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Anderson County Seat, East Texas

Junction of Hwy 84, 79 and 19
108 miles SE of Dallas
150 miles N of Houston
36 miles SE of Athens on Hwy 19
Population: 18,977 (2010) 17,598 (2000)

Book Hotel Here > Palestine Texas

Palestine TX - Oak Street 1917
Oak Street
1917 Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/

The Original County Seat was a town named Fort Houston. When the State declared that County Seats be at the geographic center of the county, Andersonians took them seriously and moved the two miles it required. Fort Houston melted into oblivion.

The County was named for vice-president of Texas Kenneth Lewis Anderson. There is a rumor that the city was named after Palestine, Illinois.

Palestine, Texas Landmarks/Attractions

Anderson County courthouse Palestine Texas old  photo
Photo courtesy TXDoT
Anderson County Courthouse

Texas State Railroad
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
The Texas State Railroad State Park
The Texas State Railroad

by Archie P. McDonald, PhD

The Texas State Railroad State Park & the Texas Forest Trail

Palestine is joined to nearby Rusk (25 miles) by the Texas State Railroad. This antique steam train is operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. The train operates from March to October. 1-800-442-8951 for reservations.

Murder on the Disoriented Express
In October a local theater group performs Murder on the Disoriented Express on the train. This is a fund raising effort for the Palestine Library and the tickets include a buffet dinner. Make reservations by calling 1-800-659-3484.

Palestine TX - Presbyterian Church
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
Palestine Churches

Palestine TX -  Restored Texas Theatre with neon sign
Photo by Dana Goolsby, 2011
Texas Theatre
Palestine’s Texas Theater by Bob Bowman
The Texas Theater, one of the grand old movie houses of East Texas, has been restored and is now a setting for community stage productions. The Texas is not only a landmark for Palestine...

Texas Theatre by Dana Goolsby
The crown jewel of downtown Palestine
213 W. Crawford Street

Palestine High School
400 Micheaux Ave

Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005

Museum for East Texas Culture
At 400 Micheaux Ave in Reagan Park

The museum puts to excellent use the former Palestine High School (c.1916). The Statue of John H. Reagan was sculpted by Pompeo Coppini in 1908 and was cast in Rome.

Historical marker:

Palestine High School
A public school system in Palestine was established in 1881 under control of the municipal government. The first classes were held at the old Palestine Female Institute (built in 1858), then a high school was built in 1888 at the Institute site on Avenue A. In 1915 voters passed a $100,000 bond issue for a new high school. The City Council chose this site in newly created, 22-acre Reagan Park for the campus.

Fort Worth architects Sanguinet & Staats were chosen for the design, which features Tudor Gothic -- or Jacobethan -- detail in brick, limestone, and occasional tile panels. The 2-story structure, on a raised basement, is framed with reinforced concrete, allowing ample window space for air and light. The original plan included eight lecture rooms, a library, a gymnasium, laboratories, and an auditorium.

A principal and 10 teachers comprised the first faculty, and the first graduating class in 1917 contained 38 students. This building became a junior high in 1939, and was named in 1955 for John Henninger Reagan (1818-1905), Texas statesman and Palestine resident. Elementary grades were assigned here from 1966 to 1976, when the school was closed. The building was then preserved and rehabilitated as a museum and cultural center.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1986

Palestine Texas High School
Palestine High School building
Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005
More Texas Schools
John H. Reagan Memorial, Palestine, Texas
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, 2009
John Henniger Reagan
& The John H. Reagan Memorial

Howard House Museum
at 1011 N. Perry Street. A Texas Historic Landmark, the house was built in the mid-1800s and bought by the city in 1963. Open Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 to 5:00, group tours by appointment.

