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Central Library Plaza to be renamed for Barbara Bush

Literacy Plaza will honor former first lady

HOUSTONThe Central Library Plaza will be named Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza in honor of the former first lady, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday.

He also announced the kickoff of a fundraising campaign that hopes to raise $5.5 million. The money would be used to pay for the plaza’s renovation, according to a news release from the office of the mayor.

"This will elevate the importance of literacy and serve as a reminder of what one person can do with a lifetime of commitment to a cause," Turner said in the written statement. "Barbara Bush has dedicated her life to public service, and after leaving the White House in 1989, she focused on her passion for literacy.”

Right now, the Library Plaza is the gateway to the Central Library and the Julia Ideson Building. 

More than 650,000 library users pass through the plaza, and hundreds of thousands visit the site during downtown events, such as charity walks, parades, festivals, outdoor exhibitions and city occasions, officials said. 

The city didn’t ask to be compensated for the honor, but still, Neil Bush has announced a $500,000 donation to the project from his parents, President H. W. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush.

"My mother has championed the cause of literacy for much of her philanthropic life,” Neil Bush said in the news release. “The entire Bush family is deeply grateful to the leaders of Houston for honoring and preserving her legacy in such a special way through the Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza."

Two other donors have announced $500,000 gifts: Phillips 66 and the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation.

The announcement kicked off the second and final phase of the plaza’s reconstruction. 

The $5.5 million campaign will turn the plaza into a space that extends the library’s mission into the outdoors. The construction will create two reading gardens, one for children and another for adults, a café bistro with seating under trees, a jumbo viewing screen for public movies and other visual events, and an art lawn that can host thought-provoking exhibits, according to the statement.

 

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