I’m originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, a place that struggles to hold on to its historic structures. That has been known to demolish them on national TV for pure entertainment value, at the hands of cannon-wielding pirates no less. I grew up in a culture that clears the way for the new and shiny. Moving to Galveston, it was impressive to see so much history. We owe much of the preservation of our history to people standing here in this room and those who made the commitment to Galveston’s history and GHF decades ago.
I personally think history grounds us and, in Galveston, is a defining attribute of our shared sense of place. In preparing for today, and leaning on the wise counsel of past presidents, I explored the idea behind “sense of place.”
Juhani Pallasmaa, the internationally known architect and architectural theorist said, and I can’t say it any better: “Buildings and cities are museums of time. They emancipate us from the hurried time of the present and help us to experience the slow, healing time of the past. Architecture enables us to see and understand the slow processes of history, and to participate in time cycles that surpass the scope of an individual life…”
People, like you and me, share and repeat stories of the experiences they, their parents, and other people had at theaters, restaurants, parks, and houses, as well as events that happened long before their parents were alive.
We not only feel the need to be part of a timeline, both personal and beyond ourselves, but our connection to these places makes us aware that we are part of the continuum, we are connected to people of the past, the present, and hopefully, into the future.
I know I personally feel that connection. I was fortunate to purchase a building in downtown Galveston last year, restore it and move my business into it. I took an empty structure and gave it new life, recognizing the lives it had before I came along. To me my building blended history and potential, it was a place that belonged to me now but came with its own stories. Stories I am still learning from the sweet people who stop by to share their memories, share their connection.
I’m so incredibly excited to serve this coming year as president of GHF. Our incredibly talented staff and tireless volunteers have no equal. And thanks to so much of their hard work we have so many projects to look forward to. We are the proud owners of Ashton Villa and The Depot on Market Street. We hosted the Tall Ships Galveston festival this past spring. We are developing the Galveston History Project. We are redesigning the Texas Seaport Museum. All the while actively rehabilitating homes and structures, working with property owners and preserving our collective sense of place.
You, the members of GHF are ensuring the continued presence of historic spaces and places and their stories; schools and playgrounds, parks and downtown, churches and houses that people value, that contribute to the connection with the arc of time. Our sense of being on a continuum with the past and that awareness gives meaning to our present and enhances our capacity to have a vision for the future.