Historic downtown Paris
Location of Lamar County
|• City Council||Mayor Dr Hashmi
Billie Sue Lancaster
Cleonne Holmes Drake
|• City Manager||John Godwin|
|• Total||44.4 sq mi (115.0 km2)|
|• Land||42.8 sq mi (110.7 km2)|
|• Water||1.7 sq mi (4.3 km2)|
|Elevation||600 ft (183 m)|
|• Density||605.7/sq mi (233.9/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC−6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC−5)|
|GNIS feature ID||1364810|
Paris, Texas is a city and county seat of Lamar County, Texas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 25,171. It is situated in Northeast Texas at the western edge of the Piney Woods, and 98 miles (158 km) northeast of the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex. Physiographically, these regions are part of the West Gulf Coastal Plain.
Local residents like the humorous slogan "Second Largest Paris in the World." Following a tradition of American cities named "Paris", a 65-foot (20 m) replica of the Eiffel Tower was constructed in 1993. In 1998, presumably as a response to the 1993 construction of a 60-foot (18 m) tower in Paris, Tennessee, the city placed a giant red cowboy hat atop the tower. The current tower is at least the second Eiffel Tower replica built in Paris; the first was constructed of wood and later destroyed by a tornado.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Economy
- 5 Education
- 6 Government
- 7 Transportation
- 8 Attractions
- 9 Notable people
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Lamar County was first settled by several groups in different parts of an area to the west of Jonesborough and Clarksville. There was a group on the Red River at a place called Fulton; one near what is called Emberson now; one to the southeast of there about 12 miles near where today is the North Lamar school complex; another southwest of that at the Chisum-Johnson community called Pinhook; and a group of pioneers to the east of that about six miles at Moore's Springs. Then, in late 1839 George W. Wright moved from his farm northeast of Clarksville to a hill where he purchased 1,000 acres from Larkin Rattan. At the time no permanent settler resided on this land. It was on the old road that led from the Kiomatia River's mouth at the Red River west into the Grand Prairie. Wright established a store on the northeast portion of his property, on the road. By December 1840 a new county was formed, named in honor of the Republic of Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar. By September 1841 Wright's store was called Paris, and was a local postal office. In August 1844, the county commissioners decided to take Wright's offer of 50 acres and establish the county seat in the middle, at the town of Paris.
The area of present Lamar County was within the boundaries of Red River County at the time of the Republic of Texas. By 1840 population growth necessitated a new county, and legislation was introduced by representatives from Red River County. Wright, who had served in the Third Congress as a representative from Red River County, was a major promoter of the founding of Lamar County, which was established by act of the Fifth Congress of the republic on December 17, 1840, and organized by election on February 1, 1841. At the time, the county included much of what is now Delta County.
In 1870, Delta County was formed, and Lamar County was reduced to its present size. The county was named for Mirabeau B. Lamar, the fourth president of the Republic of Texas. The original county seat was Lafayette, a small settlement located several miles northwest of the site of present-day Paris. On June 22, 1841, forty acres of land was donated by John Watson for building a proper county seat, but though the town was platted, no lots were ever sold. The county court continued to meet at Lafayette, however, until the Texas Congress passed a law in 1842 requiring that each county seat be located within five miles of the geographic center of the county. Mount Vernon was made Lamar county seat in 1843, but again no courthouse was built. In 1844 Wright, who had purchased 1,000 acres near the settlement of Pinhook, offered to donate fifty acres to the county for a townsite if the county commissioners would make it the county seat. The offer was accepted, and the new town was named Paris. The first term of the county court was held there on April 29, 1844. Paris is still the county seat.
The first recorded settlement in the vicinity was in 1826, and settlements were known to be in the area as early as 1824. The town was founded by merchant George W. Wright, who donated 50 acres (200,000 m2) of land in February 1844, when the community was also designated the county seat. It was incorporated by the Congress of the Republic of Texas on February 3, 1845. Paris was on the Central National Road of the Republic of Texas, which ran from San Antonio north through Paris to cross the Red River. By the eve of the Civil War, when it had 700 residents, Paris had become a cattle and farming center. It is the site of the first municipally owned and operated abattoir in the United States. Lamar County was one of the few Texas counties that voted against secession, though many of its inhabitants later served in the Confederacy.
