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Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

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Preserve America Community:
Paris, Texas

Eiffel Tower, Paris, Texas  photo by Lori Martin/Shutterstock

With a population of about 26,000, Paris has been called the "Best Small Town in Texas." Located in the Heart of Red River Valley and about 100 miles northeast of Dallas, Paris was founded in 1839 and became the Lamar County seat in 1845.

Early access to Paris was by flatboats and small steam-driven paddle wheelers on the Red River originating in New Orleans and Shreveport. Goods were ferried overland by wagons and oxcart on the Central National Road of the Republic of Texas, which passed through the county from southwest to northeast, intersecting the City of Paris and allowing farmers and trappers to ship their products to markets in Louisiana.

Paris later survived two major fires, including a devastating one in 1916 that destroyed almost the entire downtown and a large residential area. By 1919, much of Paris had been rebuilt, creating a time capsule of period architecture.

For 40 years, the downtown plaza area of Paris deteriorated and was deserted at night. Since 1996, efforts by the Lamar County Historical Commission with the city and the private sector have revitalized the area and restored many historic resources, especially those surrounding the plaza and on nearby side streets.

Among the historic buildings now adaptively reused to enrich the community are the 1916 Griener-Mohr Building, now an arts center; The Texas and Pacific Depot, now a restaurant; and the 1886 Wise House, now rented for special events.

Union Station was restored and now is home to the chamber of commerce and the County Genealogical Society, while the land surrounding it has become Heritage Park with an interpretive trail.

An old warehouse has been restored as Heritage Hall, while an adjacent building is being developed as the County Historical Museum. One completed museum project is the restoration of the 1846 Biard log house. City hall, the county courthouse, and a vacant post office have all been restored, as well as smaller scale projects in the business district and the historic parks.

Paris, Texas, has an active Main Street program that has helped develop a historic district and protective ordinances recently approved by the city council. The chamber of commerce is also active in heritage tourism promotion.

For more information

Paris Texas Visitors & Convention Council: www.paristexas.com

City of Paris Visitor Resources: www.cityofparistx.com/city_website_2000/visitors/visitors

Posted October 2, 2015

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