Lynna Kay Shuffield, from the Texas Star Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT), is a researcher of Texas genealogy and military history and was going through old newspaper records when she discovered an incomplete part of Houston art history. The 1939 Houston Press article reported that plans for two statues of the city’s founders, John Kirby Allen and Augustus Chapman Allen, would have to be scrapped due to lack of funds. City Hall architect Joseph Finger, responsible for a number of Houston Art Deco landmarks, had originally planned to place the statues at the front terrace of the building.
As Shuffield explained to the Houston Chronicle: “The city ran out of money in the Great Depression, so they didn’t have the $8,000 needed to build the statues at the time. And by World War II, the materials needed to be used to build the statues were needed for the war effort.” Now the DRT is raising funds (and bronze donations) to realize Finger’s intentions. The group has already picked Lori Betz with the Betz Foundry to create the statues.
They estimate that the cost to create the statues today will be $100,000 and they have already raised $25,000. But the Mayor’s Assistant for Cultural Affairs told the Chronicle that this is merely the beginning of the process. First, the city would need to authenticate the plans, which would have to go through the Houston Arts Alliance for its recommendation, and final approval would be needed from the City Council. The DRT would also need to pay 10% of the value of the statues (for a conservation fund) in order for the city to accept them.