In 1877, 1896, and 1916, major fires forced the city to rebuild. The 1916 fire was so extensive that it destroyed almost half the town, ruining most of the central business district and sweeping through a residential area before it was finally controlled, resulting in property damages estimated at $11 million. Burned structures included the Federal Building and post office, Lamar County Courthouse and Jail, City Hall, most commercial buildings, and several churches. The 1916 fire started around 5 p.m. on March 21, 1916. The exact cause of the fire is unknown. Winds estimated at 50 miles per hour fanned the flames that were visible for up to forty miles away. The fire was brought under control on the morning on March 22 by local firefighters and those from surrounding cities in Texas and Hugo, Oklahoma.
In 1943, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Paris law requiring permits to take order for books in Largent v. Texas. The court found the law's intent was to violate the free speech rights of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Eiffel Tower Replica
There are fifteen American municipalities named "Paris," and more than a few have chosen to erect Eiffel Tower replicas to pay homage to their French namesake.
Both Paris of Texas and Paris of Tennessee dedicated their Eiffel Tower replicas in 1993: Tennessee's was built at Christian Brothers University (in Memphis) and was 60 feet tall, Texas's was built by the Boilermakers 902, a labor union representing workers of the former Babcock and Wilcox Paris Plant, and was 65 feet tall. But when Tennessee moved its tower to Paris it asserted its dominance by adding another ten feet -- looking down on Texas at 70 feet tall.
Paris, Texas, was left in the faux-foreign architecture dust. Its claim to be the "Second Largest Paris in the World," and the inspiration for the title of the 1984 movie Paris, Texas, rang hollow. So in 1998 town boosters added a large red cowboy hat to the tip of the tower, tilted to push a few extra feet into the lower atmosphere.
Many decried this as the dumbest idea ever, but to us it seemed in the spirit of other local attractions: a grave monument with Jesus in cowboy boots and a junior college entrance decorated with a statue of their cartoon dragon mascot.
Turns out the cowboy hat idea came just in time. The following year, in 1999, Las Vegas humbled all the little Paris's when it erected a 540-foot-tall Eiffel Tower replica along the Strip. At half the height of the original (which is 984 feet tall), this Eiffel Tower is nearly ten times taller than the other replicas.
But no hat.
Paris has long been a railroad center. The Texas and Pacific reached town in 1876; the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway (later merged into the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway) and the St. Louis - San Francisco Railway in 1887; the Texas Midland (later Southern Pacific) in 1894; and the Paris and Mount Pleasant (Pa-Ma Line) in 1910.
The city is home to several stately late 19th century to mid-20th century homes. Among these is the Rufus Fenner Scott Mansion, designed by German architect J.L. Wees and constructed in 1910. The structure is solid concrete and steel with four floors. Rufus Scott was a prominent businessman known for shipping, imports, and banking. He was well known by local farmers who bought aging transport mules from Mr. Scott. The Scott Mansion narrowly survived the fire of 1916. After the fire, Mr. Scott brought Mr. Wees back to Paris to redesign the historic downtown area. In the early 1930s, Rufus Scott died, and his home was purchased by Gene Roden, who converted the home into a funeral home. It was the first funeral home in northeast Texas to have its own chapel. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. On April 1, 2006, Gene Roden's Sons Funeral Home was sold to Arvin Starrett and E. Casey Rose (who was managing the firm at the time) and the name was changed to Starrett-Rose Funeral Home. In March 2007, Casey Rose sold his 50% interest in the firm to Arvin Starrett and the name became Starrett Funeral Home.
Also of note is the recently restored home of William Belford Wise. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, the property is an example of late Victorian Queen Anne style architecture in masonry.
