A Publication of the Webb County Heritage Foundation
H E R I TAG E REGISTER 2 0 2 0
Y E A R
R E V I E W
Dear Friend of Preservation,
hat a strange year 2020 turned out to be! I’m sure it will stay in our global collective memory as both a time of devastating loss as well as a testament to the courage and compassion of many.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first required the city to go on “lockdown,” we, here at the Heritage Foundation, thought it would be a matter of weeks, or maybe a few months to get back to normal. As time wore on, I am happy to report that our board members stepped up to provide a new level of direction, advice, and support to help this organization forge an unprecedented survival strategy. With most of our usual revenue sources closed down or severely restricted, like most non-profits, we turned to online programming and services in order to keep alive our presence in the community. Museum staff became adept at virtual programing with online exhibits, unique performances staged from the museums, and short videos on historical topics. In June, we were able to re-open our office and museums with all the appropriate health precautions in place. It was a new world for us, not having you, our loyal members in attendance at our usual book-signings, movies on the patio, exhibit openings, and membership gatherings. Most of all, the cancellation of our Founders’ Day Celebration commemorating the 265th anniversary of Laredo’s founding was a bitter pill. Despite the setbacks, we can only count ourselves very fortunate compared to the serious problems encountered by so many all around us. And for this reason, I wish to thank all of you who have stood by us, who continue to show your support, and send messages of encouragement. We are truly grateful to our government, corporate, philanthropic, and individual funders who have worked hard to maintain their support of our mission. We look forward to the coming year, with the hope of a new vaccine and an eventual return to the warmth and camaraderie of all our friends, members, and visitors. With sincere wishes for a healthy and Happy New Year, Webb County Heritage Foundation Board and Staff
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Roberto Vela PRESIDENT
Henry E. Sauvignet
500 Flores Ave., Laredo, Texas Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:00pm Tel. 956-727-0977 Fax 956-727-0577 email@example.com www.webbheritage.org
Rebecca C. Sepúlveda THIRD VICE-PRESIDENT
Armengol Guerra, III TREASURER
Judith G. Gutierrez SECRETARY
AnnaIsabel Alvarez Melissa Amici– Haynes 1005 Zaragoza St., Laredo, Texas Hours of Operation: Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 4pm Tel. 956-727-3480
Rosa Benavides Rosa Maria de Llano Olivia Goren Renée LaPerrière Gabriela Mendoza-Garcia James Moore Antoinette Vela Alex Villarreal
810 Zaragoza St., Laredo, Texas Hours of Operation: Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 4pm Tel. 956-718-2727
STAFF © WCHF 2021 All Rights Reserved San Agustín Cathedral Nicolas Banda
HERITAGE FOUNDATION PROVIDES GUIDED TOURS
East Foundation Land Stewardship Ambassadors learn about Tomas Sanchez, founder of Laredo.
International students at TAMIU tour the Republic of the Rio Grande Museum.
Emmanuel Cristian Academy students enjoy a guided tour of the Rio Grande Civil War Trail exhibit at the Border Heritage Museum.
2020 ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP PARTY
In celebration of our love for local history, the Webb County Heritage Foundation hosted a Valentines’ Membership Cocktail Party on February 13 at the Villa Antigua® Border Heritage Museum. The public was invited to renew or initiate memberships at this time. There are numerous levels of membership participation available from “Student” to “1755 Club”. This also served as the organization’s Annual Meeting with a special report on the organization’s activities.
SEN. ZAFFIRINI HONORS 180TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE RIO GRANDE WITH SENATE PROCLAMATION
State Senator Judith Zaffirini recently honored the Webb County Heritage Foundation with a Senate proclamation commemorating the 180th anniversary of the Republic of the Rio Grande.
months in the mid nineteenth century. Frustrated with boundary problems and Mexico’s centralist regime, citizens banded together to form their own sovereign state which was composed of Coahuila y Tejas, Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon – hence the three stars on the flag. On January 7, 1840, the Republic of the Río Grande was proclaimed by constitutional convention and Laredo was named as its capital. A small structure across the square from San Agustín Church became its headquarters. That structure now houses the Republic of the Río Grande Museum and is operated by the Webb County Heritage Foundation.
“The 180th anniversary of the Republic of the Rio Grande certainly is meaningful and worthy of commemoration by the Texas Senate. This milestone also affords us an opportunity to honor the Webb County Heritage Foundation for its outstanding preservation of the unique and fascinating history of our beloved hometown and of the spirit of the Republic of the Rio Grande. Accordingly, I was delighted to memorialize the celebration and to honor the foundation by authoring Senate Proclamation 202," said Sen. Zaffirini.
“We were delighted to receive this recognition from Sen. Judith Zaffirini and the Texas Senate,” said Roberto Vela, WCHF Board President.
