Magnolia Brewery Building Saved from Demolition

Houston does not have a good reputation for recognizing and saving its historic buildings. Even though many have been lost, an amendment to the city's historic preservation ordinance is saving some of the city's historic buildings from the wrecking ball. Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice reports.

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In 2005 Houston's preservation law was amended to establish a voluntary "protected landmark designation". The first commercial building to receive the status is the Magnolia Brewery Building on the corner of Franklin and Commerce. Bart Truxillo has owned the building for almost four decades. He says the protected landmark status means one important thing.

"This building can not be torn down by me or my heirs or anyone I sell it to, so this is a first for Houston."

The Magnolia Brewery Building is also on the National Register of Historic Places and in 2003 it was designated as a Texas Historic Landmark. It was built in 1893 as the home for Magnolia and Southern Select Beers. Two decades later it became the Houston Ice and Brewing Company. It had been sitting vacant for about a dozen years whenTruxillo bought it in 1968 and after a major clean up and restoration it's been in use then.

Houston Mayor Bill White says financing projects like this can not, in large part, comes from the city despite the benefits of historic buildings.

"They're great for reminding us where this city's come from, they provide character and continuity to our great city. We're tired of seeing these historical structures demolished, but we also live in a market system here in Houston where much of the investment in these structures which are in private hands will have to come from people like Bart in the private sector."

Bart Truxillo hopes his peers take up the challenge and change the city's image.

"Houston has had a terrible reputation for historic preservation but this is the first step toward correcting that and I'm hoping my neighbors with historic buildings will do the same thing with their buildings."

Since the Historic Protected Landmark amendment was passed in 2005, there are 15 public building, 14 residential structures and one private organization building with or in the process of seeking the protected status that will keep them from ever being demolished.

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