Saturday, May 04, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History May 5

Texas Conference Historical Center Dedicated at Lakeview  May 10, 1956

One of the great successes of the Texas Annual Conference in the post-World War II era was the acquisition and construction of a conference center in Anderson County near Palestine.  The first cabins opened in 1949, and the demand for camping experiences quickly led to more construction.  The facility was named Lakeview.

In April 1956 the Central Building opened as the grandest structure on the campus.  The Central Building was by no means rustic.  It was a modern comfortable hotel-style building with an assembly hall, diner, offices, and sleeping facilities.  The main hall featured a most pleasing view of Lake Lemons

One month after its opening, one room in the Central Building was officially dedicated as the Texas Conference Historical Center.  The featured speaker was Bishop A. Frank Smith whose message was “Our Glorious Heritage.”  Bishop Smith was a history buff who was quite proud of his Texas Methodist ancestors.   He had presided over the Texas Annual Conference since 1934, the year Texas Methodists celebrated their centennial.  

The new facility thus provided what was intended to be a permanent home for the contents of the Conference Trunk and other significant materials relating to the history of the Texas Conference.  The first donors of historical materials included S. S. McKenney, Mrs. J. Walter (Kate) Mills, Joe Z Tower, F. W. Dibble, Mrs. A. A. Wagnon, F. C. Woodward and Dr. and Mrs. W. C. Windham. 
The Texas Conference Historical Society managed the Center and actively solicited donations of historical materials and bought volumes for a rudimentary library. 

  In 1968 with the creation of the United Methodist Church by merger of the Methodist Church and the EUB Church, a Texas Conference Commission on Archives and History was created.  The new Commission replaced the Historical Society as the custodian of the materials in the Historical Center.    The Discipline of the new UMC also mandated that each annual conference have an archive so the Historical Center at Lakeview was given that role.

Facilities at the Historical Center in the Central Building had not been constructed to archival standards and were not large enough to accommodate the archives so the Historical Center and archives were later transferred to Lon Morris College in Jacksonville.  


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