Bell County, Central
31°6'30"N 97°23'21"W (31.108381, -97.389125)
I-35 and Highways 190, 95 and 53
9 miles NE of Belton the
65 miles N of Austin
34 miles S of Waco
126 miles S of Dallas
27 miles E of Killeen
Population: 82,073 (2020)
66,102 (2010) 54,514 ( 2000) 46,109 (1990)
| Locomotive at
Temple's recently restored Santa Fe Depot
We would bet that over the years there have been arguments over Temple's
being the seat of Bell County.
People passing through the center of downtown and not paying close
attention could easily swear they saw the courthouse. That's because
the Municipal Building sits exactly where one would expect
a courthouse to be. It more than resembles a courthouse and is more
imposing than many courthouses we could name.
Landmarks & Attractions
Fe Depot Railroad and Heritage Museum in Temple
TE Photo, October 2000
Depot Railroad and Heritage Museum
The dazzlingly new Santa Fe Depot Railroad and Heritage Museum is
a short walk from the square at 315 West Avenue B (across from the
police station). It is also a functioning station, with two trains
Tuesday - Saturday 10:00 to 4:00, Sundays 12:00 to 4:00.
Construction on the Santa Fe Depot began in August 1909, and was
completed January 29, 1911. The initial cost was more than $200,000.
The depot is a textbook example of Prairie-Beaux Arts architecture.
It is featured in Jay C. Henry's Architecture in Texas 1895 - 1945,
University of Texas Press, 1993. Worthy of note is the Santa Fe's
trademark - a cross in a circle - here formed by common brick.
In 1989 Santa Fe vacated the building, but AMTRAK stayed until the
early 90's. When they left, the building was totally abandoned.
In 1995 the City of Temple purchased the building and roughly 8
acres of land around the depot. A grant application was submitted
in 1996 for funds from the Texas Department of Transportation. The
$2.4 Million was approved for the depot's restoration which began
in September 1999, and was completed in August 2000.
Hotels > Book Hotel Here
thanks to Museum Archivist Craig Ordner for supplying us with the
above information for the depot.
Santa Fe Depot
formerly of Moody, Texas
In addition to the new Railroad & Heritage Museum previously
mentioned, Temple also has the Santa Fe Depot from the McClennan
County town of Moody. Plans have been made to move this
depot to the site of the new museum early next year, perhaps before.
It is possible that it would be converted into a restaurant. All
of it's exhibits have been moved to the new museum and is not open
to the public at this time. Here's a photo to satisfy your curiosity
in case you've read this far.
Temple street scene
A fine example of creative preservation
Downtown Temple also has a somewhat busy, but well executed mural
one and a half blocks south of the square.
The big preservation news is the stabilized facades just south
and east of the square. Several old buildings were in such disrepair
that they had to go. The brickwork on the upper portion of the buildings
was worth saving though, so with ingenuity, hard work and the desire
to save what they could, they came up with a solution that many other
towns in Texas could benefit from.
Hotels Book Hotel Here
Temple's Hotel Doering, later known as the Hotel Hawn.
TE postcard archive
to the fascinating history of the Hotel Kyle, Temple had
another major hotel just a few blocks away.
Temple's Doering Hotel
aka The Hotel Hawn
Hotels > Book Hotel Here
Texas Theatre in
Arcadia] was the most popular theatre in town - which meant it had
the biggest crowds." ... more
TE Photo, October 2000
Next to the Doering, sits the entrance to the Arcadia Theater. We
didn't say the theater was there; we said the entrance was. That's
because one would enter here and walk back the length of the hotel
until one reached the viewing area.
Current efforts are being made toward the restoration of the Arcadia
Tunnels and the shooting of "Snub"
We talked with the owner of The Book Cellar Bob Jones, and learned
quite a bit about downtown. The The Book Cellar is on the South side
of the "square" and, as the name suggests, it's below street level.
The address is 3 West Central and their phone number is 254-773-7545.
(They have a good under-priced Texana section, but don't tell everybody).
