Recent Articles

Arts & Historic District Partners Launch Federal Courthouse/Post Office Improvement Project Downtown

TEXARKANA, TX – Work on the Federal Courthouse/Post Office Improvement project will begin later this month. Led by the Texarkana Arts & Historic District, the Courthouse Square Connections Project is a dual city effort to increase walkability and enhance the area around the existing United States Post Office and Federal Courthouse in downtown.

Current view of Texarkana Post Office/Courthouse

Many local partners have joined together to make this project possible, including the City of Texarkana, Texas, the City of Texarkana, Arkansas, Texarkana, Arkansas Advertising & Promotion Commission, Texarkana USA Regional Chamber of Commerce, – Texarkana Arts & Historic District (including the cities and the Chamber plus Main Street Texarkana, the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra, the Texarkana Regional Arts & Humanities Council, the Texarkana Museums System), a National Endowment for the Arts Grant (Public Art), and the Texarkana Wilbur Smith Rotary Club (Donation of Trees). There has also been a local resident design team involved in the planning efforts that is part of a number of Leadership Texarkana Strategic Doing Groups citywide. As one of our community’s main attractions, the downtown Texarkana Federal Courthouse and Post Office lures hundreds of visitors and residents alike to downtown Texarkana. The Post Office is so unique that it has been noted to be the 2nd most photographed federal courthouse in the United States, and remains one of the main tourism draws for Texarkana’s downtown. Continue Reading →

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The Awakening of American History Compared to American Mythology

Base of Frederick Douglass statue torn down July 4, 2020

Opinion:  Our nation has uplifted men from the founding fathers, to military leaders, to poets and politicians. We are only now admitting they are not as perfect as American Mythology would have you believe.  Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison, Jackson, Crockett, Bowie, Lee, Grant, Douglass, and so many other men and women make up the core of “American Mythology.”  Myths and stories have grown up around these men and women.   Some myths rose in their lifetimes, and some long after the person died.  This mythology based on Americans has become a new world mythology where these men and women seem to rise above the rest of us, and they seem untouchable.   Webster’s accepted definition of the word Mythology is “a popular belief or assumption that has grown up around someone or something.”   When we consider that the various heroes from the founding of the nation through our modern times have elevated men and women and built up popular beliefs or assumptions, we can easily see that America has its own mythology. If you studied the revolution, you will hear stories about how British bullets could not hit Washington. You understand how Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, and Hamilton did not shoot first but shot the tree instead of Burr.  If you grew up in the south, you hear about Lee, Jackson, Forrest, and many other heroes of the south.  They would have you believe that Lee was the most brilliant military mind to live by all accounts.  In the north, Grant, Sherman, and others would seem invincible in their starch defense of the Union.  Lincoln was elevated to the most celebrated abolitionist to live.  When you look to the west, we have stories of the shootout at the OK Corel, Custer’s last stand, Geronimo, and others.   Who can forget the 1950 and 1960s coonskin cap craze where David Crocket, already a mythical character during his lifetime, would be elevated to killing a bear when he was three years old and holding back the entire Mexican army at the Alamo.  In most of these stories, the focus has been the positive, right, and heroic aspects of the men and women.   

With the age of the Internet, various “history” experts, the broad study and examination of history, we have begun to see that these mythological figures from our American history are often anything except what we were taught or led to believe.  Gradually that acceptance has led first to reports, papers, and articles indicating that “nobody” is perfect.  Dale Carnegie published the famous book “Lincoln The Unknown.”  A careful study of the Emancipation Proclamation will find that it did not free slaves in the Union.  The American Mythology has always been careful to avoid the fact that Lincoln’s in-laws owned slaves, and that five slave states were fighting for the Union.  It has also been careful to ignore that those slave states in the Union held slavery long after the Emancipation Proclamation.  To this day, the Proclamation is debated whether it was  Constitutionally legal since Lincoln had no power to change laws.  The list goes own. Continue Reading →

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Debate on Confederate Monument in Texarkana Has Increased Petition Drives