Henry Smith (born 1876) was an African-American who was tortured and murdered at a public, heavily attended and promoted lynching on February 1, 1893 at the Paris Fairgrounds in Paris, Texas. Smith was accused of the brutal murder of three-year-old Myrtle Vance, the daughter of a policeman known for mistreating prisoners. Smith was among those who had previously been beaten by Myrtle's father, after he had been arrested for drunkenness. He was a neighborhood handyman and known alcoholic. According to a New York Times article from Feb. 1, 1893, Smith allegedly: "picked up little Myrtle Vance ... near her father's residence, and ... carried her through the central portion of the city... En route through the city he was asked by several persons what he was doing with the child." When the police found no clues to the child's death, people in the area decided Smith must have committed the crime. After Myrtle's body was found, Smith continued life as usual, but upon hearing a mob was after him, he fled to Hope, Arkansas. There he was captured and brought back to Paris by train, where a mob of an estimated 10,000 whites placed him on a carnival float and carried him through town and out into a prairie. There, he was placed upon a scaffold and tortured for fifty minutes by members of the girl's family, who thrust hot iron brands into his flesh, starting with his feet and legs and working upward to his head. The family members involved included Myrtle's father, uncles, and twelve-year-old brother. A February 2, 1893 article in the New York Sun stated that, "Every groan from the fiend, every contortion of his body was cheered by the thickly packed crowd." Eventually, the hot irons were thrust into his eye sockets and down his throat. Afterwards, finding he was still breathing, the crowd poured oil on him and set him on fire. According to some newspaper accounts, Smith remained alive during the burning. He is said to have torn himself away from the post and fallen off the scaffolding, where he perished. The crowd then fought over the hot ashes to collect his bones and teeth as souvenirs. On February 7, Henry Smith's stepson, William Butler, was lynched outside Paris. Though Butler was known as an upstanding citizen, he was hanged only on suspicion that he had known, and not divulged, the whereabouts of Henry Smith after he had fled.
Paris Junior College
Paris Junior College was established in 1924. In 1990, it was one of the oldest junior colleges in Texas; at that time the main campus had twenty buildings, including a new $1.1 million physical education center, and the college offered both technical and academic instruction. Its jewelry technologies department, now known as The Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology at Paris Junior College, is internationally recognized. Paris Junior College Dragon's Men's basketball team won the NJCAA national championship in 2005. Paris Junior College has a new beautiful women's dormitory that opened up in fall of 2012, and a new multimillion Science and Mathematics building that opened up in the spring of 2013.
From 1942 to 1945, the US Army operated Camp Maxey, 10 miles (16 km) north of Paris. During World War II, Camp Maxey had an area of 36,683 Acres (14,845.08 Hectares), and billeting space for 2,022 Officers, and 42,515 Enlisted Personnel.
The camp served as an infantry-division training camp. Named in honor of Samuel Bell Maxey, it was activated on 15 July 1942 and deactivated 1 October 1945. It also served as an internment center for many German prisoners of war. Currently, Camp Maxey is maintained by a Texas Army National Guard unit, who regularly conduct training exercises, although the Camp itself is garrisoned normally by a force of only 10 men. Civil Air Patrol's Texas Wing also regularly uses the camp for training events.
In June 2008, when word came that over 600 American service personnel were coming to receive training for the war in Iraq, residents of the city of Paris adopted them and made donations of everything the troops could possibly need so they might enjoy their stay in Paris before they went on to the war.
Modern city rating
Paris, Texas was named "Best Small Town in Texas" in 1998 by Kevin Heubusch in his book The New Rating Guide to Life in America's Small Cities.
Paris is located at  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 44.4 square miles (115 km2), of which 42.8 square miles (111 km2) is land and 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2) (3.74%) is water.(33.662508, −95.547692).
