In an effort to qualify for a state grant to refurbish its headquarters, The Upshur County Senior Citizens Organization is seeking the public’s help in learning details of the history of the 99-year-old building at the intersection of Harrison St. and Silver Alley in Gilmer.
The project is aimed at getting the building placed on the Texas Historical Building Register, and at establishing a data base to enable application for a Preservation Grant from the Texas Historical Commission. The grant would help finance refurbishing the building’s exterior, according to a news release from the senior citizens group.
Listing on the register qualifies the building for a state historical marker, said Jerry Holsworth, vice president of the senior citizens organization. He said he established the building’s age by reading the late D.T. Loyd’s book A History of Upshur County, Texas, published in the 1960s, and that he has consulted the Upshur Historic Museum.
Constructed in 1914, the building was once a jail, set up for a live-in jailer whose wife fed the prisoners, Holsworth said. Over the years, it has also housed Gilmer City Hall and the Gilmer Police Department at various times.
To qualify for the register and grant, the news release said, “the building history needs to have a detailed history of its many uses over the years and the major modifications that have been made. It will not be an easy task due to lost, missing and damaged records. UCSCO will form a research committee to gather and collate all the information gathered.”
The committee’s goal is having all possible information available by October, and collating it into a detailed history to submit to the Texas Historical Commission before December. That would allow obtaining a Preservation Grant in 2014 when funds become available.
The committee asks Upshur Countians “to volunteer any information you have or any possible sources that you may have. Possible sources are some of your relatives, diaries. . . family scrapbooks, old letters,” etc., the news release said.
Anyone with information is asked to call UCSCO President Carl Torchia at 903-843-2326 or organization Secretary Helen Holsworth at 903-843-4324.
When all data is collated and final reports are written, the information will be made available to the public. The committee plans to give periodic updates of progress in The Gilmer Mirror.