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The historic Sam Bell Maxey House, Evergreen Cemetery with its unique collection of carved headstones, the beautifully restored Lamar County Courthouse, and Paris Main Street each contribute to earning the north Texas community of Paris the 2013 First Lady’s Texas Treasures Award.
The award, initiated in 2009, recognizes communities that showcase their dedication to community preservation efforts through participation in THC initiatives and other state and local programs. The award is sponsored by the Office of the First Lady and the THC.
“Texas Treasures are communities that go the extra mile to discover their roots, teach living history lessons, and create a lasting legacy for future generations,” said Texas First Lady Anita Perry. “This award recognizes visionary communities that put in the hard work required to ensure that their hometown is different from the next. It spotlights communities that lovingly maintain their monuments from the past in order to create a stronger future.”
Paris’ multifaceted preservation commitment is evident through the dedication of numerous individuals and organizations, including the Lamar County Historical Commission, Paris Historic Preservation Commission, Paris Main Street, the Paris Visitors and Convention Council, the Lamar County Historic Society, and the Valley of the Caddo Archeological Society. Together with the City of Paris, they are active participants in projects ranging from the Trail de Paris, part of a 130-mile hike and bike trail that connects several historic towns to Paris’ vibrant Plaza Square, where Culberson Fountain graces the center of the downtown. Two historic districts play host to numerous restaurants, shops, and restored loft
apartments, and the Lamar County Historical Museum showcases Paris history, including a room devoted to the 1916 fire that completely destroyed Paris Historic Commercial district. It was subsequently rebuilt to become the largest collection of period 1916-1918 buildings in the nation, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Other preservation success stories include Preserve America Community designation; restoration of the historic Paris Santa Fe-Frisco railroad depot, and the famous Peristyle band backdrop in Bywaters Park; Texas Capital Fund Main Street Sidewalk replacement grants for revitalization of downtown sidewalks; an Environmental Protection Agency grant for the cleanup of the historic Grand Theatre; and Historic Texas Cemetery designation for both the Evergreen and Campbell cemeteries. Paris was chosen from a group of highly qualified candidates by a committee comprised of staff members from the Office of the Governor and the THC.
“I want to thank the First Lady for sponsoring this truly deserved award,” said THC Chairman Matt Kreisle. “Texas Treasures communities represent a strong commitment to enriching the lives of visitors through the preservation of their real places telling the real stories of Texas. The efforts of the citizens of Paris should encourage other communities to follow on their own preservation journey.”
The First Lady’s Texas Treasures Award promotes and recognizes the unique heritage experiences of Paris through special signage and a DVD promoting the cultural resources of the community.
To see video clips of Paris and other award-winning communities since 2009, click here.
To learn more about this and other heritage tourism initiatives, contact the THC’s Community Heritage Development Division at 512.463.6092.