Historic Clay House earns grant to help study its history

Historic Clay House earns grant to help study its history

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - A longtime goal for the African American Historic Project in Nacogdoches is the restoration of the historic Clay House.

It’s been slow going, but as Donna McCollum tells us the structure has caught the attention of state preservationists, giving local historians increased hope of reaching their goal.

When you enter the Charlie Clay House, you’re stepping into the finest house in the Zion Hill Historic District in Nacogdoches. That’s according to experts with Preservation Texas.

But they also contend it’s the most endangered house in the most-intact 20th century African American working class neighborhood in Texas.

“Charlie Clay was, uh, we’re going to learn more about him through the Historical Structures Report," said Richard Orton, African American Heritage Project member and grant writer.

Orton is anxious to receive that historical structures report. The Summerlee Foundation will pay preservationists to detail the home’s history.

Findings will show major funders why the traditional 1900′s African-American home should be preserved.

“Creating that sort of gives us credibility for people with the money to fund this kind of project," Orton said.

The grassroots organization that owns the Clay House has operated off private donations and proceeds from an annual barbecue. The group says more funding is needed to reach its goal to use the Clay House as a community center and museum.

“It’s also proven to be kind of a cultural melting pot for this area where we have people from different walks of life, different professions, different ethnic groups come here for the barbecue and so we want that to continue,” said Paul Jackson, the president of AAHP.

Orton and Jackson have worked on the goal for more than a decade. In January the analysis should be complete, so the group can go after substantial funding.

The analysis will determine how much money it will take to preserve the home. Local fundraisers remain important. The AAHP will hold its annual barbecue this Saturday at the Clay House on Bois d’Arc Street in Nacogdoches.

Copyright 2019 KTRE. All rights reserved.