Main Streets 2017: Texas
Halfway between Waco and College Station on Highway 6, this tiny town has a history as a center for the cotton industry, a reputation as an antique-seeker’s destination, and a 70-acre historic district, centered on Main Street, that includes 82 buildings and is in the National Register of Historic Places.
“Calvert’s buildings present an attractive row of 19th century buildings,” says the online magazine texasescapes.com. “The length of Main Street is evidence of the town’s once prosperous history.”
The coming of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad in 1868 spurred Calvert’s growth as a regional trading center, and by the 1870s, it claimed to be home to the world’s largest cotton gin. But a yellow fever outbreak decimated Calvert, and its population today is half of what it was in 1880.
But Main Street is still a stretch of Texan Americana, and local businesses are doing their best to build a new economy that attracts visitors and new residents. The antiques trade here is centered on Main Street, home to The Weeping Angel Antiques, K&C Antiques and Collectibles, and Under the Chandelier, whose Facebook page notes that “scraped, beaten and chipped are the qualities that take us back in time.”
The most unusual shop on Main, though, has to be Cocoamoda Chocolates, where a 19th century dry goods store now showcases the works of a Europe-trained chocolatier and dessert chef. “Paris in Calvert … why not?” is Chef Ken Wilkinson’s motto.
Nearby is Jake’s Saloon, which calls itself “a truly Texas venue located on Victorian Main Street in Calvert.” Formerly a general store, Jake’s is decorated with mounted game heads from around the world — and it still uses its original wooden bar, decorated with honest-to-goodness Old West bullet holes.
“Calvert was multicultural years before the term was coined,” says texasescapes.com. A local historic plaque notes the arrival here, in 1854, of at least 25 families from China, brought to work in the cotton fields. “Many became permanent residents and were respected for their good work,” the plaque reports. Several African-American families in Calvert “retain Chinese surnames to this day,” the website adds.
Primary photo taken by Zeke Bermudez
Additional photos taken by Nick Van De Walle