, the pattern of development was similar. Ima Hogg was by no means the first historic preservationist in...