Growth as future of our history

Sugar Land Heritage Museum closer to opening

The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation is full steam ahead getting closer to the opening of the much awaited museum to happen later this year. Many may already know that the museum will share an 8,000 square foot area with the city visitor’s center on the second floor of the container warehouse building at Imperial. A first class site is expected, not unlike what the city has a reputation for doing – delivering quality for things that start out as projects with a timetable and budget, and before you know it, viola!

In an update earlier this month on May 3, 2017, at a Texas Safari Volunteer Appreciation Dinner hosted by Allison Wen, volunteers were treated to an Imperial Market presentation of the mixed, use “life style center.” That’s what the 26-acre area is being called by Imperial Market Developer/Owner James E. Murnane, who told volunteers that “the project for me and my partners has become a labor of love.” The area where the museum structure is located will be anything but “cookie cutter,” he said, with retail, a combination of restaurant, entertainment, office, hotel, the museum district and a residential component. There will also be a central gathering area, Central Green.

(Submitted photo)
With the iconic smoke stacks in the background, this architectural rending of Central Green at Imperial Market will be a 30,000 square foot area to serve as a welcoming gathering place for visitors. The Sugar Land Heritage Museum’s location is also to be in this site. Furnished by Chuck Kelly

The two iconic brown smoke stacks clearly seen from the street view will still be there, but they are proposed to be moved into the gathering place, the green park in the heart of Imperial Market, a site already showing so much promise. “The idea here is to create something that preserves history, celebrates history, is a place to go and be, and somewhere where it’s comfortable…an important historic place where you feel it,” Murnane told the volunteers.

The museum, set to open this fall, appears to have been fast tracked with the designation of the district in the National Register of Historic Places. That’s the country’s official list of historic buildings, districts, sites, structures, and objects considered worthy of preservation for their significance in American history, architecture, art, archeology, engineering, and culture.

Some will recall that Dennis Parmer, the museum foundation’s former Executive Director, would make it a point to share the importance of the area as the birthplace of Texas, the first Texan home of the 300 settlers brought by Stephen F. Austin in the 1820s.

This historic place in the city continues to undergo restoration with repurposed buildings and new, state of the art structures in the making to be placed around them. A collection of images, both still and moving, are being proposed, not only for inside the museum, but also outside for access with phone and tablet applications. A walk through the market area would then become more relevant for knowing what there was in the past in certain locations.

To date, the City of Sugar Land reports that it has contributed $525,000 for the museum foundation’s operations since 2008, when the foundation was created. It came into being to ensure the preservation of the city’s history. Financial allocations to the museum project and visitor’s center come from hotel and occupancy taxes for economic development and tourism. Sugar Land Councilmembers Mary Joyce and Steve Porter have been credited for providing the leadership to the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation’s board of directors. The museum foundation has been collecting local historical documents for the museum over the past five years. It continues to seek volunteers to help out with many other efforts currently underway. The cataloging collection is chaired by Chuck Kelly, event planning by Bettye Anhaiser with the exhibit committee being chaired by Bruce Kelly, Chuck Kelly and Claire Rogers. Volunteer coordination and publicity, newsletter and social media committees recently were reported to have vacancies. Interested persons may call the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation at 281-494-0261.

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