New preservation project underway in First Ward

Monday, February 16, 2015
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A group is trying to preserve the history of Houston?s First Ward despite the continuing growth around the area

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The paint may be chipped and jagged edges of glass frame the windows of days past.

"I'm always rooting for the underdogs," Dominic Yap is determined what lies in the shadows of downtown won't all become history. He says, "I'm actually a Malaysian, I was brought here because of work in the oil and gas industry but when I grew up I grew up in working class community."

Yap calls it a passion. As townhomes go up all around him Yap tried to preserve the historic First Ward one home at a time.

"These homes have withstood a hundred plus years of hurricanes," he said.

The minute you walk through the front door of a home just renovated and about to be sold on Shearn Street you see original materials. When fixtures and framing is replaced Yap finds items from the same time period, like the light fixtures in the front living room.

Rob Griffith is a realtor and outgoing President of the First Ward Civic Council.

He says, "The bulldozers came in and things started changing quickly about 2 1/2 years ago."

Griffith and Yap are both part of a group trying to preserve the history of Houston's First Ward.

He adds, "I think Houston has done a really bad job of preserving its neighborhoods for the most part. We do have 20 historic districts now."

The slogan for the First Ward Heritage group is "respectfully restored."

Griffith says, "I have a passion for history and saving history and I know we can't save everything."

They want future generations to actually see the past not just from pictures but in person.

Yap says, "The point is to make sure the house lives on long after we are gone."

The group is working on a seventh and eighth home now in the neighborhood.