Thank you for putting your trust in me to lead this great organization for the next year. GHF has accomplished some amazing feats this year in thanks to the outstanding leadership of outgoing president, Jeri Kinnear and CEO, Dwayne Jones.
We completed a successful dry-docking of ELISSA since the first after major renovations in 2012. I am happy to report that with the repairs and the hull preservation work that has been done, she can now look forward to her 140th birthday next year. Also, through lots of hard work by the staff and volunteers of GHF, ELISSA passed the requirements of the USCG for Subchapter R compliance. This will streamline the Coast Guard inspection and make it more standardized and less dependent on the local inspector’s decisions.
Through the use of GHF’s Revolving Fund, we have been able to restore and protect more historic properties, returning them to the community is a key mandate to our mission.
The inaugural Heritage Festival was a great success this past August. It will be bigger this year and include a Sacred Places Tour, opportunities to record your heritage and share your history as well as many other events in the shaded comfort of Kempner Park and the 1880 Garten Verein.
Speaking of parks, in October, Hendley Green was opened! With soon to be majestic oaks and historic water fountains, this public green space in the Strand-Mechanic Historic District will pull people together and provide a place to connect with the outdoors.
There are many new and exciting projects at work within the Foundation. One of the biggest is that I can now report, after long deliberations, GHF has signed a lease for the newly rehabilitated Hendley Row building. After sixteen years, GHF will move back to where it all started, The Strand. The Mitchell Family and Mitchell Historic Properties have spent millions in renovations which allow us to move back to our origins. It will also extend the reach of The Strand and spur further economic development.
We have been planning and working on this project for some time and although it won’t be completed overnight, Bishop’s Palace needs a new roof. We need to focus on raising the money necessary to purchase the tiles, which is a year-long manufacturing process in its self, so that future generations can experience the magic of Colonel Walter and Josephine Gresham’s beautiful home.
Seagull II is integral to the mission of GHF, however it is time to replace her with a newer vessel for several reasons. Her electrical, mechanical, and structural systems are nearing their maximum lifespan without major investments. She now spends precious time being repaired instead of working. Not only does this cost GHF but it is disappointing and aggravating to those who enjoy her tours.
We have many great and worthy goals for 2016-2017 and beyond. Preserving our history is not easy, but is crucial to understanding and learning from our past and honoring our forefathers. Please help me and Galveston Historical Foundation continue this work of honor and preservation.