Marathon, Texas, Historic Resources Survey

The original Marathon townsite, platted in 1886

The Latest News

November 10, 2021

Thanks to everyone in Marathon for making us feel welcome during the historic resources survey fieldwork! Special thanks to Phoebe and the folks at the Oasis Cafe, Danny at the Marathon Motel, the terrific baristas at French Grocery, and the outstanding cookie baker who made treats for our community meeting! We also had a productive meeting with County Judge Eleazar Cano and a tour of the restored Brewster County courtroom — thanks, Your Honor!

We have started processing the data we collected, which includes information about all of the properties in town and nearly 650 photographs. Our next steps include renaming every photo, analyzing all of that data, and making preliminary maps that show if/where a historic district’s boundaries might be, as well as buildings that could be individually eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Finally, we will be producing a recorded presentation about historic resource surveys and the National Register and posting it here sometime in the next week.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Steph McDougal or call us at 833-623-7737.

October 10, 2021
McDoux Preservation LLC will be in Marathon, Texas, from October 19–21, 2021, to document and take photographs of properties throughout the town, including both the original town site (shown above) and its additions. Residents are invited to drop in for a community open house between 6:00-8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 20, to learn more about the project.

Click on these links to open the press release, open house flyer, and open house handout in English.

You can download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader here.

Las versiones en espanol: Casa Abierta Flyer (el poster) y Handout (los datos).

About This Project

McDoux Preservation LLC has been hired to conduct a historic resources survey of the entire town of Marathon, Texas. McDoux owner Steph McDougal and her team of three other architectural historians have been researching the history of Marathon and how it developed since the original townsite was first laid out in 1886. The McDoux team will be in Marathon in October 2021 to conduct fieldwork and meet with the community. The survey project is expected to be complete in early 2022.

McDoux previously completed a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places for the Gage Hotel in Marathon, and Gage Hotel owner J.P. Bryan subsequently engaged McDoux to conduct this survey . Steph McDougal, an experienced and award-winning historic preservation consultant, is in charge of the project and all data analysis, findings, and recommendations.

What is a Historic Resources Survey?

Historic resources surveys are a very specific type of data collection effort. A “survey” is an examination or a description of something. Metes-and-bounds surveys collect data that can be used to describe the boundaries of a piece of land, and opinion surveys collect data in order to examine what people think about a specific topic. Historic resources surveys examine, collect data about, and then describe the buildings, structures, objects, and sites in a particular area.

In the field of historic preservation, architectural historians use these surveys to identify historic resources. (That’s a catch-all term that includes buildings, structures, objects, sites, and districts.) We collect data and photographs of each resource, create maps, and determine whether any resources are individually eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and whether any resources might be combined into a National Register historic district. Then we produce a report of our findings and recommendations.

Since the 1970s, many cities and towns in Texas have been documented with historic resources surveys . As a result, we have “snapshots” of those places at specific points in time. For example, photos of some buildings in Marathon taken in 1978, 1984, and 2019 are available on the Portal to Texas History website. Early surveys often only collected photos of and information about obviously historic buildings. Today, best practices have changed, and architectural historians document everything to form a complete picture about a community or neighborhood.

After the McDoux team has completed our work, Steph McDougal will hold another community meeting in Marathon to share our findings and recommendations and gather feedback.

This map shows the area to be included in the historic resources survey.

What is the National Register of Historic Places?

The National Register of Historic Places is a list of the most historically and architecturally significant places in the United States. A listing on the National Register is honorary; it does not restrict property owners in any way or affect their property rights. Listing on the National Register does provide financial benefits for some properties, through the state and federal historic tax credit programs, Texas state sales tax exemptions, and eligibility for federal, state, and (in some cases) local grants. For more information, visit:

Many cities in Texas have local historic preservation programs, which do include regulations that apply to people who own a locally designated historic landmark or property in a locally designated historic district. Local historic designations are usually accomplished through a zoning overlay. None of that applies to Marathon.

You can see all the historic resources listed on the National Register in Brewster County (or other places) by visiting the Texas Historical Commission’s Historic Sites Atlas database.