The Texas Historical Commission (THC) is the state agency for historic preservation. We save the real places that tell the real stories of Texas.
Our staff consults with citizens and organizations to preserve Texas' architectural, archeological, and cultural landmarks. The agency is recognized nationally for its preservation programs.
The commission is composed of 12 citizen members appointed by the governor to staggered six-year terms. Agency employees work in various fields, including archeology, architecture, history, economic development, heritage tourism, public administration, and urban planning.
The Texas State Legislature established the agency in 1953 as the Texas State Historical Survey Committee with the task to identify important historic sites across the state. The Texas Legislature changed the agency's name to the Texas Historical Commission in 1973. Along with the name change came more protective powers, an expanded leadership role, and broader educational responsibilities.
To protect and preserve the state’s historic and prehistoric resources for the use, education, enjoyment, and economic benefit of present and future generations.
Our business is to preserve and leverage Texas’ diverse history for the social and economic benefit of its citizens. We are committed to:
- Empowering our local, state, and national partners to effectively preserve the resources that keep Texas history alive
- Teaching Texas communities to use historic assets to help create economic opportunities and foster a sense of place
- Cultivating a culture of creativity and excellence for our employees
- Serving the residents of Texas and our diverse clients with the highest standards of professionalism, responsiveness, consistency, accountability, and ethics
Values are beliefs that are shared among the staff and leadership of the agency and are woven into our day-to-day work, in the projects we undertake, and in the decisions we make.
We share the following key values with all preservation partners in Texas, as articulated in Preservation Connection: Texas' Statewide Historic Preservation Plan:
- Quality of life: Historic places enhance the general well-being of individuals and communities.
- Authenticity: We focus on telling the real stories of the state’s history through the places, structures, objects, and traditions that convey them authentically.
- Cultural Diversity: We preserve the places and stories of Texas’ rich cultural heritage and communities.
- Partnerships: We work together across cultures, interests, and disciplines to achieve mutually beneficial goals.
- Communication: We keep people informed and develop strong lines of communication internally and externally with partners and stakeholders.
Historic Preservation Office
The THC serves as the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) as required by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA), as amended. The NHPA directs all states to administer federal preservation laws and policies. These policies and programs serve as the foundation for all SHPOs and for a unified national historic preservation effort.
Under the NHPA, the THC is required to:
- Survey and inventory historic resources
- Nominate significant historic resources to the National Register of Historic Places
- Identify and mitigate resources potentially affected by federally controlled projects (Section 106)
- Facilitate the federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit program
- Administer the Certified Local Government program
- Prepare and implement a comprehensive statewide preservation plan
- Provide public information, education, training, and technical assistance in historic preservation
- Provide funds to the public for preservation activities
2015 Economic Impact of Historic Preservation in Texas
In 1999, the THC commissioned a study (a collaboration between Rutgers University and the University of Texas at Austin) that quantified the economic contributions of historic preservation in Texas. The 1999 report (PDF) became one of the earliest and most comprehensive research efforts on this topic in the United States.
In 2015, UT Austin and Rutgers University once again collaborated to publish an update to the study on the economic impact investigation. The 2015 report (PDF) was expanded to include programs launched since 1999.