Historic Varner-Hogg Plantation Site Will be Preserved (TX)

WEST COLUMBIA, TX, 8/6/2008:- The Texas Historical Commission (THC) in conjunction with The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national land conservation nonprofit, recently acquired 230 acres of land adjacent to the Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historic Site near West Columbia. The acquisition, the first between the agency and the organization, will ensure visual protection of the plantation in its historic setting near the banks of the Brazos River.

Founded in 1824 by Martin Varner, one of Texas’ first colonizers, the property has housed rum distilling, cotton growing and oil drilling as it transitioned through several families over the years. Slavery played an important role in the survival of the plantation’s early economy and the THC hopes to develop the interpretation of that story in its plan for the site. The acquisition creates many opportunities to present the site’s history to the public.

“Generations of Texans lived and worked at Varner-Hogg Plantation and our goal is to preserve it and tell that story. As we develop our long range plan for interpretation we can now be assured the site will be protected from any visual intrusion by adjacent development. We are especially grateful to The Trust for Public Land for its assistance and expertise.”

The privately owned land sold for just over $1.1 million and borders the road leading to the entrance to the site. Development could have threatened the experience of visiting the plantation in its original setting. Varner-Hogg Plantation was one of 18 historic sites transferred from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which had previously sought to acquire the land, to the THC in January. The site was donated to the state in 1958 by Ima Hogg, daughter of former Gov. James S. Hogg, and features a majestic antebellum mansion along with Hogg family heirlooms, period furniture and historic documents.

“The Varner-Hogg Plantation is both a historical treasure and a beautiful landscape,” said TPL’s Texas State Director Nan McRaven. “We are excited to work with the Texas Historical Commission to bring the viewshed into the historic site and give Texans improved access to the land.”

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has conserved more than 2.5 million acres of land nationwide in Texas. TPL has protected more than 32,000 acres for communities, including areas in and around Arlington, Austin, Dallas, Denton, Houston, Corpus Christi and San Antonio. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations and businesses to achieve its land for people mission.

Texas Historical Commission is the state agency for historic preservation. The agency administers a variety of programs to preserve the archeological, historical and cultural resources of Texas.