Houston, TX (BlackNews.com) - The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum recently kicked off its "Leave-A-Legacy...Buy-a-Brick" project to help with the renovations of the historic Houston Light Guard Armory. $4.1 million is the total cost to secure the future of this museum - the only one of its kind in the country that is solely dedicated to preserving the rich legacy and historic history of the African American soldier throughout history.
After funding by the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation for $500,000 and $500,000 received from Houston Endowment, the property was purchased by the museum, and architectural and engineering work was completed. In addition, the museum has received cash and pledges totaling $475,000 from Marathon Oil, Chevron Oil, Wells Fargo Bank; CenterPoint Energy, and The Brown Foundation. In-kind contributions totaled over $75,000 from Comcast, Continental Airlines, and members of the African American Press in Greater Houston. Due to the historic preservation nature of this "green" project, the National Trust for Historic Preservation gave the initial $4,000 to help with design work, completed by RDC Architects, a LEEDs-trained team. LEEDs stands for the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Captain Paul J. Matthews, Founder & Chairman of the museum, has been researching military history and collecting military artifacts and memorabilia for over 30 years prior to his founding of the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum. This is the only museum that chronicles the entire African American military experience from the Revolutionary War to the Persian Gulf War. Currently, more than 60 % of the museum's collection and exhibits have been donated from his private collection. "This is the single most important military preservation project in the State of Texas!" states Captain Paul J. Matthews, concerning saving the historic Houston Light Guard Armory using "green" building principles.
Who are the Buffalo Soldiers? Since the colonial days, African Americans have proudly served in the military. During the Civil War, about 180,000 black soldiers served in the Union Army; more than 33,000 died. The Buffalo Solders were African-Americans of the U.S. Army's 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments. In Texas, their contributions were especially significant during the Indian Wars of the late 1800s, when approximately 20 percent of the U.S. Cavalry involved was African American. It is speculated that these soldiers; curly hair resembled that of the American Indians' sacred buffalo mane, while their bravery and tenaciousness reflected the buffalo's spirit, hence inspiring the natives to call them "Buffalo Soldiers." Over time, Buffalo Soldier became a general term for all African-American soldiers from 1866 to World War II.
The "Leave A Legacy...Buy-a-Brick" project will allow everyone to have a part in restoring and renovating this facility. An engraved brick will be placed in the outdoor Soldiers Plaza for those joining this project. Granite bricks are only $1,000 each; crimson bricks are only $500 each; and standard bricks are $100 each. Donors may order as many bricks as they would like in order to leave a legacy for future generations. Such a legacy will honor a veteran, or several veterans, of the donor. Or, the donor may wish to honor another loved one, their own family, or leave one or more bricks in the name of one's company, church, corporation, business, organization, club, fraternity, or sorority.
Upon completion, the Houston Light Guard Armory will add to the dynamic improvements being made by Midtown Management District, Houston Community College - Central, and others in the community. When open to the public in early 2010, this historic facility will share the rich architectural heritage of the armory, and portray the cultural diversity of both the Houston Light Guard Veteran's Association and the Buffalo Soldiers. Visitors throughout Texas and across America will view a strong commitment to historic preservation, initially made possible by a small grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation "Preservation Fund", and then supported by many groups from Texas and beyond. All of the support received from the "Leave A Legacy...Buy A Brick" project will yield an abundance of character and an authentic sense of place, because people cared enough to save an historic armory with history dating back to 1873, and connected to the Civil War-era.
Those interested in the "Leave A Legacy...Buy A Brick" project, or other naming rights to museum space, giving to honor a member of their family, contributing to the "Wall of Fame," or helping the museum in its fund-raising efforts are encouraged to contact Cherri Washington, Executive Director, 713-942-8920. Tracye McDaniel, Executive Vice President and COO of the Greater Houston Partnership serve as the chair of the museum's building capital campaign.
The current museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1834 Southmore Blvd, Houston TX 77004.