Currently at least three petitions are running online concerning the Confederate Mothers Monument in downtown Texarkana

Texarkana, USA: At least three petitions are currently online concerning the Confederate Mothers Monument near the federal courthouse and post office. One petition calls for the monument to be removed and placed in a museum for study and history, a Texas side petition calls for the monument to remain, and a third is for Arkansas side residents requesting the monument to stay. The petition from Black Lives Matter Texarkana has requested that the monument be moved to a museum, cemetery where Confederate soldiers are buried or in another area out of the “public square.” The petition is being prepared to be presented to the City of Texarkana, Texas. The petition also recommends a possible plaque to be placed at the monument’s current location to show historical context. Continue Reading →

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Considering Compromise For the Confederate Mothers Monument

Opinion: Over the last few weeks social media, mainstream media, and conversations in Texarkana have been divided concerning the Confederate Mothers Monument in downtown Texarkana. One side views the monument as heritage, history, and part of the beauty of the historic district of the town. The other side views it as a symbol of white supremacy, racism, and hate. As one local media outlet stated, about the only thing anyone agreed on was to disagree. If we honestly look at the facts, and we look at them objectively as well, all sides have a valid point. Continue Reading →

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Monument Gains Support to Stay

Texarkana Confederate Monument from Wikipedia

The Confederate Mothers Monument in Texarkana is gaining support on social media to remain in downtown Texarkana. Texarkana, USA: A local veteran women’s group has stirred historians and citizens alike in both Texarkana, Arkansas, and Texas to the rallying cry “Leave it alone,” and “Let it stay” on social media. Over a week ago, the Texarkana Gazette ran an article indicating that there will be a march in protest of the Confederate Monument on June 19th. A local veteran women’s group planned the march and discussed the issue with the paper for the article. The Four States News ran a brief review of the history of the monument and the viewpoint of both sides on June 17. Continue Reading →

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The Alamo Presents Homespun, A Virtual Living History Event – May 2

Can you imagine what life was like before ready-made clothes? Learn about the fibers, fabrics, and tools needed to make clothes in 1830’s Texas with Homespun on Saturday, May 2.Traditionally held on the Alamo grounds, take a virtual journey through the clothes-making process with the Alamo’s living historians. This virtual event will take place all day long on the Official Alamo Facebook page through videos detailing how clothes were made in the 1830’s, from spinning the wool, dyeing cloth, sewing, leatherwork and more. In addition to the creation process, Homespun will also examine the military uniforms of 1830’s Texas. Homespun can be enjoyed for free on the Official Alamo Facebook page. What: Homespun, an online living history event that explores the fibers, fabrics, and tools for clothes-making in 1830’s Texas.Who: General publicWhen: Videos posted throughout the day Saturday, May 2Where:On the Official Alamo Facebook page
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Ace of Clubs House Receives Historic Preservation Grant from National DAR

Texarkana, USA: The historic Ace of Clubs House has been awarded a $6,500 National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Preservation Grant to assist with the restoration of windows. “We are extremely excited to have received this grant from the National DAR and we are grateful to our local Lone Star DAR chapter for having sponsored us in our application for these funds.  This acknowledgement of the importance and historical significance of our community’s Ace of Clubs House means a great deal,” said Velvet Hall Cool, Board President of the Texarkana Museums System. Built in 1885, the historic Ace of Clubs House is on both the State of Texas and National Historic Registers and is an integral part of the landscape of historic downtown Texarkana.  Mrs. Olivia Smith Moore donated the unique property, built in the shape of a club, to the Texarkana Museums System in the 1980’s to fulfill her desire to help maintain the history of our region.  It has been visited by Bob Villa and featured on HGTV’s Christmas Castles. “Our Lone Star DAR Chapter is always dedicated to supporting this area of our regional history.  Mrs. Moore herself was a member of our chapter and this home and the Texarkana Museums System correspond well with our mission of historic preservation and education.  Our partnerships inevitably have a significant impact to the community,” stated Tammie Duncan Blackburn, Regent of the Lone Star Chapter of the DAR. This grant allows the Ace of Clubs House to utilize the City of Texarkana, Texas Hotel Occupancy Tax Funds as matching funds. This doubles the impact of the grant and provides a much-needed $13,000 budget for window repairs in an effort to salvage the original glass. With 77 windows in this home and each window costing $750 to $1,000, the Ace of Clubs House and Texarkana Museums System still need more community support. Continue Reading →

