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Saving a Hamlet of Small-Town Texas History: This Vital Festival is Anything But Just an Ordinary Night in the Country

BY // 08.13.18

The late Houston decorative arts doyenne Miss Ima Hogg (1882-1975) is known for her showplace legacy — the beautiful and important Bayou Bend, the MFAH’s decorative house museum for historical American furnishings.

Few know the other preservation project near and dear to this fiercely independent benefactress, who was ahead of her time in issues of culture — including founding the Houston Symphony — serving on the school board, and raising awareness of mental health.

Beyond her John Staub-designed mansion, part of Miss Ima’s heart was devoted to a small Texas hamlet; without her intervention there in the early 1960s, it would have become a ghost town, left to decay and crumble.

That place is Winedale, Texas — also home of an acclaimed Shakespeare festival — four miles from Round Top.

Certainly, its story of prosperous German immigrant families and the craftsmen they commissioned to embellish their home with unique artisan flourishes, might have been lost forever.

Bequeathed some 50 years ago by Miss Hogg to the University of Texas Briscoe Center for American History, the Winedale Historical Center, despite being part of the UT umbrella, relies upon an important nonprofit established by leading families in the area.

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Many of the board member of the Friends of Winedale had parents who personally knew Miss Hogg and wished to come together to provide supplemental funding to keep its charming collection of important German-immigrant historical homes and buildings mindfully preserved — including its corresponding collections of furniture, textiles and tools.

“I’m very excited about what we have been able to do,” Friends of Winedale past president Ginny Elverson Welch tells PaperCity.

Welch, whose late mother and father, Virginia and Robin Elverson, were close friend of Miss Hogg, remembers the great collector as a regular around the Elverson dinner table for special occasions. Additionally, Welch’s great aunt had done a grand European tour to Berlin, back in the day with Miss Ima, spun around classical music.

Welch is set to co-chair an important fund-raising evening, which bows to the German heritage of Winedale, while also interjecting a bit of Beatle-mania, complete with a Beatles tribute band, The Eggman.

Titled Sommerabend Fest, it takes place Saturday, August 25, in the sylvan setting surrounding and inside Henkel Hall, amid Henkel Square, Round Top. The night follows upon a successful fund-raiser in 2015, which yielded $250,000 for the historic property.

And there’s a special foodie component: Cinda and Armando Palacios are presiding over the seated benefit dinner including curating specialty cocktails and beverages for Sommerabend. Their executive chef, Gino Llanes, will craft a custom menu — a unique collaboration between the Palacioses’ recently unveiled Round Top restaurants, Lulu’s and Mandito’s, featuring Tex-Mex and Italian offerings.

Welch confirms the goal this year is to top 2015 — she and fellow co-chairs Linda Plant and Jim Wagner — are setting their sights on $300,000. Sommerabend Fest salutes honorary chairmen, designer Beverly Jacomini and husband, Tommy Jacomini, long-time residents of Round Top, as well as Houston.

The party has become known also for its attire: guests are enjoined to wear their best summer whites. Details below for what promises to the Texas’ finest gala in the country — all thanks to a little help from Miss Ima’s friends.

What: Winedale Sommerabend Fest

When: Saturday, August 25, 5:30 pm

Where: Henkel Hall, Henkel Square, Round Top

Who: Co-chairs Linda Plant, Jim Wagner, Ginny Elverson Welch; honorary chairmen Beverly and Tommy Jacomini

Note: Festive fundraiser benefitting the Winedale Historical Center; cocktail reception under the oaks of Henkel Hall; silent and live auctions; seated dinner catered by Lulu’s; live Beatles-inspired music by The Eggmen; attire summer white; media sponsor PaperCity

Tariff: Tickets $175, tables $2,000, sponsorships from $2,500

Contact: Ginny Elverson Welch, 512.413.3588; friendsofwinedale@gmail.com. Additional info about Winedale’s unique history, its restored homes and cabins, here

Find updated auction details including packages boasting unique and lavish travel experiences here.

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