Carnegie Library in Palestine Tx

TE photo

Palestine Carnegie Library
502 North Queen.
502 N. Queen St., Palestine

Historical marker:
Outgrowth of 1853 effort by Judge John Graham Gooch to see circulating library established in Palestine, at first lending his own books. Original city library was replaced by this structure, built 1914 with aid from the Carnegie Foundation.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1970

Federal Building Palestine Texas
Palestine Post Office and Federal Building
101 E. Oak St.
National Register of Historic Places
Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005
Historical Marker

Palestine Post Office and Federal Building

Land at this site was purchased in 1907 from St. Philip's Episcopal Church for a new post office for Palestine. Architects Deacon Armiger and Dunplap, under the supervision of U. S. Treasury architect James Knox Taylor, drew the plans, and construction took place between 1911 and 1913.

Located in Palestine's commercial district, the new post office building was an imposing addition to the downtown and prominently affirmed the presence of the federal government in Palestine. Other federal offices also were located in the building, including the Selective Service office and the National Weather Bureau's reading station.

The Palestine post office vacated the building in 1962; thereafter, until 1987, it was used solely for the offices of various federal agencies. After the General Services Administration declared the building surplus to its needs, the county of Anderson, in search of additional space for county workers, stepped in to preserve the historic building. The property transfer to Anderson County took place in 1990.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, the Palestine Post Office and Federal Building remains a significant part of Palestine's architectural heritage. (2001)

Anderson County jail, Palestine, Texas
Anderson County Jail
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2006
More Texas Jails

Palestine TX Haunted Memorial Hospital
Photo by Dana Goolsby, October 2010
The Haunting of Old Memorial Hospital In Palestine
by Dana Goolsby

"The old hospital has been abandoned as a care facility, however locals claim the facility has not been entirely deserted. Supernatural tales have lived within the old hospital far prior to the closing of the facility...." more

Texas -  Anderson County Poor Farm  building
Photo by Dana Goolsby, 2011
The Anderson County Poor Farm
by Dana Goolsby

"[I]n 1884, Anderson County finally obtained its poor farm. The county paid $2,700 for approximately 462 acres, located south of Palestine on Sycamore Road. This acreage was part of 800 acres originally patented to Stephen Crist on May 21, 1835. ...more"

Ivanhoe Building Palestine Texas
The Ivanhoe Building
Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005

Palestine, Texas Natural Attractions

  • Dogwood
    Late March and early April is a wonderful time to visit. Anderson County has some of the nicest rolling hills and dogwood trees bloom in profusion just before the deciduous trees leaf out.
  • Davey Dogwood Park
    Just north of town is Davey Dogwood Park, 200 acres of streams, trees and winding roads. The perfect place for a spring picnic. For information on current conditions call Texas Dogwood Trails Inc. at 903-729-7275.
  • Wisteria Trail
    Palestine is also on the unofficial East Texas "Wisteria Trail."
  • Palestine Community Forest
    There's another 700 acres in Palestine Community Forest. Just NW of town, this park offers memorable autumn views due to the proliferation of Sweetgum and Yaupon Trees.
  • Lake Palestine
    Over 25,000 acres. Marina and swimming beach. Twenty miles north.
  • Concord
    "The countryside around Montalba, north of Palestine in Anderson County, is among the most beautiful in East Texas with its small mountains, winding roads and scenic streams..."
  • Book Hotel Here > Palestine Texas
  • Trip

    Sunday Drive

    Palestine: Old homes, fruit cakes, and stained glass windows

    Excerpted from "The East Texas Sunday Drive Book" by Bob Bowman

    The focal point of this Sunday Drive is Palestine, the county seat of Anderson County and a town whose history parallels the arrival of the railroad in the l870s. But you'll also have the opportunity to see some excellent rural scenery.

