Layland Museum curator Julie Baker asked the City Council Tuesday night during the workshop session to consider hiring a preservation architect to prepare a master plan for the Carnegie Library Building and the Smith History Center.

She said the firm would identify and assess physical conditions of the exterior and interior of each structure and make recommendations for appropriate rehabilitation and the associated costs.

Baker said three firms were contacted concerning the project and only ArchiTexas of Dallas submitted a proposal.

ArchiTexas of Dallas is the firm completing the remodeling on the Johnson County Courthouse, and did the restoration of the Hill County Courthouse in Hillsboro, created a master plan for the Ellis County Courthouse, restoration of the Harrison County Courthouse, and is working on converting the vacant Collin County Courthouse into a multi-purpose community arts facility.

ArchiTexas of Dallas also was involved with the expansion of the Sixth Floor Museum Visitors Center in Dallas with architectural and interior design services through the construction period.

Baker said the museum advisory board has discussed the needs with the firm and recommends them for the project.

The first step in renovating and restoring the two structures is the development of an architectural and preservation master plan. ArchiTexas would create a plan for $28,100 and the money is available from the donations already raised for the renovation project.

The council will consider the request at a future meeting.

Julie Roberts, Smith History Center project chair, said earlier the goals of the center include the creation of a continuous education center, the establishment of a curator of collections center for restoration and a demonstration kitchen for cultural and regional culinary programs.

Presently, there are artifacts donated by more than 500 families located in the existing building and a total of more than 40,000 artifacts from several universities and historical societies.

“The Smith History Center will also be home to a permanent streetside automobile exhibit which commemorates the strength of the automobile industry and ‘Automobile Row’ in Cleburne,” she said.

The SHC building has a rich history and was an integral part of Automobile Row in earlier years. The building housed the Steele Covington Motor Company, Roberts said.

The building was acquired by the Layland Museum through the generosity of the city, Lowell Smith Jr., Tom Hazlewood, Katherine Raines and the museum advisory board, she said.

Lowell Smith Jr., a supporter of the museum, helped to purchase the building to establish a long-term education center for the community. The center will bear the name of Lowell Smith Sr. History Center in honor of his father, Roberts said.

Partners in the project so far are the city, Smith, Hazlewood, Cleburne ISD, First National Bank Burleson, Community Bank, the O.C. Forrest family, the John Sledge family, H-E-B, Howard Dudley and the museum advisory board.

Roberts said the partners are pursuing funding from several sources and have collected $115,000 and are seeking a total of $702,000.

Each center and exhibit in the center will be named for major donors.

Rob Fraser can be reached at 817-645-2441, ext. 2336, or

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