Preservation Texas announces 2021 Most Endangered Places list; spotlights threat to Dunbar Historic District in San Marcos

Staff Reports

SAN MARCOS, Texas — Preservation Texas announced its annual list of Most Endangered Places on December 23, 2021. The nine endangered places included on the 2021 list are of historic, architectural, and cultural value statewide.

The Most Endangered Places list is a call to action to ensure that treasured sites will endure for generations to come. Since 2004, more than 150 imperiled historic places have been listed, of which only 14, or 9%, have been lost.

“The work of saving these places is intensely local, but successful local efforts benefit immensely from regional and statewide partnerships and publicity,” said Preservation Texas executive director Evan Thompson. “Each one of these sites is worthy of private and public preservation investment, and the overall list reflects a range of preservation challenges that will require dedicated efforts to overcome.”

This year’s list includes the Dunbar Historic District in San Marcos. After the Civil War, formerly enslaved men and women in Hays and Caldwell counties gravitated to San Marcos, particularly after the arrival of the railroad in the 1880s.

Most African-Americans settled south and west of the courthouse square in an area near the railroad that was often flooded by Purgatory Creek. Later known as the “Dunbar Neighborhood,” it was here that modest frame houses and an early Freedmen’s Bureau school were constructed. Later, the imposing 1908 First Baptist Church towered over the neighborhood, populated by some of San Marcos’s leading Black families, including the blacksmith Ulysses Cephas.

Repeated catastrophic flooding, changing demographics, and well-intentioned but physically destructive “redevelopment” efforts throughout the 20th century have resulted in a significant loss of historic resources.

Last surveyed in the 1990s, local residents and preservationists have set a goal of re-surveying the neighborhood, applying for National Register designation, restoring landmark public buildings, and ensuring that the Dunbar Neighborhood’s important history survives.

The complete list of nine sites are located in urban and rural settings across the state. 

    • East End Neighborhood in Brazoria

    • Ethiopian Star Lodge Hall in Dabney Hill near College Station

    • Krupp Building in El Paso

    • Quanah City Park in Quanah

    • Dunbar Historic District in San Marcos

    • Scobee Adobe and Fort Davis Masonic Lodge Hall in Fort Davis

    • Old Fort Parker near Groesbeck

    • Stephen F. Austin Elementary School in Wharton

    • 1921 Young County Jail in Graham

For more information about each site, visit

Preservation Texas is a private, non-profit, member-supported preservation education and advocacy organization based in San Marcos, Texas. Preservation Texas is also restoring the 2,400-acre Bassett Farms Conservancy near Kosse, Texas.

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