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The Art of Preservation: Keeping Frisco's History Alive

By Kelly Church

Dedicated to "saving Frisco's history," the Heritage Association of Frisco, Inc. is determined to keeping the Texas town's history alive during this period of huge population growth for the area. In 1902 Frisco was founded as a small railroad and farming town and remained so up until the last two decades that has shown a boom in population. In 1990, the town was made of about 5,000 residents. Now, 150,000 people live and work in Frisco. Recognizing that a growth in population leads to building and new businesses distancing the city from its origins even further, the Heritage Association was founded to protect the area's history.

"We wondered what would be left of Frisco's history since it had been declared the fastest growing city in Texas," says Linda Sutton, founding member of the Heritage Association.

The organization gathers information about the city's history from legitimate sources and preserves historical pieces that are displayed in the Heritage Center and Museum, which opened in 2008. The museum tells the story of key points in the city's history, including the Shawnee Trail which was one of the first cattle trails in the state and an ancient hunting trail for Native Americans. During a tour of the museum, guests learn about the Shawnee Trail, now called the Preston Trail, its original inhabitants and everything that happened after they moved out and the railroad moved in.

"A tour of the Frisco Heritage Center includes the Frisco Heritage Museum as the centerpiece of the center, along with two large farm houses what have been moved to the site, a church, log cabin, and replicas of a one-room school house, the Frisco train Depot, the city's first jail and Gaby's blacksmith shop," says Jane Whitledge, Community Relations Specialist for the Heritage Association. "A steam engine and Frisco caboose are also located at the site. Cotton plants, farm tools and native Texas plants may be seen throughout the center."

The Heritage Association is responsible for the restoration of many historical buildings, including the aforementioned train depot, school house and blacksmith shop. Other buildings include an old Lebanon Baptist Church, which was moved from its original location and brought to the center for restoration and to stay. It is now a popular location for Frisco weddings. The historic Crozier-Sickles House is a late 1800s family home that was lived in for more than 100 years before being sold to the city of Frisco for restoration in the early 2000s and still houses family photos, furniture and old letters.

"As people move to Frisco from all over the world, the founding families of Frisco and those devoted to history believe it is important to explain how the community formed and grew," says Whitledge. "The changes that have come to Frisco have come quickly. People live in houses on land that was still being farmed just a decade ago. But it is not just the history of Frisco that our docents share with tours, it is the history of the United States, migration of people, of technological changes, economic shifts, and how this city has worked to keep a sense of community alive and well amid tremendous growth."

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