The McLennan County Historical Commission’s medallion program is a well-kept secret, but commission members are trying to change that.
The commission started in the early 1990s to award the 6-inch-wide oval medallions to owners who have restored homes and buildings with historical or architectural significance.
But the program had faded into oblivion until last year, when the commission had 10 new medallions cast out of aluminum.
Those medallions, which cost $175 apiece, have had no takers so far, said Sharon Griffith, of McGregor, a commission member who oversees the program.
But Griffith hopes that once more property owners know about the medallions they will see their value.
“If we got 20 applicants, we’d order 10 more medallions,” she said. “It’s very important for people to be recognized for what they’ve done to restore their properties and have other people know about it.”
She said the medallions are more affordable than getting a state historical marker, which costs about $800. And the criteria are more generous in defining “historical,” she said.
“The property has to be at least 50 years old and have some kind of historical significance,” she said. “We will give them to houses, businesses, barns, anything that has to do with the history of the county and that someone has gone to the trouble to bring back.”
Griffith and her husband, Jim, bought and restored the Deyerle-Fall Mansion in McGregor in the early 1990s. They won both a county medallion and a state historical marker for the stone mansion that was built in 1889 on Old Oglesby Road. The couple live in the house and hold events there.
Griffith said the small county medallion on the front porch sparks discussions with guests about the history of the house.
“It’s a point of pride,” she said. “Invariably, when people come in, they ask, ‘What is this?’ ”
In the past, Griffith said, few records were kept of the marker program, and in the past 15 years it has faded away.
This time, she said, records will be maintained and shared with Baylor’s Texas Collection archives.
Chris Florance, spokesman for the Texas Historical Commission, said other cities and counties have had success with marker programs in encouraging preservation.
“With the markers we give, we want something that really changed the direction of history or had an impact on the state, region or country. When a local organization has the bandwidth to do it, (a local marker program) gives the opportunity to commemorate things of more local importance.”