Sorry, your browser doesn't support Java(tm). This photograph shows the blending of Old Palestine as it looked in its working day, 1940, and as it looks circa 2000.

History of Old Town


 
Old Town Palestine is alive and being revitalized. Located on Crawford St. two blocks West of the Courthouse in the "Hollow" along the Creek, the Turn of the Century buildings are being restored and inhabited with shops, restaurants and a candle factory. The area was once the industrial center of the community.

The Street along the Creek has been a center of business and industrial activity in Palestine from its very beginning with Indian trading along the Creek to a Cotton Gin in later life; the area was very important to the commercial history of the City. During the early 1900's the tin barn to the West of the Creek served as the Illuminary Barn for the City of Palestine where the equipment used to light the gas street lamps daily in the City was stored before the advent of electric street lights.  The original owner of this tract of land was also the owner of the property which is now occupied by our courthouse. When the need for a courthouse became apparent as "County" status was offered to the area, the location of the courthouse had to be within the geographic center of the county, so this property was acquired by the new county.

The tin barn has started a new adventure as MaryJean's, a fine gift and home decor store with an operating candle factory. The 3000 sq foot building full of romance will intrigue you. An operating 
candle factory for Artifacts, Inc. is in public view.

The Creek flows between the old cotton gin and the tin building between the other building in Old Town. The Creek has had several names in its life as it meanders through the City of Palestine winding behind back yards and under streets such as Wells Creek and Caddo Creek.

The yellow brick building which once roared with the sounds of farm tractors to lure the customers using the Gin for their cotton now houses The Ranch House Restaurant serving delicious steaks for lunch and dinner. 

A former automotive repair shop's tin building has been reformed as a delightful store, Old Town Mercantile. On it's property was once the old Mule Barn where the horses and mules were available for the farmers using the Gin. Just imagine the family coming into town on Saturday with the cotton for the gin, to get parts or a new tractor, and of course, sending Mom and the kids up the street to Old Town or down the street to New Town for shopping.

The old Nickel Church building, yes, built by collecting nickels in the community, backs up to MaryJean's. Antiques and much more are available. This building faces Ave. A but sits on the creek also. The Church was built in the 1890's. It was situated between New Town and Old Town. There was much conflict between the old established area around the Courthouse and the New Town area alongside the railroad tracks. Old Town felt threatened by the transient and immigrant people coming through Palestine brought by the train which ran through New Town. Conflicts often broke out along the creek. Finally, the various churches sprang up along this neutral area in the successful effort to mend the rift. The Nickel Church was used only briefly as a church before it became a hall, a grocery store, a wholesale 
store and finally an antique store. It has an apartment on the upper floor where its owner has resided for many years. 

Cities and their downtown commercial areas are in constant change as businesses come and go, but because they effect the course of the economy of the city they make a substantial impact on its course. Come visit Old Town Palestine and try to visualize Palestine in the old 
horse-and-buggy stage. 

Other Historical Sources:
Anderson County Historic Commission located at Sycamore and Oak Streets in New Town area, now called Downtown. Their phone is (903) 723-3065. 
Archives for historical data are available at that site. 

City of Palestine Library also houses original documents and history of Palestine. (903) 729-4121. 

The Museum for East Texas Culture has a tremendous collection of business and commercial historical documents. Genealogy records are also stored there. 
400 N. Micheaux. (903) 723-1914.

Legend of the Dogwood





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Old Town Palestine
302 E. Crawford
 (Two blocks West of the Courthouse
on Crawford Street)
903-731-4434

 

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