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Paris (Lamar County)

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Paris, the county seat of Lamar County, is located fifteen miles south of the Red River on a vegetation boundary line separating the Piney Woods region of northeast Texas from the Blackland Prairie that extends southwest. The Red River Valley originally was home to the Kadohadacho Confederacy of the Caddo Nation, where permanent villages surrounded by well-cultivated fields were typical. Anglo-American settlement in the area began as early as 1815. By 1840, population growth necessitated a new county, which was named after Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas, who forcibly removed the Caddo and other tribes from east Texas to make way for new settlement. The town’s location on the Central National Road of the Republic of Texas and the ridgeline between the Red and Sulphur rivers provided it with symbolic prominence. Along with seven other counties to the immediate west, Lamar County voted against secession in early 1861. The arrival of the Texas and Pacific Railway in 1875 and the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway in 1887 secured the city’s preeminent position as a regional cotton processing and shipping center.

In 1914, the Paris Board of Trade and Progressive Club engaged W. H. Dunn, a landscape architect and planner from Kansas City, to prepare a plan for the city’s anticipated growth. This undertaking was likely influenced by the publication in 1911 of a city plan for Dallas, prepared by George E. Kessler of Missouri. Dunn’s recommendations included the creation of a park on S. Main Street (now Bywaters Park), the relocation of the public market from the town square to 400 1st Street SW (now Market Square Farmer’s Market), and a site for a future library. A catastrophic fire on March 21–22, 1916, destroyed thirty blocks of the city, including the courthouse (MC36). The subsequent new buildings show the influence of the City Beautiful movement and national fashionable styles. By 1920, reconstruction of the business district was largely complete.

In honor of Paris’s eponym, a replica (2025 S. Collegiate Drive) of the Eiffel Tower was built in 1993 by the Boilermakers Union 902. A red cowboy hat was added to the sixty-five-foot-tall tower in 1998.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.

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