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First Lady welcomes Victoria to state historical program

By Melissa Crowe
April 11, 2012 at 4:01 p.m.
Updated April 10, 2012 at 11:11 p.m.

The Our Lady of Victory choir sings "Texas, Our Texas" at the dedication ceremony for the Victoria Main Street program.

The relentless wind, blowing south off the Red River through downtown Haskell isn't the first lady's fondest memory of her hometown.

The square and courthouse, the mom and pop businesses, milkshakes and the soda fountain, growing up and forming friendships are what has stuck with her, she said.

From Haskell to Austin, "you can't know where you're going unless you know where you've been," said Texas first lady Anita Perry.

She visited downtown Victoria on Tuesday to welcome the city into the Texas Main Street Program.

"Hometowns reflect a collective memory," she said. "The personal touches, the people and the heart ... and the landmarks along the way."

Her visit was the 42nd stop of the Texas Historical Commission's Texas Main Street Program's annual First Lady's Tour.

Our Lady of Victory Choir, the Victoria school district's Junior ROTC and local and historical leaders participated in the program.

Perry told the crowd of about 200 people that through Victoria's participation in the Main Street Program, they are writing their own history.

"It isn't about the bricks and mortar, it's about the people," she said.

The Main Street Program was founded in 1981. Since then, 84 cities have joined the program, realizing more than $2.4 billion in economic reinvestment, the creation of 27,000 jobs, and the expansion of almost 7,200 businesses, according to a news release from the program.

"That demonstrates what a community can accomplish when they work together for a common cause," Perry said.

Louise Hull-Patillo, chairwoman of the local Main Street Program board of directors, said Tuesday was a "culmination of a dream" many community members have dreamed about for 20 years.

"It's a beginning of a new journey that will involve a lot of hard work and dedication," she said.

Mike Sigg, manager of the local program, said the city is celebrating its past while looking toward its future.

Sheri Krause, chairwoman of the Texas Historical Commission, said Victoria is joining the commission's brand: "Real places telling real stories."

Some of Victoria's historical gems include the courthouse, Saint Mary's Catholic Church, the O'Connor-Proctor Building, the Nave Museum and the Street of 10 Friends, known as Main Street.

"The founder thought of Victoria as a prime candidate for the Main Street Program," Krause said. "It took 30 years, but we are very excited to welcome Victoria to our Main Street Program."

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