Mr. Jones has filed away many of the stories of early Temple told
to him by his customers, who remember when the Cellar was a speakeasy.
Bob has heard the story many times of the shooting of a man with the
unglamorous name of "Snub." Snub was shot, but managed to catch a
taxi to King's Daughter's Hospital where he pulled though. There was
at least one killing there -"right about where non-fiction is
now." Maybe it's true - maybe not. Truth is sometimes stranger
(Reader's Email: In the section about the cellar bookstore...... The
name of that bookstore is "The Book Cellar" My kids think it's a real
treat to go there! I enjoy your website! - Paula Jones, August 06,
Temple Tunnels: Myth or Fact?
While we're on the subject of non-fiction vs. fiction - Mr. Jones
told us of a tunnel system that runs through several blocks of downdown.
It seems that the old Temple High School generated enough steam from
their boilers to sell the surplus to other downtown buildings, including
the Kyle and Doering Hotels and the Arcadia Theater. The pipes were
of course underground. Steam through iron pipe means condensation
and rust and so tunnels were dug alongside the pipes for maintenance.
Several entrances to these tunnels were scattered around the downtown
area - one of them under the sidewalk next to the front door of The
Cellar Bookstore. It is now bricked up and padlocked. Jones had an
older man tell him that as a boy he knew the way from the basement
of the Kyle to the backstage area of the Arcadia. Other citizens of
Temple dismiss these stories as fiction. We have a feeling these people
were the ones that had to pay full price to see the movies.
Carnegie Library in Temple, Texas
Temple built its library in 1902. Although this building burned in
1918 it is partially responsible for the well oiled machine that is
the Temple Library today. ... more
Creek by Clay Coppedge
"... Part of Bell County history and mythology centers on John
Bird who was felled by an arrow fired from 200 yards away at the Battle
of Bird's Creek in what is now the middle of Temple. The creek - really
a ravine - where the battle happened was named in Bird's honor, posthumously.
If the Indians had won, the creek probably would have been named for
the archer..." more
and the POWs by Clay Coppedge
Mildred "Lanky" Lancaster
"Her contributions to women's sports in Central Texas have been
immeasurable. The softball field at Temple High School was dedicated
in her honor last year."
Girls by Delbert Trew
"A fact most significant to the history of the West is that approximately
100,000 girls signed up to work for Fred Harvey from 1901 to about
"My mother was a Harvey Girl, working approximately two years
in the Harvey House Restaurant in Temple." more
of the Hill by Clay Coppedge
Rumors that the fictional town of Arlen, home of the characters on
the Fox TV show "King of the Hill," is inspired by or based on Temple
have been not exactly rampant, but they are at least persistent...
See Bell County
I-35 South 9 miles to Belton,
furthur to Salado
I-35 South 50 miles to Austin
I-35 North 36 miles to Waco
Hwy 36 NW 15 miles to the ghost town of The
Temple Tourist Information
2 N. 5th (76501) PO Box 158 (76503) Temple, Texas
Phone: (254) 773-2105 | Fax: (254) 773-0661
& Convention Bureau - 254-298-5720
2 North Main Street
Hotel Here > Temple
Jayton and Temple Tractor Factories
Looking for Information on either the Piasa Tractor Company of
Texas or the Prairie Queen Tractor Mfg. Company of Temple,
Texas. The Jayton company was incorporated in 1913 to build tractors,
but no other information is known. As far as the Prairie Queen Tractor
Company of Temple, In the early 1920s, the Prairie Queen 8-16 tractor
(using a Gray Victory engine), appeared on the market, but for unknown
reasons it left the market in or after 1922. It was priced at $765.
