Our history

Preservation Houston has earned a well-deserved reputation for professionalism and achievement. The organization has gained prominence through serious, behind-the-scenes advocacy and positive public programming.

Greater Houston Preservation Alliance members stand in front of the Kennedy Corner Building, Travis at Congress, during its demolition in 1992. / PH file photo

37 years of service

Preservation Houston was incorporated in 1978 as Greater Houston Preservation Alliance. Within a year of its founding, the group began presenting the Good Brick Awards for excellence in historic preservation, and one year later published its first book, Last of the Past: Houston Architecture 1847 to 1915, with The Heritage Society and the Cultural Arts Council of Houston (now Houston Arts Alliance). Both efforts were early moves toward achieving the organization's mission of creating a preservation ethic for Houston by increasing public awareness and appreciation of our shared heritage.

Houston's first historic preservation ordinance

When Preservation Houston began its work, Houston did not have a historic preservation ordinance and there were no city historic districts or designated landmarks. In 1995, the organization partnered with neighborhood representatives to convince Mayor Bob Lanier that Houston needed to protect its historic resources, resulting in the passage of the city's first historic preservation ordinance. Preservation Houston supported Mayor Bill White and Mayor Annise Parker in their successful efforts to strengthen the ordinance in 2005 and 2011, respectively.

Advocacy and public programming

Our advocacy effort on behalf of iconic Art Deco buildings led to the publication of PH's book Houston Deco, the first extensive examination of modernistic architecture in the Houston area.

As a result of this work, Preservation Houston has earned a well-deserved reputation for professionalism and achievement. The organization has gained prominence through serious, behind-the-scenes advocacy and positive public programming. Preservation Houston played a pivotal role in convincing the Harris County/Houston Sports Authority to preserve Union Station as part of Minute Maid Park. In 2006, Preservation Houston began focusing public attention on the possible demolition of the River Oaks and Alabama theaters; two years later, this effort led to the release of Preservation Houston's book Houston Deco, published with the support of the Architecture Center Houston Foundation and the Strake Foundation. 

In 2008, Preservation Houston launched its "Save Our Astrodome" campaign to promote the preservation of the iconic stadium. That same year, the American Institute of Architects, Houston Chapter, presented its Citation of Honor to Preservation Houston for 30 years of preservation advocacy. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has also recognized Preservation Houston's ongoing efforts to create a preservation ethic for Houston; Preservation Houston has been Houston's Local Partner of the National Trust since 2006.

Greater Houston Preservation Alliance to Preservation Houston

Preservation Houston's new name, logo and tagline, History in Progress, were introduced in 2012.

Preservation Houston's new name, logo and tagline, History in Progress, were introduced in 2012.

After serious consideration, the Board of Directors voted in 2011 to rebrand the organization as Preservation Houston. The new name and logo were officially introduced during The Cornerstone Dinner in February 2012. Preservation Houston's logo incorporates a traditional key to reflect the organization's efforts to preserve historic architecture. The leaf element represents preservation's role in conserving resources by encouraging reuse rather than demolition.

For information about Preservation Houston's past and present work, visit the News section of our website and browse our archive of newsletters dating back to 1981.