“This is a really good ordinance, especially for the Katy Heritage Park,” Robertson said. “This doesn't take away any of the safety mechanisms that we are using for these houses—but it does keep them historically accurate. That's what we're shooting for."
The ordinance was passed with the support of the Katy Heritage Society, a nonprofit with the mission of furthering the educational and cultural development of the community in Katy and adjacent areas through preservation, restoration and the display of historical landmarks, natural beauty, documents, and other local objects.
Katy Heritage Park is located at 5990 George Bush Drive, Katy, and consists of five historic Katy structures that have existed for more than a century. The homes are decorated with period-appropriate historical items.
“That's all this is—to make sure that we can keep these houses looking great—looking like they looked back in the 1900s,” Robertson said.
Council Member Janet Corte said she thinks being able to maintain the historical integrity of the buildings is very important, adding that preserving history gives younger generations a glimpse into how things in Katy used to be.
Adrienne Davitz, a member of the Katy Heritage Society, said this ordinance should safeguard the city’s historic, aesthetic and cultural heritage by preserving the park for its original intent. Davitz cited hurdles the group had faced in the past with other local restorations which lacked similar ordinances.
“Our most pressing example is the mess hall from the Humble gas plant,” Davitz said. “It has been sitting untouched for many years for several reasons—but one of those reasons [is that the] current building code would drastically change the look of the entire building and it would lose much of its historical integrity.”
The Katy Heritage Society has spent countless hours planning for that building to be restored, Davitz said. Ultimately, the nonprofit did not go through with the plan because the drastic changes needed did not align with the society’s mission.
“With this ordinance, the Katy Heritage Society can move forward with that restoration project,” Davitz said. “We now will not have major building modifications simply because a new code states door openings have to be a certain width, or a window has to be a certain height off the ground.”