Mayor Annise D. Parker

Houston, TX

Public Service Award

This award is given to an elected or appointed government official who has made a significant contribution to the preservation of Texas’ heritage.

In 1949, Houston Chamber of Commerce president, W. S. Bellows, encouraged Houstonians to “surge ahead among the major cities of the world.” He encouraged the community leadership to be “forward thinking” and not spend time “thinking about the past.” Mr. Bellows was a very persuasive man. For most of the twentieth century, Houston built its future with very little appreciation of preserving its past. As the rest of the county was initiating historic preservation regulations, Houston was demolishing the legendary Shamrock Hilton hotel to build a privately-owned park. When Houston did enter the world of historic preservation regulation in 1995, it approved an ordinance that was without real teeth. Any property owner refused a Certificate of Appropriateness by the Houston Archaeological & Historical Commission for an alteration, addition, or demolition of their contributing structure need only wait a 90-day “cooling off” period, after which they could undertake the changes the commission had ruled against. Enter Annise Parker.

City of Houston Mayor Annise Parker has long been a catalyst for changing how Houston views and protects its historic assets. Throughout her community and political career she has supported neighborhood-initiated preservation efforts and has taken bold steps to make Houston’s preservation regulations meaningful.
As a City Council member, she was early supporter of the resident-initiated Old Sixth Ward Protected Historic District. When adopted by City Council in 2007, it became the first district in Houston where the 90-day waiting period didn’t exist. This designation helped residents end the demolition of historic housing stock and preserved its character as one of Houston’s earliest neighborhoods.

As Mayor, she later took on the challenge of overseeing an amendment to the city’s lenient Historic Preservation Code. One year and untold hours of meeting with the preservationists, architects, builders and the public resulted in an improved code that finally protects historically and culturally significant, neighborhoods while allowing structures to be appropriately adapted for current use. Today, more than 6,700 properties located within Houston’s twenty-two historic districts are protected from demolition and inappropriate alterations. Furthermore, an additional 120 Protected Landmarks located throughout the city have the same protection. As a result, inappropriate demolitions have been greatly reduced. In 2002, she received the coveted 2012 Martha Peterson Good Brick Award from the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance for this effort.

Mayor Parker is a forward-thinker who honors the past. She is an accomplished administrator and manager who is committed to using her position to honor and preserve Houston’s historic and cultural assets. Her support of preservation does not stop at the end of the day. She, along with her spouse, Kathy Hubbard, own and manage several historic houses in the Old Sixth Ward and live in a City of Houston Protected Landmark. To say that she “lives” historic preservation is not an exaggeration.

Previous winners: Rep. Harvey Hildebran (2013); Rep. Michael Villareal, San Antonio (2005); Sen. Kyle Janek (2004); Rep. Harryette Ehrhardt, East Dallas (2003); Willis Winters, Dallas (2002); Gene Camargo, San Antonio (2001); Veletta Forsythe Lill, Dallas (2001); Rep. Bob Hunter, Abilene (1999); Mayor Audrey Kariel, Marshall (1998); Lloyd Kelley, Houston (1997)