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Fight to Save Texas’ Endangered Historic Buildings Gets an Instagram Ally

How ModTexas Uses Crowdsourcing to Push Preservation

BY // 08.15.19

While neglect and redevelopment are destroying the remarkable modernist architecture in Dallas and Houston at an alarming rate, a new Instagram–based initiative, @ModTexas, is documenting the cities’ mid-20th-century treasures in an effort to save them.

Amy Walton’s brainchild uses social media crowdsourcing to team with preservation groups, such as internationally based Docomomo, to catalog at-risk buildings in the area. The social-media mapping initiative, which launched in January and changes themes each month, relies solely on public involvement.

Mid-century enthusiasts, architects, preservationists, and others have already posted more than 1,900 cellphone shots of favorite modern buildings, design elements, art, and public spaces from their own neighborhoods. Walton records the photos’ geotags and other identifying information in an Excel spreadsheet, which she shares with preservation groups around Texas and anyone who requests it.

If buildings can’t be saved, at least photographs of them can be archived for posterity, she says.

Years of lobbying by preservation groups failed to save the iconic 1963 Salvation Army Building on Harry Hines Boulevard in Dallas, which Walton spent four months photographing before it was recently demolished.

“Instagram engages people and gets more people to pay attention to the important historic modern buildings that are out there,” Walton says. “While there is a benefit to having pictures of these buildings before they disappear, we hope to take it beyond that.

“I hope we can begin to save them.”

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