Thirty seven years ago, Lera Millard Thomas, the wife of Congressman Albert Thomas began collecting historic buildings. She placed them on her family property just north of Nacogdoches. We know it today as Millard's Crossing, the largest heritage project in East Texas.
" This is the old Methodist parsonage," said Millard's Crossing director, Susie Lower as she walked into one of the historic structures. The state recognized tour guide can lead tours of the heritage village in her sleep. This year her tours have more purpose in mind. " I want to introduce you to the Pine's Garden Club." The volunteers are decorating the village for the annual Christmas celebration.
The volunteer support is always appreciated. However, in a more crucial way, financial donations to the village's Legacy Campaign are badly needed. President of the Millard's Crossing Historic Village Inc., Cheryl Adamson said, " We have begun to establish local ownership." When the locally controlled foundation raises $100,000 the current owners will give the historic village to the local group. About three-fourths has been pledged.
Right now the village has dual ownership. A Dallas foundation owns half. The Millard family the rest. That makes it difficult to qualify for grants. Adamson explained, " The other foundations that we apply to for grants look at that and that complicates us getting grant money. Plus a lot of people locally have felt like because there's no local ownership then you should they support Millard's crossing."
Many locals visit for the first time during special events, like Friday's Old Fashioned Christmas Celebration. Lower begins to practice her Christmas carols on a slightly out of tune antique piano. As an organizer she wants visitors to go away with an appreciation of historic preservation and the satisfaction of knowing their admission will allow the village to continue to honor the past and enrich the future.