It’s sort of trendy in these parts to portray Plano and Collin County as new and shiny and soul-less, places where the rubes go to Olive Garden for a big night out. But poking around up there for a D CEO feature (found in our June issue) on the fast-growing county, I was reminded that Plano—the name’s the Spanish word for “flat”—actually is rich with a long and fascinating history, having first been settled in the 1840s. My own mother’s parents met in the one-time rural farming community in the late 1800s, about the time the historic building that now houses Plano’s A.R. Schell & Son Insurance Agency was rebuilt following a big fire.
Jamie Schell, whose grandfather founded the independent agency in 1930, told us for the feature how the area’s recent growth has affected his business (in a word, “fantastic”). We also learned that, at various times over the years, his family’s A.R. Schell building on East 15th Street in the historic downtown has been a drugstore, a saloon, a lodge for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, an American Legion hall, and a First National Bank location. From 1932 to 1948, Jamie’s grandfather, A.R. Schell Jr., was Plano’s longest-serving mayor. The Schell insurance agency has occupied the historic building since 1958 and, in the 1980s, Jamie’s family restored it to the Art Deco style it had as a bank office, many decades before. Plano’s historic downtown has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years, Jamie said, before adding: “Boy, am I glad we didn’t move.”