Paris is located in "Tornado Alley", an area largely centered in the middle of the United States which sees tornadoes frequently. Paris is in USDA plant hardiness zone 7b for winter temperatures. This is cooler than its southern neighbor Dallas, and while similar to Atlanta, Georgia, it has warmer summertime temperatures. Summertime average highs reach 94 F and 95 °F (35 °C) in July and August, with associated lows of 72 and 71. Winter temperatures drop to an average high of 51 and low of 30 in January. The highest temperature on record was 115, set in August 1936, and the record low was −5, set in 1930. Average precipitation is 47.82 inches (1,215 mm). Snow is not unusual, but is by no means predictable, and years can pass with no snowfall at all.
On April 2, 1982, Paris was hit by an F4 tornado that destroyed more than 1,500 homes, left ten people dead, 170 injured and 3,000 homeless. The damage toll from this tornado was estimated at 50 million USD in 1982.
|Climate data for Paris, Texas|
|Average high °F (°C)||51
|Average low °F (°C)||30
|Precipitation inches (mm)||2.2
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 25,171 people. As of the census of 2000, there were 25,898 people, 10,570 households, and 6,711 families residing in the city. The population density was 605.7 people per square mile (233.9/km²). There were 11,777 housing units at an average density of 275.5 per square mile (106.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 72.92% White, 22.26% African American, 0.95% Native American, 0.66% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.56% from other races, and 1.63% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.12% of the population.
There were 10,570 households, of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.7% were married couples living together, 17.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.5% are classified as non-families by the United States Census Bureau. Of 10,570 households, 385 are unmarried partner households: 349 heterosexual, 14 same-sex male, and 22 same-sex female households. 32.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.97.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.4% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 18.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 86.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $27,438, and the median income for a family was $34,916. Males had a median income of $29,378 versus $20,080 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,137. About 16.5% of families and 20.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.0% of those under age 18 and 15.9% of those age 65 or over.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2010)|
In the past, Paris was a major cotton exchange, and while cotton is still farmed on the lands around Paris, it is no longer the economic force that it once was.
Paris has one major hospital split on two campuses: Paris Regional Medical Center South (formerly St. Joseph's Hospital) and Paris Regional Medical Center North (formerly McCuistion Regional Medical Center). It serves as center for healthcare for much of Northeast Texas and Southeast Oklahoma. Both campuses are now operated jointly under the name of the Paris Regional Medical Center, a division of Essent Healthcare. The health network is the largest employer in the Paris area.
Elementary and secondary education is split between three main school districts:
- The Paris Independent School District serves the portion of the city inside of Loop 286.
- The North Lamar Independent School District serves the north side of the city, outside of loop 286.
- The Chisum Independent School District serves the south side of the city, outside loop 286.
In addition, Paris Junior College provides post-secondary education, and hosts the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology, a well-respected school of gemology, horology, and jewelry, and the Industrial Technology Division which offers programs in Air Conditioning Technology, Refrigeration Technology, Agricultural Technology, Drafting and Computer-aided Design, Electronics, Electromechanical Technology, and Welding Technology.
The Paris Public Library serves Paris.
It is governed by a city council as specified in the city's charter adopted in 1948.
At the Federal level, the two U.S. Senators from Texas are Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz; Paris is part of Texas' US Congressional 4th District, which is currently represented by Republican Ralph M. Hall.
According to the Texas Transportation Commission, Paris is the second-largest city in Texas without a four-lane divided highway connecting to an Interstate highway within the state. However, those traveling north of the city can go into the Midwest on a four-lane thoroughfare via US 271 across the Red River into Oklahoma, and then the Indian Nation Turnpike from Hugo to Interstate 40 at Henryetta, which in turn continues as a free four-lane highway via US 75 to Tulsa.
Paris is served by two taxicab companies. Cox Field provides general aviation services.
- Pat Mayse Lake
- Lake Crook
- St. Paul Baptist Church - Founded in 1867 by former slave Elijah Barnes, registered at the state and federal level as the second oldest African American Baptist Church in the state. Currently flourishing under the direction of Pastor Kenneth Rogers.
