While enjoying the Greenville Downtown Stroll next Saturday night, take in a few historic sites. Start at the northeast corner of the square with the Fred Ende Chapter # 87 of International Order of Odd Fellows, the second oldest fraternal group in the county. While the downstairs has served as home to such retail businesses as an old-fashioned hardware store, the original home of Citizen’s State Bank in the 1920, and currently a florist it is the wonderful turn-of-the-century architecture that is worth a glimpse.
Cross Johnson Street and notice the old Kress Building. Bob Landon did an excellent job refurbishing the exterior of the unique building, a truly successful job. I love the way he retained the wooden floors inside.
On your left is the front of the 1929 Hunt County Courthouse. This wonderful jewel was the prototype of the courthouse at Travis County in Austin. Sometime when you are downtown on a weekday from 8 to 5, drop in and look around. There is a lot of history in that building.
Across Stonewall Street is the Greenville National Exchange Building built in 1926 and later modified with three more floors. It not only served as a bank, but housed doctors, attorneys, and dentists. Today it is owned by Hunt County and used for offices.
Now look down Lee Street. You will notice that the south side of the street takes a slight jog. An early surveyor didn’t run a straight line long ago; hence the odd angle. Now cross Lee Street to the north side where the old Perkins Building is. At one time it was one of the earliest “cash stores” in the county. Later it became an elegant department store until it was converted into a unique mall. All the lumber, railings, and doors came from the original Perkins Building.
In the next block of Lee Street were some of the most fantastic women’s clothing stores in Texas. No need to run to Dallas when Skibell’s, Wolfe’s, and Tannenbaum’s were here. The Corner Street Pub was once a great shoe shop.
Of course, the Texan is in the same block. My husband and I had our first date there when it was a movie theater. Next door is the Medical Arts building, now known as the Henson Building. Virginia King had the building built after the King Opera House burned three times. Look up at the craftsmanship on the building.
Now cross Lee Street and turn right on Washington Street. In front of you is the crown jewel of Greenville – Central Christian Church. If you ever get a chance to go inside, by all means do. It is as special as the exterior.
Head east down either side of Washington and notice the Washington Hotel at the corner of St. John and Washington. Imagine dancing under the stars on the Roof Garden; or enjoying a delicious meal in the Coffee Shop. At one time you could soothe sore muscles with a Turkish bath. Yes, it is called the Cadillac Hotel today, but in it’s heyday it was the Washington and the place to be and be seen.
Now walk down to the corner of Johnson and Washington. Look at the name over the door. This is the Ende Building where Fred Ende opened a mercantile store ca. 1858. After the railroads arrived in 1880, Ende tore down his store to build an elegant hotel. Unfortunately it and a large portion of downtown Greenville burned in 1883. It took twenty years to settle insurance matters. By that time, Mr. Ende had died. But his partner James Armestead named the new building in memory of his partner and Greenville promoter.