Southlake is recognized for numerous things today, but few know its history. Surprising to many, the community existed long before Southlake Town Square “put it on the map.” The city’s roots, its landmarks and the people who lived here can now be easily traced via a new website launched in February by the Southlake Historical Society: www.southlakehistory.org.
With its tagline “Preserve the Tradition” prominently displayed on each page, the website features a clean, visually-appealing design complemented by more than 200 black-and-white and color images. The site is divided into seven primary categories, making it easy to find information. The organization’s mission, goals and significant accomplishments are listed in the About Us section. The History section encompasses a broad range of related topics from the Civil War and Bonnie and Clyde to Lake Grapevine and DFW Airport. The History Tour features an interactive map with 24 significant landmarks that can be clicked to learn more. A section dedicated to the 10 historical markers throughout the city, Log House in Bicentennial Park, and original Carroll School building provides great insight into the early years of Southlake. The Tell Us Your Story section allows people to contribute their own recollections and comments about Southlake’s history. A commemorative ornament, note cards and a book are available for purchase in the General Store section.
One of the most unique aspects of the website is the chronological timeline, which dates back to the 1800s and outlines significant events, accompanied by photographs, to the present day.
According to Anita Robeson, president and Connie Cooley, vice-president of the Southlake Historical Society the most challenging part of putting together the new site was sifting through the enormous amount of information and photographs.
“We wanted it to be a place that anyone could visit to find as much or as little information as needed about Southlake’s place in Texas history,” states Cooley. “Once the design of the website was agreed upon, we began the task of putting onto the site all the narrative we had researched and written over the years accompanied by the more than 200 photos that required organization and captioning.”
Another important factor in the website design was that it be inviting and engaging to every visitor, no matter what age.
“Our challenge continues to be the lively updating of the site to make sure it presents Southlake’s history in an accurate, comprehensive and interesting way,” explains Robeson. “With so many newcomers to Southlake, and the fact that everyone is so busy and may not have time to attend our meetings or programs, the challenge is to make the history easily accessible. Knowing the community history helps residents feel more at home here and have a sense of place.”
Robeson and her team submitted the website to the American Association for State and Local History for its “Leadership in History Award of Merit” that recognizes excellence for multimedia projects (DVD, CD, websites, podcasts, audio, etc.) across the country. One of the requirements included several critical letters of review by “disinterested professionals,” one of whom is Andrew Torget, assistant professor with the University of North Texas Department of History who wrote, “Having spent the last ten years building and creating various sites focused on digital scholarship and digital history, I can say with confidence that the Southlake site is easily the finest I have seen from a local historical society. It is immersive and engaging, mixing visual and textual in a way that draws the user in and takes full advantage of the digital medium to great effect.”
For more information about the Southlake Historical Society, go to www.SouthlakeHistory.org.