Waco cemetery project earns Texas Historical Commission Award

From the City of Waco Public Information Office

The Texas Historical Commission presented a THC Preservation Award of Merit to the First Street Cemetery Memorial Advisory Committee during the City of Waco Council Meeting Tuesday, Aug. 3.  

The First Street Cemetery committee members Annette Jones (retired, City of Waco assistant city attorney), Nesta Anderson (archaeologist, principal investigator), and Melanie Nichols (archaeologist) were granted the Award of Merit for their significant contributions in historic preservation and public outreach through documentation of the First Street Cemetery project. Formal presentation of the award was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The First Street Cemetery, the oldest public cemetery in Waco, is south of the Brazos River and east of Interstate 35. After the 1960s construction of I-35, the City developed plans for a Texas Ranger Museum and campground, and a court order was issued in 1968 to disinter human remains within the proposed construction space to another portion of the cemetery. 

However, in 2007, during construction of the Texas Ranger Company Headquarters building, it was discovered that human remains were still located in the area covered by the 1968 court order. As a result, the City, the National Park Service, THC, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation executed a Memorandum of Agreement for the mitigation of adverse impacts to historical property and to remove the land use restrictions. 

The Committee, consisting of sixteen community members, served between 2013 and 2018; it was formed and tasked with making recommendations to the City Council on the reburial of the remains, appropriate memorial services, plaques, and memorials to be erected at First Street and the reburial site. The Committee carefully took into consideration the community’s input and consistently provided thoughtful feedback for the many decisions to be made regarding reburials.  

The THC and the City of Waco recognize the commitment of the Committee and these additional individuals to ensure a positive outcome for the impacts at First Street Cemetery and commend the example they provide for future cemetery projects. 

The THC’s Award of Merit recognizes the efforts and/or contributions of an individual or organization involved in preserving Texas’ cultural and historical resources. This award recognizes the efforts and/or contributions of an individual or organization involved in preserving Texas’ cultural and historical resources. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

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