It’s been a long week for our friends in Texas. The good news is that there are many different ways we can help or if you’re in Texas, get help.(more…)
Calvert, Texas – Main Street
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
Denton, Texas – Downtown Square
Main Streets 2016: Texas
If a city can have a front yard, Denton’s would be Downtown Square. And its front porch would be the Denton County Courthouse on the Square, an architectural gem and beloved landmark that’s right there towering over it all.
The Square, as it’s universally known, is where Denton gathers to eat and drink, shop and conduct business. It’s where holidays are celebrated. The Square has been the center of town for nearly as long as Denton’s been a town, and it continues to offer a small-town flavor even as Denton, just north of Dallas, has grown to become a hip, diverse city.
Life here revolves around the Square. This is where residents, visitors and students at one of the town’s two universities, the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University, come for music, parades and festivals — or just to lounge on the lawn or to play a game of Hacky Sack.
The city is home to a vibrant local music scene. Among its diverse attractions is the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, a free event just off the Square the last weekend in April that features seven stages of music, fine art, crafts, food and games. There’s also 35 Denton, an annual three-day music festival staged in March. And although the fairgrounds aren’t right downtown, no mention of Denton is complete without including the North Texas Fair and Rodeo, a nine-day extravaganza in August that celebrates everything Texan.
Meanwhile, the Square celebrates Texas just about every day. This is the place to come for a pair of jeans or cowboy boots, a vintage record album, or some artisan-designed jewelry. If you’re more inclined to learn the history of the town, visit the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum in the courthouse building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There’s no longer an active court here — just plenty to discover about this lively, historic North Texas community.
Photo courtesy of Ed Steele Photography