HART, KATHERINE DRAKE (1905~2000) Katherine Drake Hart was born on June 11, 1905, in Austin, Travis County, Texas to Maggie Myrick Drake and William Sherman Drake. Mr. Drake, along with his brother, founded the lumber company that later become Calcasieu. After her junior year at the Whitis School, Miss Drake attended the University of Texas for one year before enrolling at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. In 1926, she graduated from Wellesley with a triple major in English Literature, English Composition and French. As a member of Phi Beta Kappa, she won a scholarship to study in Lyon, France, for a year. In 1927, she received her M. A. in French Literature from Columbia University.
In 1929, Miss Drake married fellow Austinite, James P. Hart. After the birth of their first child, Mrs. Hart enrolled in the University of Texas at Austin to work on a doctorate degree in French Literature. Due to her growing family, Mrs. Hart, who was able to only take a couple of courses a year, received her Ph.D. in 1955.
Dr. Hart, who got a late start on her career, greatly contributed to the city in which she was born and loved. From 1965 to 1975, she served as the director of the Austin-Travis County Collection (now the Austin History Center), which she also helped found. She also oversaw the publication of many books, which she edited and annotated, two of which are Pease Porridge Hot, and Alphonse in Austin. Dr. Hart wrote a weekly column for the Austin American-Statesman called the Waterloo Scrapbook, founded the Heritage Society of Austin guild, served on boards of numerous historical preservation societies and committees, helped write the City of Austin's historical zoning ordinance, served as the president of the Heritage Society of Austin, gave countless speeches and slide presentations about historical preservation societies and committees, reviewed books for the Austin American-Statesman, lobbied city, county, and state officials on behalf of historical preservation, appeared regularly on TV talk shows promoting preservation, and was honored for her work by the Heritage Society of Austin, Women in Communication, and the Austin Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Many of the historic buildings in Austin, including the Old Bakery Building and the Littlefield Home are still standing today as a result of Dr. Hart's efforts. Her tireless work on behalf of preservation spawned a statewide enthusiasm for saving historic buildings that continues today.
Dr. Hart's interests went far beyond preservation of her hometown; she served on the Wellesley College Board of Trustees and later founded the Austin Wellesley Club. She served on the Austin School Board and worked to integrate Austin schools. In 1956, Governor Price Daniel appointed Dr. Hart to the State Board of Education.
When asked about her passions and amazing achievements, Dr. Hart would reply, "I was just having fun."
Dr. Hart, age 95, died at her home in Austin on November 8, 2000, and was buried in the Texas State Cemetery three days later.
Information taken from obituary, Austin American-Statesman, Friday, November 10, 2000 and article "Hart helped save Austin landmarks," Friday, November 10, 2000.