TEXARKANA, Texas — The Texarkana Museums System is seeking financial backing for Ace of Clubs House preservation because COVID-19 and the economy have nixed a Texas grant, says the top TMS official.
"This has been our third attempt to garner preservation funds through the Texas Preservation Trust Fund Grant process for the historic 1885 Ace of Clubs House," said Velvet Cool, board president for the Texarkana Museums System, in a news release.
"This process is very competitive and requires applicants to submit an initial application and then, if invited to the second phase, a detailed project proposal. This year we were finally recommended for the maximum funding of $30,000 from the Texas Historical Commission. As this is a grant requiring a match by the museum system, we would have been able to tap into $60,000 to do some much needed work to the Ace of Clubs House," Cool said.
However, COVID-related economic difficulties in Texas have stopped disbursement of these funds, according to the TMS. They would have helped with improvements to the drainage system and to the windows, aspects of the Ace of Clubs House preservation that must be addressed soon.
Hence, the TMS will start what they call the Adore to Restore campaign to preserve the Ace of Clubs House. Look for mailings, social media posts and interviews with traditional media about the need.
In an interview, Cool said, "The money's there in our community, and I believe that our community just needs to be reminded of how truly important and unique this house is." It's not just a pretty house that happens to be in Texarkana.
"This is, as far as we know it, the only home of this architecture that exists," Cool said, noting the Ace has garnered the attention of HGTV and Bob Vila.
"It's now proven that the (Texas) Historic Commission feels it's worthy of time, effort and money. Now we just need our community to understand that it needs help," the TMS board president said, noting the Museums System turns 50 this year, too.
Cool said there's a chance the funds could be released in the future by the Texas Legislature. They also have leads on other grants. But for now, the funds aren't coming.
"We were going to use our hotel occupancy tax funds for our match," Cool said. Typically, they've heard in mid-December about the grant. "They did let us know that right as they were beginning to make their decisions, the legislature, the state, needed to take back money to allocate it elsewhere, so they asked all the agencies to give back 5% of their budget."
Cool was told that if the THC had the funds, the TMS was recommended for funding. "They did let us know that we were quote-unquote successful," she said. It was the full funding, too, of $30,000.
There's still a chance these funds can be disbursed.
"My understanding is that when the legislature meets for their next session, if they allocate money to this same program, the Texas Preservation Trust Fund, that they are not going to make people reapply and they are just going to issue what they would have issued in this last round," Cool said.
For now, though, the grant funds are not being disbursed and yet the need is there. About windows, for example, repair to them is costly. "They're much more expensive than we had anticipated," Cool said.
Constructed during the Victorian era, the Ace of Clubs possesses an utterly unique floor plan that showcases three octagonal rooms and one large rectangular room. For a century, it served as the private home for three different families.
Olivia Smith Moore, the last Ace of Clubs resident, left the home to the TMS in 1985 because she wanted it to become a museum.
(Anyone wishing to donate should contact the TMS at 903-793-4831; email [email protected]; or donate at www.TexarkanaMuseums.org/donate.)