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Gainesville, Texas Where”Texas Hospitality Begins”

By D Magazine |

Gainesville can be best described as a gracious community. Gainesville is located roughly 49 miles north of Dallas and Fort Worth on 1-35. Most of Gainesville’s downtown area dates from the 1880’s and 1890’s, but settlement here began 40 years earlier. California Street hails from the years when forty-niners rode through North Texas on their way to find gold in the West. Travelers spot Quarter horses, Paint horses, and Miniature horses grazing on green pasture-lands. Championship horses from Cooke County’s 42 ranches qualify the area as “one of the major horse capitals of the world,” says Greg Solomon, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director.

There are more than 53 Victorian homesites and historical buildings located in “Historic Gainesville.” Numerous turn-of the century Victorian homes remind visitors of the robust era of the cattle and cotton barons. Sightseers are struck with awe when they see these homes for the first time- they represent some of the most magnificent in Texas.

There are 3 excellent golf courses which surround the area as well as 4 lakes.

“We invite tourists to enjoy the charm of Gainesville with our numerous turn-of-the-century Victorian homes, the quaint specialty and antique shops and the Gainesville Factory Shops,” says Karon Sullivant, President of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. “For history buffs, we offer three museums and a walking tour guide of the historic district… One of the unique features people find when they visit our community is the warm hospitality they experience.”

There will be a “Country Fair on the Square and All Antique Car Show” on October 7, 1995. This event will he an opportunity for visitors to experience Gainesville’s hospitality and culture first hand. There will be hundreds of antique cars, children’s activities, food vendors, arts and crafts. On December 2, 1995 the December Holiday Fest will begin with a parade at 2 p.m. featuring a wide variety of entertainment. The Christmas Luminaries will be lit all over Gainesville for all tourists to come and view.

Frank Buck Zoo was established during the 1940’s. It was named in honor of Frank “Bring ’em Back Alive” Buck, a native son of Gainesville, who became famous for his animal acquisitions from Africa. He also served as ringmaster for the Gainesville Community Circus during its heyday. The Zoo is located one block west of I-35 on California Street. It is the only “free admission” Zoo within a 200 mile radius. The Zoo, and a significant portion of the community, was destroyed by flood waters in what has been called a “500 year” flood in October 1981. The staff carried out its disaster plan and kept the number of animal deaths and injuries to a minimum. “Gerry the Elephants’ ” resourcefulness when she wedged her body in a tree and held her trunk above the water, saved her life. This act also served as a symbol of hope and survival for the community. The Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. with extended hours from April through August of 9:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Morton Museum is one of the high-lights of the Gainesville The building in which the museum is housed was built by the City of Gainesville in 1884 as a city hall-fire station. The second story, in which the city offices were located, and the bell tower were removed in the 1930’s. Incorporated into the architecture of the museum are a number of items of historical interest. The focal point came from the Victorian home built in the 1880’s by U.S. Senator Joseph Weldon Bailey. Morton Museum serves a community need by preserving and exhibiting artifacts to stimulate interest in the history of Cooke County.

For live entertainment at its best, the Butterfield Stage Players perform on weekends in October, December, February, April and June. The Players showcase the superb talent of local actors and actresses to audiences that continue to return for more.

One of Gainesville’s most popular landmarks is the Santa Fe Depot. Built in 1902 the depot reflected Gaines-ville’s status as a regional hub of commerce. From the 1880s through the early 1900s, the town thrived as a major shipper of cattle and cotton.

Although no longer in use (it served its last passengers in 1979), the well-maintained, red-brick and tile-roofed depot stands along the tracks between Broadway and California streets. With government grants and private donations, the Community preservation Foundation plans to restore the building to mint condition.

Aficionados of classic cars, Coca-Cola, or circuses appreciate the Schmitz Museum. A large room houses 25 classic cars, reminders of the days when the building served as Frank’s auto dealership. He drove in the Great American Race, an annual cross-country event for antique autos. Recalling the competitions from 1989 to 1993, he says, “I raced for three years in the 79 Dodge Sport Roadster and for two in the ’36 DeSoto Coupe.”

Lining the building’s upstairs walls are Coca-Cola bottles, signs, calendars, and 4,500 artifacts from the building’s bottling-plant days.

Near the entrance, the museum displays memories of the city’s renowned circus with the help of many local residents.

Those individuals interested in moving to this comfortable and safe community will want to know about some of the fringe benefits, North Central Texas College is a progressive and well-rounded community college. It has a student population of approximately 4,200. In addition to Gainesville, it has branch campuses in Denton, Lewisville, and Montague County.

Historic tours are available at no cost to many visitors which visit Gainesville, Individuals or groups interested in touring the community and receiving discount coupon books for shopping in Gainesville should contact Dana Schroeder, Executive Assistant for Tourism and Membership or Rhonda Matthews, Information and Referral Coordinator at 817-665-2831 (Fax number is 817-665-2833).

Copy courtesy Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.

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