Jeff Campbell, executive director of the Plano Conservancy for Historic Preservation, recently received a 2019 Preservation Texas Honor Award due to his role in the restoration of L. A. Davis Cemetery in Downtown Plano. The 2019 Honor Awards were selected by a jury of preservationists to recognize successful efforts to save irreplaceable and authentic historic places in Texas.
L. A. Davis Cemetery is an historic African-American cemetery named after Lee Andrew Davis. Marcellus Davis, his grandson, nominated Jeff for this award after working alongside Jeff for the past three years to preserve the cemetery as part of Plano’s multicultural heritage.
L.A. Davis moved to Plano as a young man in 1910. Over the years he would become a prominent leader in the Douglass Community, Plano’s historically African-American neighborhood. Racial discrimination of the time made it very difficult for African-Americans to acquire property. After purchasing farmland in 1945, L.A. Davis designated an acre of his land for local African-American residents to bury their loved ones.
During this time period, strict Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation. In fact, the segregation was so heightened that a fence was built between the L.A. Davis Cemetery and the Old Plano City Cemetery that was reserved for white residents. This fence served as a silent reminder of the historic color lines that separated Plano residents and was not removed until 2016.
Jeff and his team at the Plano Conservancy for Historic Preservation received grant money in 2016 from the City of Plano to begin a restoration project for L. A. Davis Cemetery. The project involved removing the fence that separated the two cemeteries, adding a new fence encircling both cemeteries, leveling headstones, cleaning up the grounds and adding a sign displaying the history of the cemetery.
In his award nomination, Marcellus stated his gratitude to Jeff Campbell and the Plano Conservancy for their work, saying that the restoration has given him “the distinct honor of sharing a bit of my family’s history with men, women and children who would not have known about this piece of Plano’s rich history.”Plano Conservancy >
The Davis Cemetery is located in Downtown Plano. The cemetery lies adjacent to the Old Plano City Cemetery. From 15th Street take H Avenue south. Both cemeteries will be located on the left.