Hon. Lyda Ann Thomas
Award Type: Peter H. Brink Award for Individual Achievement in Historic Preservation
After Hurricane Ike slammed into her city in September of 2008, Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas confronted the biggest challenge of her political career: setting her storm-battered community on the road to recovery. Facing that challenge with vision and grit, Mayor Thomas, with the support and commitment of the Galveston Historical Foundation, took decisive actions to preserve the historic buildings that give Galveston its distinctive character.
Under Mayor Thomas’s leadership, a broad-based citizens’ committee was appointed to develop a comprehensive recovery plan. Demanding respect for Galveston’s heritage, the plan focused on reclamation of older neighborhoods, infrastructure repair, code enforcement and hazard mitigation for historic buildings. In addition, Mayor Thomas succeeded in reserving substantial recovery funds for a program to restore cast-iron facades damaged by floodwater in the Strand historic district. The Strand’s cast-iron facades were listed among the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2009.
Thomas also succeeded in convincing Federal Emergency Management Administration to direct funds to nonprofit organizations that own important historic properties in the city. She is currently leading an effort to raise matching funds to restore the damaged roof of Bishop’s Palace, one of the city’s grandest and best-known buildings.
“Success always requires creative, dedicated leadership—and that is what Mayor Thomas has provided in her tireless fight for the historic city she loves,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Mayor Thomas deserves our praise for her passion for preservation and for her determination to help the people of Galveston preserve the places that matter to them.”