Laredo’s unique chapter in history, the Republic of the Rio Grande, lasted ten
180TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE RIO GRANDE
he Webb County Heritage Foundation began 2020 with big plans for a stellar year of events celebrating three significant anniversaries for us. The year 2020 was to mark the 180th anniversary of the Republic of the Rio Grande, the 265th anniversary of the founding of Laredo, and the 40th anniversary of the Webb County Heritage Foundation. We were able to host the first of these events in January, and after that, the global pandemic brought on by the Coronavirus brought all normal life to a stop.
development, museum planning and design, and museum exhibit design and installation. The new exhibit will tell the story of Laredo’s unique chapter in history, the Republic of the Rio Grande, which lasted 10 months in the mid nineteenth century. Frustrated with boundary problems and Mexico’s centralist regime, citizens banded together to form their own sovereign state which was composed of Coahuila y Tejas, Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon – hence the three stars on the flag. On January 7, 1840, the Republic of the Río Grande was proclaimed by constitutional convention and Laredo was named as its capital. A small structure across the square from San Agustín Church became its headquarters. That structure now houses the Republic of the Río Grande Museum.
A special feature of the Webb County Heritage Foundation’s January 11 cocktail reception celebrating the 180th Anniversary of the Republic of the Río Grande was the unveiling of plans for a new museum exhibit showcasing the Republic of the Río Grande. The event took place at the Republic of the Río Grande Museum on the grounds of La Posada Hotel.
The Jan. 11 reception recognized past presidents of the Republic of the Río Grande – an honor bestowed annually by the WCHF on individuals exemplifying commitment to historic preservation, heritage education, or preservation of historic architecture.
According to Margarita Araiza, Executive Director of the WCHF, EXP Studios of Massachusetts was selected to design the new exhibit for the museum.
“We are looking forward to more attention given to our city’s rich historic narrative and we appreciate the collaboration of La Posada Hotel and the City of Laredo with this 180th commemoration of the Republic of the Río Grande. No other community in Texas can boast being the capital of its own country!” said Araiza, adding, “We welcome everyone to join our events throughout the year and learn more about our community’s contributions to world history.”
“We were thrilled that a design team with a client list that includes the American Heritage Museum, Plimoth Plantation, the Denver Art Museum, the Bob Bullock Museum, the National Constitution Center, the Western Heritage Museum, and the National Archives and Records Administration, among others, would be interested in helping tell the story of the Republic of the Rio Grande in Laredo, Texas,” said Araiza.
For sponsorship information, contact Araiza at the WCHF at (956) 727-0977.
EXP Studios has international expertise in the fields of education, visitor experience 7
FOUNDERS’ DAY CELEBRATION IN TIMES OF CORONAVIRUS
ue to the COVID-19 considerations, the Webb County Heritage Foundation was forced to cancel its annual Founders Day Celebration which had been scheduled for May 16th. “As the only organization that annually commemorates this important historical date, we were heartbroken to have to make this announcement – in particular, because the year marked an important milestone for the city – 265 years since the founding,” said Margarita Araiza, Executive Director.
“What’s Playing on the Phonograph at the Museum?”; a tranquilizing “Meditation with Postcards from the Past”; 360-degree tours of downtown plazas; and much more. In addition, community members and businesses posted congratulatory 265th birthday videos to the city. The public is invited to enjoy these ongoing items of interest concerning local history and heritage by visiting the Webb County Heritage Foundations’ website at www. webbheritage. org, and Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, and You Tube.
The annual Founders’ Day Celebration normally includes a luncheon, the presentation of Heritage Awards for outstanding commitment to historic preservation, the inauguration of the President of the Republic of the Rio Grande, and a presentation of a scholarship to a graduating senior. On the occasion of the 265th anniversary, the Heritage Foundation had partnered with the City of Laredo to expand the celebration to include a bigger fiesta on San Agustin Plaza with food vendors, music, and live historical attractions. In light of widespread closures that included the Foundation’s two museums – the Republic of the Rio Grande Museum and the Villa Antigua Border Heritage Museum – the staff turned to posting online content via social media that educates and entertains on subjects related to local history and heritage. “Museum staff has pivoted to creating an array of videos and livestreaming everything from unique musical entertainment; a mini museum tour from a dog’s point of view; a series called
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D.A.R. AWARD of the Rio Grande Museum. The award is presented for exemplary efforts in restoring buildings, collections, significant objects and other important artifacts. Araiza was pinned with the medal by Dr. Jane Unzeitig, while Regent Mary Freeman, Annabelle Hall, and Leticia Martinez presented her with a commemorative book about the DAR and a patriotic scarf. Pictured (l-r) at the pinning ceremony are WCHF Board Member Judith G. Gutierrez, DAR members Annabelle Hall, Regent Mary Freeman, Araiza, Leticia Martinez, and Dr. Jane Unzeitig.