    Start your Sunday Drive with a tour of downtown Palestine. The Chamber of Commerce offers an excellent walking tour guide which will carry you to several points of interest, including:.... next page

    Palestine, Texas History and Features
  • A Steamboat’s Tale by Bob Bowman
    "Lying in the Trinity River at Parker’s Bluff, near Palestine, a cluster of remnants from an old sidewheeler steamboat serve as reminders of an era when cotton was king in much of East Texas...."
  • Almost a Houston (Fort Houston) by Bob Bowman
  • Palestine: Old homes, fruit cakes, and stained glass windows by Bob Bowman
  • The Texas State Railroad and the Texas Forest Trail
  • The Texas State Railroad by Archie P. McDonald, PhD
  • The Gem Picture Palace and Other 1920s Charms by Sandy Fiedler
  • "Voice of East Texas" East Texas feature stories by Sandy Fiedler from Palestine
  • Texas’ Oldest Bakery Ships Thousands of Pounds of Holiday Desserts by Dana Goolsby
    The oldest bakery in Texas - Eilenberger’s Bakery, located in historic downtown Palestine.
  • The Redlands Hotel at 400 North Queen. Now a nostalgic galleria of specialty shops, the old hotel thrived from 1915 to 1918 and then served as an office building for the next four decades.
  • Book Hotel Here > Palestine Hotels

  • Country Legend Gene Watson by Bob Bowman
    Someone once asked country singing legend Ray Price to name his favorite singers. Price paused a minute and finally said, “I have too many to name, but Gene Watson would be right at the top.” But Watson--who was born in Palestine and raised in Paris--is such a low-keyed individual that he considers singing “just something I like to do,” like working on cars in his shop....
  • The 40-minute de facto president by Mike Cox


  • The note-in-a-bottle in Trinity River
  • (From Mike Cox's "Texas Tales")
    Palestine, Texas Vintage Photos
    Missouri Pacific passenger depot in Palestine, Texas
    Missouri Pacific Passenger Depot circa 1953, razed
    On Spring Street, Palestine, Texas

    Photo courtesy Maurice Higginbotham
    Palestine TX - Spring Park Lake
    Spring Park Lake and Club House
    1911 postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
    Palestine TX Spring Park Lake
    View of Spring Park Lake from Club House
    1913 postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
    Palestine TX - White Way Spring Street at night
    The White Way, Spring Street, at night
    1921 Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
    Palestine TX New Temple Theatre
    New Temple Theatre
    1914 Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
    Palestine Texas city hall postcard
    Palestine City Hall
    Old postcard TE archives
    Palestine Texas street scene postcard
    Sycamore Street
    Old postcard TE archives
    Palestine TX - Anderson County Fair
    "Anderson County Fair, Palestine Texas,
    annually in October since 1925"

    Postcard ca 1950 courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/

    Nearby Destinations
  • Anderson County Towns
  • Hwy 287 northwest 59 miles to Corsicana on I-45, then I-45 north on to Rice, Ennis and Dallas; or from Corsicana take Hwy 31 west to Kerens, Malokoff, and Athens.
  • Hwy 19 North 36 miles to Athens.
  • Hwy 19 South 36 miles to Crockett.
  • Hwy 84 East 31 miles to Rusk
  • Palestine Tourist Information
  • Palestine Convention and Visitor Bureau
    825 Spring Street, Palestine, TX 75801
    903-723-3014 or 800-659-3484
  • Palestine Chamber of Commerce
    401 W. Main Street
    Book Hotel Here >Palestine Texas

  • Palestine Texas Forum

  • Subject: It is wonderful town!
    I was reading all the wonderful stories on my hometown of Palestine, Texas and it made me glad to be from a small town. It was great place to grow up and still is to this day. When I travel my mind often return to Palestine. I am now forty years old and I still get lump in my throat when at dusk the light come on Ave A all the way to the Anderson County Courthouse on top of the hill as it stand there in all it beauty. - Rodney Paul Smith, Palestine,TX, April 12, 2007
    This page for Palestine, Texas sponsored by: Sandy Fiedler 10/01 5,00

  • Palestine, Texas Area Destinations:
    Anderson County Towns | East Texas
    Book Hotel Here >
    Palestine Hotels | More Hotels

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