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The Alamo Presents San Jacinto Day: Texas Remembers – April 21

The Alamo has partnered with the Texas Historical Commission, the San Jacinto Museum, and Presidio La Bahía to present San Jacinto Day: Texas Remembers, live on the Alamo’s Facebook page on Tuesday, April 21.Every year during Fiesta, the Alamo hosts special events to honor the Texan Army’s victory at the Battle of San Jacinto including the Daughters of the Republic of Texas’ annual pilgrimage to the Alamo. Due to COVID-19 and Fiesta being rescheduled for November, San Jacinto Day has been adapted to a special online event so that Texans can continue to celebrate Texas’s rich history together. San Jacinto Day: Texas Remembers will also be a great opportunity for parents to add to their child’s learning experience while at home, especially 4th and 7th-grade students taking Texas history classes. Learn from experts at state historic sites like Casa Navarro, Presidio La Bahía, Washington-on-the-Brazos, San Felipe de Austin, the San Jacinto Battleground, and The Alamo. Hear unique stories from the lead educators from these sites, learn about the events leading up to the Battle of San Jacinto, and more. Hosted and produced by Gary Foreman, owner of Native Sun Productions, San Jacinto Day will feature these speakers: Doug McDonald, CEO, The AlamoMark Wolfe, Executive Director, Texas Historical CommissionCarla Miller, President of the Alamo Mission Chapter, Daughters of the Republic of TexasJeanie Travis, President, Fiesta San Antonio CommissionJordan Anderson, Lead Educator, Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic SiteGeorgia Davis, Site Manager, Casa Navarro State Historic SiteBill Irwin, Historic Site Operations, Texas Historical CommissionCait Johnson, Lead Educator, San Jacinto Battleground State Historic SiteBryan McAuley, Site Manager, San Felipe de Austin State Historic SiteScott McMahon, Director, Presidio La BahíaErnesto Rodriguez, Curator, The AlamoViewers will be able to submit their questions ahead of the broadcast on the Official Alamo Facebook page, where the presentation will be live-streamed. What:San Jacinto Day: Texas Remembers, a digital history broadcast featuring experts from state historic sites celebrating the anniversary of Texas’ victory at the Battle of San Jacinto.Who: General publicWhen: 3 p.m.Tuesday, April 21Where:Live on the Official Alamo Facebook page
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Nathan Bedford Forrest Rides Again

When Nathan Bedford Forrest passed away on October 29, 1877,
most people would have thought it was the end of the former Confederate
General’s influence, impact, and story.  For
all the ups and downs of his life, the fact remains that Forrest was one of the
most successful Cavalry leaders in all history. 
He had been so successful as a Confederate General of the Cavalry that
when potential war loomed with Spain, he was considered to fight.  The General-in-chief of the United States
Army said that had war started with Spain; he would “consider it an honor
to have served side-by-side with Forrest.” 
Despite the positive and negative historical accounts about Forrest, most
would have considered the history books closed on the man when he died.  That closure of history would not be the case
for his legacy, though.  Forrest could
not escape fame and honor from some and disgust and loathing from others.   He would be buried in Elmwood Cemetery and
primarily forgotten except for those history books.  However, in 1904 with a surge of pride in the
south, Forrest and his wife made the ride from Elmwood to a new resting place
in Memphis at what would become Forrest Park. 
In Forrest Park, Confederate history would be displayed, and tourism for
the area would rise.   Monuments and historic plaques told the history
of Forrest and others. With the recent rise in Anti-Confederate hysteria, the Forrest statue, park, and resting place came under fire from Memphis officials. Ignoring the pleas to leave the site alone, allow it to serve as a historical site, and the state law forbidding the removal of historical statues, the city leaders pushed ahead and found a loophole. In the dead of night, they sold the renamed park, now named Health Sciences Park, to Memphis Greenspace. The organization was started as a non-profit in October 2017, and purchased the park for $1,000, a considerable amount under fair market value, in December 2017. The purchase was made with the approval of the Memphis Greenspace president, Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner. The move allowed the city to sidestep the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act as the non-profit Memphis Greenspace had no obligation to honor state law. The move was reported to have infuriated the governor and others on a state level in Tennessee. Almost immediately, lawsuits were launched, and protest was made. Memphis Greenspace mostly ignored the protest, lawsuits, and
calls to leave Forrest and his wife’s graves untouched.  Memphis Greenspace immediately began removing
statues.  The organization completely
ignored the fact that the figure of Forrest was not only a statue but also a
headstone.  The organization removed it
without respect for the grave or the history.  In many states, the law would have considered the
move of a headstone to be the desecration of a cemetery. Continue Reading →

