Houston First Corporation and John L. Nau, III Announce Plans for The Center for Texas Cultural Heritage, the Region's Tourism and Education Center

HOUSTON, Oct. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Mayor Annise Parker, Houston First Corporation and John L. Nau, III, Chairman of the Board, The Center for Texas Cultural Heritage, are proud to announce the newest vision for downtown Houston, The Center for Texas Cultural Heritage – an educational and inspirational venue where visitors will be invited to explore and experience the history and culture that built and continue to define this city, region and state.

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"The Center for Texas Cultural Heritage will become the flagship for cultural and heritage study, a gateway for heritage tourism, and an essential amenity to attract visitors to southeast Texas," said Mayor Annise Parker. "The Center will immerse visitors in authentic stories of the visionaries and entrepreneurs who built and defined our region – and who perpetuate the living spirit of Texas."

The project will be guided by a Board of Directors to include Jane Barnhill, Fred Burns, Brady Carruth, Tony Chase, Paul Hobby, Laura Murillo, Don Wang, and Dawn R. Ullrich.

Today, Nau announced his personal, lead gift of $8 million, to officially kick off the capital campaign. He will also spearhead the effort to raise $32 million to complete the project. Members of the capital campaign include J.P. Bryan, Tilman Fertitta, Joanie Haley, Nancy Kinder, Sara Morgan, and Phoebe Tudor.

"In its first year of operation, The Center has the potential to create up to $31.4 million in additional tourism revenues, support an additional 2,400 jobs, generate $9.5 million in industry earnings, and increase state and local government revenues by $1.8 million," said Ric Campo, Chairman of the Houston First Corporation board. "We hope Houstonians will embrace this project now and for generations to come."

The Center will introduce visitors to the historic sites and offerings of southeast Texas, which includes the following counties: Austin, Brazoria, Brazos, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, De Witt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jefferson, Lavaca, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Orange, Polk, San Jacinto, Tyler, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Washington, and Wharton. It will highlight historical and archeological treasures in the region such as Johnson Space Center, Galveston Bay, the San Jacinto Monument, Galveston's Historic Strand, Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park, the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, and Spindletop to name a few. For visiting business people, conventioneers, tourists and heritage visitors, The Center will help turn a one-day visit into a multi-day adventure.

"The Center will become the regional centerpiece for cultural exploration, a prize amenity for the city located on the legendary Texas Independence Trail and a compelling destination for everyone in southeast Texas and beyond," said Nau. "The Center will create an emotional connection with the audience, educating them about the region's most celebrated entrepreneurs and inspiring young people to create the next generation of great things."

A Vision ... An Experience Center
The Center will highlight the region's cultural and ethnic diversity, and, through experiential learning, make Texas history real and relevant to students, educators, visitors and emerging entrepreneurs. The experience breaks down into three complementary elements, Gone to Texas, Seize Opportunity and Get Big Things Done.

Gone to Texas is a high-impact, multi-media, multi-sensory special effects show where regional history comes alive to inspire guests and encourage them to pursue their dreams. Legends like the Allen Brothers, M.D. Anderson and Congressman Albert Richard Thomas welcome guests, and present their accomplishments as infrastructure for today's achievers. The message is inclusive, and forward-looking.

Seize Opportunity is a chronological journey through Southeast Texas history, from the first native peoples to today's diverse opportunity seekers. Guests will be welcomed by the Allen Brothers, the region's first entrepreneurial achievers. They'll stand with Sam Houston at Washington-on-the-Brazos as Texas becomes a Republic, at San Jacinto as Texas wins its independence, and as Texas becomes a state. They'll feel the earth shake and the sky darken as Spindletop erupts, beginning the transformation of Southeast Texas into the Energy Capital of the World. They'll discover how the philosophy of "Houston Gives Back" produced the world's largest medical center. The Port, the Space Center, the peaceful integration of Houston lunch counters, the welcoming of diverse groups of opportunity seekers – all these Southeast Texas accomplishments and more are a part of this remarkable story. The story will be told in a vivid series of immersive scenes, galleries, exhibits, Focus Rooms and interactive learning.

Get Big Things Done is a free-flow adventure inspired by the optimistic, energetic approach of a World Exposition. This experience is anchored by three immersive presentations – Johnson Space Center Mission Control, "Where 17 Railroads Meet the Sea" and "A Port That Welcomes the World." All three bring the region's greatest achievements alive with extraordinary theatrical presentations that are supported by interactive learning stations. These stations invite guests to discover the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math involved in each endeavor.

The other major component of Get Big Things Done is a series of interactive flexible story galleries featuring a series of guest-friendly learning stations, each dedicated to a specific aspect of the region. These include Energy, Education, Arts, Music, Medicine, Houston at Play, and Diverse Neighborhoods.

The Center will be comprised of a multi-story, approximately 60,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. It will include the only two remaining structures from Houston's original Quality Hill neighborhood —The Foley and Cohn homes. It will be located between the George R. Brown Convention Center, Discovery Green and Minute Maid Park, on the block bordered by Texas Avenue, Capitol Street, Hamilton Street and Avenida de las Americas. The project is expected to break ground in late 2013.

At the conclusion of the press event, in recognition of John Nau's significant gift, Mayor Annise Parker officially renamed the project the Nau Center for Texas Cultural Heritage.

The Center for Texas Cultural Heritage
The Board of Directors of The Center for Texas Cultural Heritage, a diverse group with deep connections across the region, drives the vision and mission of the institution, serves as the organization's advocates and ambassadors to the community and will oversee programming.

Houston First Corporation
Houston First Corporation manages more than 10 of the city's most iconic buildings, plazas and underground and surface parking. These facilities include the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel, the George R. Brown Convention Center, Jones Hall, Wortham Theater Center, Houston Center for the Arts, Talento Bilingue de Houston, Jones Plaza, Miller Outdoor Theatre as well as additional smaller venues. Houston First is responsible for the day-to-day maintenance and operations of these properties, producing conventions, trade shows and theatrical performances with clients.

SOURCE Houston First Corporation