The Center for Texas Cultural Heritage will be a 60,000 square foot multi-story facility that will introduce visitors to the history of Houston, beginning with the legendary Allen Brothers to the city's transformation into the energy capital of the world. Houston Mayor Annise Parker says the center will be located downtown between Minute Maid Park and the Brown Convention Center.
"We could capture the folks who come to our convention center hotels, to the George R. Brown, to come down for the sports activities, and then send them back out across the region, to tap into the really rich cultural heritage of this area that literally, millions of visitors come to Houston, and never have a chance to experience."
Her vision grew exponentially after talking with businessman John Nau. She says the owner of the nation's largest distributor of Anheuser-Busch products probably knows more about the history of Houston than most people.
"He came back and said, we want to have a state-of-the-art tourism center, that is also and educational center for the young people in our community, that is a magnet for tourists in itself because of the exhibits that we'll be able to put here, much grander than anything I would have ever conceived, and I think most of us here."
Nau says his vision was honed after he went to visit similar facilities around the country.
"It could be a visitor center, it can have the educatinal component, and then it can really capture the spirit of a city. And there is no city better to try to capture than Houston."
Nau and his family kicked off the campaign to raise $40 million dollars with a personal donation of $8 million dollars.
"We want to say to visitors to Houston and our students, that the 'Can Do Spirit' is alive in each of us, and in the city Houston, the state of Texas, you can accomplish whatever you want to accomplish."
The Nau Center for Texas Cultural Heritage is expexcted to be completed in three years.