he Lucy Meriwether Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution presented WCHF Executive Director Margarita Araiza with their Excellence in Historic Preservation Medal on November 18 at the Republic
HERITAGE FOUNDATION PRESENTS CIVIL WAR EXHIBIT – “WAR AND PEACE ON THE RIO GRANDE, 1861-1867” The Webb County Heritage Foundation, in collaboration with the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and American Legion Post 59, hosted “War and Peace on the Rio Grande, 1861-1867,” an exhibit and presentation on the Civil War history of the South Texas region that includes Laredo on January 17. In addition to the exhibit, a book-signing and presentation took place at the American Legion Post 59, directly across the street from the museum at 809 Zaragoza St. Russell K. Skowronek, Christopher L. Miller, and Roseann Bacha-Garza, co-authors of Blue
and Gray on the Border – The Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail talked about their participation in this project. The speakers presented their own Civil War-related specialties, such as colored troops, the economy of the region and battlefield archeology. The museum exhibit which featured historical characters, events, life-size mannequins, and artifacts was on display at the Villa Antigua® Border Heritage Museum. 10
WEBB COUNTY HERITAGE FOUNDATION RECEIVES UNEXPECTED AND VERY WELCOME GIFT
he Webb County Heritage Foundation recently received a gift of $50,000 from the Raymond Martin Gutierrez and Melba P. Gutierrez Charitable Trust. Trustee Albert T. Lowry announced the gift as support for the Foundation’s work in historic preservation, especially in the San Agustin neighborhood which was once home to Raymond M. Gutierrez. “We are overcome with gratitude for the gracious donation of this funding,” said Margarita Araiza, Executive Director of the Webb County Heritage Foundation. “In talking with Mr. Lowry, he expressed the Trust’s desire to be of help in these times of such economic uncertainty - especially for the community’s non-profit organizations.” The funding from this gift will be used to complete the creation of a brand new historic exhibit designed especially for the Republic of the Rio Grande® Museum. The exhibit, which will tell the story of an
independent republic that claimed Laredo as its capital, marks the most significant chapter in Laredo’s story and gives this area its claim to a “seventh flag.” “The capital campaign for this exhibit had begun in January to mark the Republic’s 180th anniversary, but was suspended due to the COVID-19 situation,” said Araiza. “Mr. Lowry’s telephone call came as a complete surprise, and a godsend for this project,” she said. The Webb County Heritage Foundation will always mark this donation as part of the story of how this new exhibit became a reality. The Republic of the Rio Grande® Museum is located at 1005 Zaragoza St. It is open to the public under restrictions posed by COVID-19 conditions. Museum hours are Tuesday – Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
HERITAGE FOUNDATION PRESENTS ONLINE SCREENING OF DOCUMENTARY FILM “CHILDREN OF THE INQUISITION” It features a diverse international cast as they search to discover what happened to their Spanish and Portuguese ancestors as they were pressured to convert to Catholicism or flee during the Inquisition. The film’s revelation of these treacherous journeys and conflicting identities leaves audiences questioning their assumptions about their own family histories and identities. During today’s unprecedented social, ethnic, and racial divisiveness, “Children of the Inquisition” breaks down barriers between people and re-establishes the history we share.
The Webb County Heritage Foundation presented an online screening of the documentary film,
Director Joseph Lovett, a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, first learned of the Inquisition when in 1958 his Rabbi William Braude of Temple Beth El in Providence, Rhode Island gave a sermon “Todos Catolicos - Everyone is Catholic” about Spanish Catholic families who had been converted
“Children of the Inquisition,” a film by Peabody Award-winning director, Joseph Lovett, on June 23 and June 24th. The film was presented in English with Spanish subtitles. The event featured a panel discussion taking place by Zoom featuring the film’s director participating from New York and
from Judaism in the years prior to and during the Inquisition. Thirteen-year-old Joe was fascinated that something that happened 500 years ago could still affect people today.
Anna P. Guerra former Laredoan and genealogist who has researched the topic, based in Houston. The Webb County Heritage Foundation wishes to acknowledge the sponsorship of Lawrence Friedman Realty and Able City for their generosity in making this film available to local audiences.
Anna P. Guerra is a psychotherapist in private practice in Houston, Texas. She is a frequent lecturer and workshop presenter in topics related to psychological functioning, relationships, and the role of art and imagination in mental health. Ms. Guerra is a 9th generation Laredoan who became interested in the Sephardic history of Northern Mexico and South Texas after hearing about her “Jewish” grandmother from Monterrey. She is a regular instructor at the Jung Center of Houston where many of her lectures are available online including a lecture about the often-untold story of the Sephardic history of Northern Mexico and South Texas.
