Preserve America Community:
Calvert, Texas, (population 1,495) was founded in 1868 as a classic Texas railroad boomtown with great expectations. By the end of the 19th century, Calvert had become the fourth largest city in Texas with a population exceeding 10,000. As a primary trade center, the city attracted new residents and businesses from bypassed early Robertson County settlements. Migration from rural areas to urban communities continued as newly developed farm machinery replaced farm laborers. Over the years, as many as 30,000 immigrants disembarked at Calvert and fanned out over the entire western United States.
Calvert has retained the majority of its original 19th century commercial and residential structures with a minimal number of 20th century intrusions. Its architectural treasures include Victorian, Queen Anne, Four Square, Mission, Beaux-Arts, Georgian, Colonial and Prairie School styles.
One building, known today as the Katy Hamman-Stricker Library, has been a central part of the community for almost 100 years. However its origin as a chapter house for a group of progressive women, the first American Woman’s League chapter in Texas to qualify for a League-built clubhouse, had been forgotten. The 1909 clubhouse has been minimally changed and still has some of the original pieces from a furniture package that came with the building. When the organization dissolved, the building was given to the city and eventually became the city library in 1939 under the auspices of the Calvert Woman’s Club.
The building’s history was rediscovered by chance in 2003. It was designated a Texas Historic Landmark in 2004, with the marker dedication kicking off a capital campaign to restore the building. The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Calvert Woman’s Club a “We The People” grant to partner with the city, the chamber of commerce, the Robertson County Historic Commission, Texas A&M University, and a specialist to develop an interpretation plan for the building. The Woman’s Club will be applying for an additional grant to implement the plans and create a rewarding visitor experience, with the goal of a fully restored building and a bigger and better interpretive exhibit by “Katy’s 100th Birthday” in 2009.
Calvert’s latest project expands the town’s economic potential by focusing on heritage tourism. Calvert’s Chamber of Commerce, Historical Foundation, and the Robertson County Historical Commission promote heritage tourism with Web-based information, brochures, and a recently published driving tour. Annual events include historic home tours and a Victorian tea and gala. Calvert is also a participating member of the Texas Brazos Trail, a regional heritage tourism program managed by the Texas Historical Commission.
For more information
Calvert Chamber of Commerce: www.calverttx.com
Posted March 18, 2009