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Masonic Lodge and City of Texarkana Arkansas Saves a Small Piece of History

By now, social media has ensured that most people in
Texarkana know about the Regency building and the recent collapse of a front
wall.  If you don’t know about it, take a
drive to downtown Texarkana, Arkansas and look for the blocked off section of
the road.  The top portion of the
building fell in creating a safety hazard and concern for the pocket park and
surrounding businesses.  As is the case,
it seems when any old building has issues, and the city seeks out the owner,
the owner suddenly appears to be nowhere to be found.  With no owner in sight, and a falling in
building that the city may have to secure, the time to save a part of Texarkana
history finally arrived. For years the building was the location of Dillards before
the move to the mall.  It has been the
home of several other businesses as well before it began to fall into a state
of disrepair sometime in the early 1990s. 
That disrepair and lack of maintenance by the, now lost owners, seems to
have contributed to the recent collapse. 
Another aspect of the building’s history is that while Dillards and
other stores were housed downstairs, the upstairs was once the home of
Texarkana Masonic Lodge #341.  The lodge
met upstairs for several years, and in the late 1970s, the group opted to
purchase some land to build a new lodge building.  By the early 1980s, the lodge moved to their
current location at 4102 East 9th Street in Texarkana,

Like most moves, the lodge carried their furniture, pictures, charter, and other belongings to the new location. It was an exciting time of growth and expansion as the lodge moved into their new building at the 5-acre location. Unfortunately, there was one item the lodge could not take with them at the time. Regency House Building before fall

Over time, some may have noticed that on the front of the Regency building, up high on the wall, was a small metal-looking emblem.  The square and compass contains the letter “G” and is the symbol of Freemasonry.  The little sign that marked the home of Lodge #341 had to be left behind because there was no way to obtain it. Masonic symbol on Regency Building

Through the years the Lodge #341 had attempted to retrieve
the symbol.  Because of the same
difficulties the city is now having in contacting the owners, the lodge was
never able to obtain their property. 
Lodge member Mike Bunn noted that the lodge had access to a bucket truck
at one time and city approval to take the symbol down.    By that
time, they could not reach the owner to discuss removing the symbol. Regency Building fall – from Facebook post

When the building fell in recently, it was apparent that the
lodge symbol had gone with the collapsed wall. 
Members of the lodge assumed the metal symbol, and a significant piece
of Texarkana history, as well as the Lodge #341’s history, had been lost.  Contact was made with the city and
arrangements were made to see if the symbol could be retrieved.  While members of the lodge and community
could not, and should not go into the restricted area, city officials could
arrange for inspections, reviews, and preparations to remove the remainder of
the building.  Because city officials
knew the desire to have the historic symbol back home with Lodge #341, they
safely looked for an option to obtain the symbol. 

Surprisingly, the galvanized sheet steel symbol was found
together on top of the collapsed wall.  City
officials quickly obtained it before further damage could be done and turned it
over to the lodge.   The symbol is now
safety secured, and preparations are being made to restore it, and display it
at the lodge’s home. Continue Reading →

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