History & Mission
Ten visionary individuals met in 1961 with the idea of preserving the unique culture, tradition, and heritage of Columbus. Out of this small beginning grew the Magnolia Homes Tour, Inc., a nonprofit organization supported by donations from the citizens of Columbus as well as individuals who had an interest in preserving Texas history and historical landmarks.
The Magnolia Homes Tour’s primary fundraising event was a spring festival held on the third weekend in May, when the magnolia trees around the Courthouse Square were in full bloom. The event grew and attracted thousands of visitors from across the state. The Homes Tour worked hand in hand with the Live Oak Art Center to showcase local artists’ works on the Square for guests to view and purchase. Guests could also enjoy food, live entertainment, an antiques show, and of course, visiting the historic homes and properties around Columbus.
In 1970 Magnolia Homes Tour, Inc. purchased the Stafford Opera House, which at the time was the local Ford dealership. The group felt it was important to renovate the Opera House to bring it back to its original purpose of being a usable space for community events and celebrations. It was a lengthy and very costly undertaking. The organization received grants and funding from many community supporters over the renovation period but due to the overall cost of the project, the upstairs portion of the Opera House was not reopened to the public until 1990.
In August of 1999, the Magnolia Homes Tour, Inc. became the Columbus Historical Preservation Trust, Inc. CHPT handed responsibility of the spring festival over to the Columbus Chamber of Commerce so it could concentrate its focus on the renovations and upkeep of the historical properties it owned. CHPT also spends a great deal of time sharing the history of Columbus with guests when they visit town.
Aside from preserving the town’s history and historical importance in the state of Texas, CHPT is dedicated to building a stronger community by hosting fun events and unique learning opportunities. We hope to build a stronger tomorrow by remembering the significance of our past.
The mission of CHPT is to maintain, preserve, and present historic sites in Columbus for the appreciation and education of the public; stimulate interest and enhance understanding for the heritage of Columbus; present cultural events that further the purpose of the organization; encourage tourism in Columbus; and promote volunteerism that furthers the purpose of the organization.
JO HELEN VENGLAR
Magnolia Belle Director