“Children of the Inquisition,” a remarkable reconsideration of history and identity, takes us on a 500-year trek across continents, oceans, and political landscapes when intense religious persecutions forced people to convert, flee, and hide in order to survive. The film follows more “openly Catholic and inwardly Jewish” families from Portugal to Brazil and the Caribbean to the United States and from Spain and Portugal to Mexico to the American Southwest.
Children of the Inquisition Zoom Panel Discussion
The Webb County Heritage Foundation announces an online raffle drawing for chances to win several exciting vacation packages. Purchase tickets today and be entered to win four vacation getaway prizes. Each raffle ticket is $50 with only 200 tickets being sold. Scan the QR code or call (956)727-0977 to purchase a ticket. Drawing will be held live on Facebook once all tickets are sold.
One Week (7-10 days) Vacation Stay in Historic Colonial Gem - San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico The house can sleep 7-8 people comfortably. Package Value: $6,200
Hunting Package - Oryx Scimitar Hunt at Las Lajas Ranch in Zapata, Texas. Package Value: $ 3,670
Casita San Ygnacio Weekend Package Value: $ 600
Weekend Stay for Two Guests at La Posada Hotel Package Value: $ 400 TICKETS
For raffle details scan the QR code, or visit the Webb County Heritage Foundation's website at webbheritage.org.
STABILIZATION OF HISTORIC BUILDING COMPLETED matching grant from the Anonymous Angel Trust, this project represents the Foundation’s dedication to preserving and protecting Laredo’s valuable historic architecture.
The Foundation’s board of directors toured the progress of the work with Frank Briscoe of Briscoe Architectural Conservation during their annual Board Retreat.
Margarita Araiza reviews work in progress with Rick Solis of Able City, Hänsel Hernandez of the THC, and Frank Briscoe.
The Webb County Heritage Foundation recently completed the stabilization phase of a restoration project intended to bring new life to one of Laredo’s oldest buildings located at 819 Zaragoza St. in downtown Laredo. Formerly known as the Lockwood Building after a customs house brokerage located there, it is considered one of the few remaining structures reflective of our community’s early settlement. Through a Texas Preservation Trust Fund Grant from the Texas Historical Commission and a
The Lockwood building is a vernacular masonry building with simple Spanish Colonial details. It is typical in style and construction of the period following the end of hostilities with Native Americans in this area (ca. 1865), and before the railroad reached Laredo (1881). As a greater variety of materials (especially wood) became available by the mid-1870s, traditional regional construction practices – as exemplified in this building – were largely displaced. The building is among the last examples of these traditional structures in the area. With their chipichil roofs (a lime-aggregate slab) supported by vigas, generally narrow rooms, lack of windows in favor of pairs of doors, their architectural ancestors come from a union of Roman residential architecture (e.g., Pompeii), and indigenous, perhaps Mayan, construction methods. By 1870, these traditional buildings had wider rooms made possible by cheap, dimensional lumber from east Texas and southern U.S. forests. Within a few years, the chipichil roofs and the labor-intensive masonry walls gave way to gabled wood roofs and, for the most part, wood framed or brick structures.
SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS
Canseco House Community Garden, Eugene Ruiz, First Place Winner
2020 HISTORIC LAREDO PHOTO COMPETITION EXHIBIT the talented photographers who participated in this competition. Mr. Eugene Ruiz’ photo of “Canseco House Community Garden” was selected as the First Place winner, and is featured on the cover of the calendar. Mr. Ernesto Gonzalez’ photograph of the “Texas A&M International University” won Second Place, and Ms. Mariela Molano's photo “Webb County Court House” won Third Place. Photos selected for the calendar were judged among entries submitted to the Foundation’s Historic Laredo Photo Competition conducted last summer. The Photo Competition was designed to foster a greater appreciation of the region’s historic architecture, significant landmarks, and other notable historical features. In addition, the calendar features some of the important dates in Laredo’s history which serve as a convenient educational tool. The 2021 Historic Laredo calendar is now available for sale to the public.
he Webb County Heritage Foundation hosted a virtual exhibit of entries in the “Historic Laredo” Photo Competition on December 15 at webbheritage.org. The public is invited to view all the competition entries which are on exhibit on the website and at the Villa Antigua® Border Heritage Museum throughout the month of December and January. The Webb County Heritage Foundation wishes to acknowledge the work of all
Virtual Award Ceremony and Exhibit
Laredo A Pictorial History By Dr. Jerry Thompson Limited Edition Hard Cover Book
Purchase a Calendar
Purchase this long-awaited third edition featuring five new chapters and lots of photos documenting Laredo’s colorful history!
A Pictorial History by Dr. Jerry Thompson
Order your copy today at www.webbheritage.org
Laredo A Pictorial History By Dr. Jerry Thompson Soft Cover Book
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