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HASM re-imagines its mission to better meet the needs of the community

In 2012, the gazebo was restored to enhance Veramendi Plaza Park for community events. The Heritage Association of San Marcos donated $30,000 to fund it with an additional pledge of $5,000.
Photo submitted by HASM

HASM re-imagines its mission to better meet the needs of the community

Sunday, March 5, 2023

During the pandemic, everyone experienced change that forced organizations to think creatively about longterm solutions rather than short-term fixes. The Heritage Association of San Marcos has been re-imagining its organization over the last two years to clearly define its structure to better contribute to the community moving forward.

The Heritage Association of San Marcos is a nonprofit organization chartered in 1975 to support the preservation of buildings, historic sites and archives and to perpetuate traditions that beautify and enrich the community life of this city. The association grew out of the San Marcos Bicentennial Commission, which was formed in 1972 to plan and coordinate the city’s celebration of the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976. San Marcos was one of the first seven cities in the country to receive the National Bicentennial City designation.

Preservation efforts have included Veramendi Plaza Park since 1972 when the Federal Urban Renewal Agency transferred this undeveloped area to the City Bicentennial Commission, which soon became the Heritage Association. Thus began the drive to protect and preserve these three acres as the historic centerpiece of the town.

In 1986, the Imperial Bronzelight Corporation, in observance of the Texas Sesquicentennial, completely rebuilt the fountain at a cost of $10,000. In addition, Bronzelight and private donors provided the installation of long-delayed lights for greater security along the Riverwalk in 1993. In 2006, the fountain was named for Dr. Gwen K. Smith. Through a gift from Dr. Smith’s Estate in 2011, the fountain was rebuilt a second time and improvements were made to the area around the fountain, including new plumbing and electrical systems. All work was done under the supervision of the City Parks and Recreation Department and the Heritage Riverwalk Committee. A well-house nearby shelters the controls to the fountain’s motor which uses recycled water.

The Riverwalk Memorial Grove located in the southeast portion of the park toward the river has more than 50 trees with bronze plaques at their base dedicated to distinguished persons in our community. These trees and plaques have been the work of the Heritage Riverwalk Committee for many years. Midway along the path behind the Gazebo that leads to the river is the large, well-weathered original plaque installed in 1976. This plaque lists the names of all the people and organizations that joined together in a demonstration of unity to protect this landscape so cherished today.

In upholding the association’s agreement with the city and its mission statement, HASM paid $7,000 to restore the walls of the historic Merriman Cabin in 2020. Although the city owns the building, HASM funded this restoration to preserve this historical site. Now in 2023, HASM will embark on the restoration of another iconic landmark, the Charles S. Cock House, built in 1867. In April of 1976, through the leadership of the Heritage Guild, the Heritage Association began offering Cottage Kitchen luncheons on selected Fridays at the Cock House.

Changing times have hindered the association’s ability to continue the Friday luncheons, but new opportunities allow HASM to provide events for San Marcos. Although the Cock House is owned by the city, HASM have been stewards of the site since 1976. The restoration will be done in phases and association members are currently reviewing the scope of work with the city.

Change is never easy; however, it is a constant force that dramatically shifts priorities. Therefore, the Heritage Association of San Marcos is evaluating programs to best serve the community. In reviewing the mission statement, HASM aima to include future goals, new services and an expanded vision for the association to benefit San Marcos further.

What helps nonprofits survive during times of crisis are authentic and deep relationships with trusted partners. As the organization re-imagines and rebuilds, the members of HASM hope to cultivate those relationships. Programs must “deliver” based on the needs of the community and best serve its sponsors. In a nonprofit world, those paying for services are generally not the same as those receiving them. Therefore, HASM must enhance the understanding and appreciation of these groups moving forward.

Every challenge is an opportunity, and obstacles are not barriers in our path. Embracing change makes it easier to move through a challenge with grace and confidence. The history of the Heritage Association of San Marcos has proven that the organization will emerge on the other side of these challenging times in a stronger place.

The Heritage Association of San Marcos welcomes the interest and involvement of community members. To join online, visit heritagesanmarcos. org and click JOIN.

Financial support through membership and donations keeps the collective fervor of the association going. The website shares photos, events, history and many stories about the vision that has driven Heritage since its founding in 1975.

One of the great successes in re-imagining the organization is its Second Annual Easter Egg Hunt. Planning is well underway as members are busy stuffing 5,000 eggs with raffle tickets and candy, and gathering prizes for the raffle. The inaugural event last year was attended by 300 children and their families.

The second annual Easter Egg Hunt hosted by the Heritage Association of San Marcos will take place in Veramendi Plaza Park on Saturday, April 8 from 11 a.m. 1 p.m. Children ages 2-12 can participate in the hunt. Children of all ages are welcome to participate in arts and crafts, cottontail games, face painting, a giant tortoise, a costumed bunny for photo ops and much more. Please register in advance on at This event is free and open to the public.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666