- Central Presbyterian Church – founded in 1844, it was the first church formed in Lamar County, boasts historic stained glass windows and is historically registered at the state and federal levels
- Beaver's Bend Resort Park (Oklahoma)
- Evergreen Cemetery – Located on the south side of town, there are over 50,000 people interred; it is the home of the infamous 12-foot (3.7 m) tall "Jesus with cowboy boots" statue and grave marker, as well as the resting place of banker/philanthropist William J. McDonald, Confederate General/U.S. Senator Sam Bell Maxey, rancher Pitts Chisum, and cotton magnate John J. Culbertson. Pitts Chisum's more famous brother, John Chisum, is also buried in the city.
- Sam Bell Maxey House – Maxey was a Confederate general
- Culbertson Fountain
- Bywaters Park
- Pine Branch Daylily Farm – Breeding and selling of over 1,000 registered varieties.
- Paris Eiffel Tower
- Restored Courthouse and its lawn with monuments
- Downtown restored 1918ish buildings
- Trail de Paris – multi-use recreational facility along abandoned railroad corridor
- Record Park
- Public Pool & Bath House
- The second Saturday of every October amateur radio enthusiasts (ham radio operators) come to the city in large numbers to attend the annual Paris Texas Hamfest.
- On October 4, 1955, early in his career, Elvis Presley performed at the Boys Club Gymnasium at 1530 1st Street Northeast in Paris as a member of the Louisiana Hayride Jamboree tour.
- Annual Paris Art Fair sponsored by the YWCA Paris and Lamar County.
- Each July the Tour de Paris, a bicycle tour that brings many tourists, both American and European.
- Duane Allen, member of The Oak Ridge Boys
- Tia Ballard, actress for Funimation Entertainment.
- Raymond Berry, professional football Hall of Fame Member
- John Chisum, cattle baron
- Marsha Farney, Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives from Williamson County; reared in Paris, graduated from Paris Junior College, and taught school in Paris in 1990s
- Bobby Jack Floyd, National Football League fullback
- Charles R. Floyd, three-term Democratic state senator; pioneer of the Texas Farm-to-market road system and an original founder of Paris Junior College
- Cas Haley, singer/musician, NBC's Season 2 of "America's Got Talent" runner-up
- General John P. Jumper, Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force from 2001 to 2005
- Beverly Leech, actress portrayed Kate Monday on Mathnet
- Samuel Bell Maxey, United States Senator and Confederate Major General
- Gordon McLendon, pioneer radio broadcaster and founder of the Liberty Broadcasting System.
- Jay Hunter Morris, operatic tenor
- John Osteen, pastor
- Dave Philley, professional baseball player and holder of five MLB records
- Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal
- Admiral James O. Richardson, United States Navy Fleet Commander 1940–1941
- Eddie Robinson, professional baseball player and four-time all-star
- Jack Russell, professional baseball player and first relief pitcher selected to a Major League Baseball All-Star Game
- Leslie Satcher, country music recording artist
- William Scott Scudder, Major League Baseball pitcher.
- Shangela Laquifa Wadley actor, comedian, and drag queen, best known for participation on RuPaul's Drag Race seasons 2 and 3.
- Steven_H._Tallant, president of Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Physiographic Regions". Tapestry.usgs.gov. 2003-04-17. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
- Tx State Historical Commission (1978). "The Paris Fire of 1916 – Texas State Historical Marker".
- Tx State Historical Commission (1984). "Scott Mansion – Texas State Historical Marker".
- Camp Maxey, globalsecurity.org.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Weatherbase". Weatherbase. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
- "PARIS". Texas Almanac. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
- "American FactFinder". Factfinder2.census.gov. 2010-10-05. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
- "Home." Paris Public Library. Retrieved on May 15, 2010.
- "Parole Division Region I." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on May 15, 2010.
- "Post Office Location – PARIS." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 15, 2010.
- "Debutantess Of The Deep South". Shangela. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
Media related to Paris, Texas at Wikimedia Commons
- City of Paris
- Paris Texas Online
- Paris Texas Event Calendar
- Lamar County Historical Society
- Lamar County Courthouse
- Handbook of Texas Online entry
- Paris Texas information – Lamar County Station