Other than that no other details about the company or its tractor
have been located. - Jim White, Liberty Hill, Texas, September 16,
Hotel in Temple, Tx
This is an update on the Kyle Hotel in Temple Tx. It was renovated
in 1991 to be used for housing for the elderly, handicapped-disabled,
and low income households. Residents pay 30% of their adjusted income
per month. Each apartment is furnished with a stove and refrigerator
in the kitchen. Central air and heat is supplied. All bills--utilities,
water, sewer, garbage--are included in the rent. Cable, phone, Internet
are the responsibility of each resident, as desired. There are 64
apartments in the building. They consist of 1 and 2 bedrooms and
efficiency size apartments. These apartments are unfurnished. I
moved in to The Kyle in 1991, moved out for one year, returned to
The Kyle, and have been living here since. We have Meals-on-Wheels
lunches here Monday through Friday. We enjoy conversation in the
lobby, pool and ping-pong, music, cards, checkers, and dominoes
in the "Game Room". We celebrate birthdays each month with cake
and ice cream and have potluck suppers on special days--holidays.
We have "Saturday Morning Brunches" with coffee, hot chocolate,
and donuts and "Movie Night" every other Wednesday, with popcorn,
drinks, and sandwiches. We have fund raisers several times a year
to help defray the costs of parties, dinners, movies, and other
various activities. All in all we are a Community--made up of many
different individuals from many different backgrounds and customs.
But we are in a sense a Family too. We care about each person that
lives in The Kyle by checking on them if they have not be seen for
a day or two. We make sure that each person has food, clothing,
and other necessities. If one of us is in need of something that
someone else cannot or does not have, we will help that person in
need to locate it through an agency what is needed. I do enjoy living
here and will do so as long as my health holds out. Thank you for
including The Kyle Building in your website. - Karen Lary, The Kyle
Hotel Building, Temple, Texas, June 15 2004
What a joy it was for me to read about my hometown, Temple, Texas.
The photos brought back many wonderful memories.
I was born in the Scott & White Hospital (1943) when it was between
Ave M and the Santa Fe Rail Road tracks. My dad was an employee
of the Santa Fe Roundhouse and worked on the steam engines. We lived
in an rock house that still stands in the shadow of the South
Side Water Tower, one of two towers Temple had at the time.
When I was in Temple High school, I landed my first job. My best
friend and I worked for the Temple Theater as cashiers. Her
uncle owned the Texas and Arcadia. The work consisted
of one shift on Thursday and Friday and two on Saturday and Sunday.
I worked three shifts and saw some great movies. One was "Porgy
and Bess". I guess I remember it because it was the first all Black
film I had seen - and it was a musical.
When the Arcadia needed relief cashiers we were asked to
work. I was scared to work the Arcadia because it was the most popular
theatre in town - which meant it had the biggest crowds. This meant
I'd have to do a better job than at the Texas. I saw movies at the
Arcadia like "Pillow Talk", "Picnic" and I even saw my first 3-D
movie there. The name of the movie escapes me, but I remember wearing
the glasses and the arrows coming out of the screen straight at
me. The Municipal building stood in the center of town and I remember
sketching it on slow days. It was the only important building I
could see from the cashier's booth.
The locomotive that is on display in Temple today was the
one that took us to California. My father's passes were only for
chair cars so we had to sleep in our seats. Fortunately, I met some
people my own age and we explored the whole train from the club
car clear back to the end where we watched the tracks disappear
from view. It was my first lesson in perspective.
I haven't gone back to Temple since my mother passed away, but my
memories of growing up in that wonderful town will stay with me
forever. - Linda (Thomas) Hass, La Grange, Texas, January, 2004
I can not begin
to tell you how pleased I was to see the marque of the Arcadia
a feature and to learn it is being restored. Many, many summer afternoons,
my sister and I went to Temple with my father. He was going to the
cattle auctions and we went to the movie at the Arcadia. I have
fond memories of those days. Yes, I remember the long aisle leading
into the screen room - where the curtains were pulled and the movie
began. We saw Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy, Jean Harlow,
Katherine Hepburn, Lana Turner and all the wonderful old movie stars
entertain us for an afternoon We lived at Blevins (in Falls County)
and just going to Temple was a treat - but going to the movie a
joy. I hope to see more of the Arcadia in future issues. Thank you.
Lena Stone Criswell (Albuquerque, NM), Saturday, May 19, 2001
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