Butler (left) shows Fort Bend County Historical Commission member Cindy Drabek the vestiges of long-ago store occupant Donley's Cleaners signage uncovered during recent restoration work. The building is in the 800 block of Third Street in Rosenberg. Photo Courtesy of David G. Rose.
Rosenberg restaurateur and civic leader Renee Butler has been chosen as the recipient of the 2018 Bert E. Bleil Heritage Award.
The award is presented annually by the Fort Bend County Historical Commission to an individual or organization for outstanding efforts in the preservation and promotion of local history and culture. It is named in honor of its late creator, a former chair of the commission.
Current FBCHC Chairman Charles Kelly announced the selection of Butler "as the latest in a distinguished line of recipients." The award presentation will take place at the Safari Texas Ranch in Richmond on the evening of Thursday, March 1.
She saw to a remodeling of her building that essentially Butler, a third-generation Rosenberg resident, began Another Time Soda Fountain 15 years ago. She has managed her restaurant and catering business for most of those years in its current location at the corner of Avenue F and Third Street in Rosenberg.
restored it to its 1910 appearance. This resulted in Butler receiving the Best Interior Design award for remodeling at the 2006 Texas Downtown Association convention
In 2003, Butler was the acting chair of a new community event, a fundraising gala for the Rosenberg Railroad Museum that became an annual affair. She also served on the railroad museum board for two years, one of those as treasurer.
She helped to establish the Historic Downtown Rosenberg Division of the Central Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce and served as chair of the group. This division helps preserve the historic values of downtown.
Butler played roles in the creation of other entities that help preserve the local history and culture. Chief among these is the Rosenberg Main Street Program, awarded to the city after she helped write the successful application. Butler and city employee Rachelle Kanak spent months researching to complete the process. After the program was awarded, Butler attended Main Street training and helped to set up the Rosenberg program. She then served as board chair.
She was a key figure in gathering community support for a successful application to the Texas Commission on the Arts to create a cultural arts district in downtown Rosenberg. Butler then helped to establish the Rosenberg Arts Alliance, a nonprofit that supports the district, which holds events to promote the arts. Butler is a past president of the alliance.
In 2015, publication of the book "Historic Downtown Rosenberg" capped Butler's most ambitious history project to date. The Rosenberg Historians group was started, Butler said, because several regular customers at the restaurant would recall the histories of various downtown commercial buildings and shops. Her father, the late Larry Barcak, told her to preserve that information and the group was formed.
Participants met monthly at first to share and write down what each building contained from construction to present. After three years, Arcadia Publishing approached the group about producing a book on downtown Rosenberg.
For the next two years the Rosenberg Historians met every week and researched. "During that time we lost some of the historians," Butler said, "so this book was truly a labor of love and will always have a special place in the hearts of the Rosenberg Historians."