|Brazos Heritage Society ByLaws|
The Brazos Heritage Society will serve as the premier resource for fostering public awareness of Brazos County’s rich history and valuable historic resources through strategic partnerships, community outreach, and high-quality educational materials.
The Brazos Heritage Society is dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of Brazos County, specifically to identify, document, and preserve the architecture and historical context of Brazos County; promote the community’s appreciation of its history through advocacy and educational programs; combat the deterioration of older parts of our community through education, advocacy, and special projects.
The year was 1975. On the corner of 30th and Haswell in Bryan an 1870s Italianate-villa-style brick home sat, slowly falling into ruin, in very real danger of being bulldozed. A small group of concerned neighbors banded together to save this endangered local landmark, their effort ultimately giving a new lease on life to the historic Cavitt House, named after its builder, William Richard Cavitt. In 1976, the Cavitt House received its National Historic marker.
Preserving this architectural treasure, considered to be one of oldest large homes in Brazos County, became the catalyst for forming the Citizens for Historic Preservation, re-named the Brazos Heritage Society in 1993. Building on this first successful preservation effort, the Brazos Heritage Society has continued its mission to preserve and restore valuable historical resources in Brazos County, and educate the County’s citizens about the value of our local history.
In the years since saving the Cavitt House, the Brazos Heritage society has assisted in multiple projects, including rescuing the Hudson/Harrison House in 1984; rescuing, archiving, and indexing the Cavitt Collection of photographs and ephemera; and the construction of Heritage Park in the Eastside Historic District (next to the Cavitt House), which was subsequently donated to the City of Bryan. We have also participated in Downtown NOW, Bryan Main Street, the Carnegie Garden, Friends of Old City Hall, and “Save the Queen.” Additionally, we helped support the creation of the Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley in 1996, and the Brazos Valley African American Museum in the late 1990s.
As part of our educational mission, the Brazos Heritage Society published the free historic site directory A Guide to Historic Brazos County in 1993, Historic Brazos County, an Illustrated History by Robert Borden in 2005, and reprinted Ms. Margaret Van Bavel’s Birth and Death of Boonville in 2004. The Society also created a Community Marker for the site of the historic, and infamous, Booneville Jail on Booneville Rd.
Most recently, we’ve promoted and educated the public on the Turner-Peters Dogtrot Cabin project, the star attraction for the Booneville Historic Site, adjacent to the Boonville Cemetery. In 2014, we partnered with a concerned local citizens group, The Friends of Temple Freda, to rescue the County’s first Jewish synagogue, a small Greek Revival built in 1913 on Parker Street in downtown Bryan, behind Old Bryan Marketplace across from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. This project is anticipated to take approximately five years and will likely cost $1 million plus to complete.
Brazos Heritage Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, governed by an Executive Committee. While we do not currently hold monthly meetings, we do hold an annual meeting in February of each year, which is open to the public.
President: Stephanie A. Hilliard
Vice President: Leo Gonzales (current owner of the Cavitt House)
Secretary/Research Chair: Sheild Fields
Of Counsel: Judge Tom McDonald
Events Chair: Randy Hilliard
Membership Chair: Shirley DuPriest
Community Relations Chair: Randy Haynes
What began as a neighborhood 4th of July celebration in the Eastside Historic District has developed into the more formal 4th of July in Heritage Park, a free community event put on by the Brazos Heritage Society. This morning event features a flag raising and tribute by The Sojourners, a children’s parade, a live band, refreshments, and a number of exhibitors booth put up other local non-profit groups in Brazos County.
We also set up a booth at several local events such as Boonville Days in October, Worldfest in November, and Spirit of Texas in April. Our booths showcase information on our latest project(s), a model of Boonville (courtesy of Mrs. Sheila Fields), a map showing where the Old 300 settlers lived before they moved to Austin’s Colony, antique books, books for sale, and a butter-churning demonstration.