An historic northeast Texas point of entry, Texarkana remains a preeminent portal
(Photo by Park Street)
By Marty Lange
Long a fun, familiar gateway to the Lone Star State, Texarkana partners a fascinating history with multiple modern attractions to make a distinctive destination. Though metro Texarkana overlaps the border of Texas and Arkansas, nearby Louisiana and Oklahoma create a geographic, jigsaw-puzzled, four corners. Elements as disparate as Native American trails, the nearby Red River, railroads (check out old Union Station), cotton and all things commerce shaped this two-towns-for-the-price-of-one. No other twin cities compare with this particular pair. The convergence is unmistakably Texarkana, and as the water tower proudly proclaims: Twice as Nice.
Music fills the air here, and has for generations. Arts impresario Nita Fran Hutcheson of the Italian Renaissance-style Perot Theatre (opened as the Saenger in 1924 and renovated in 1979-80) recalls an impressive number of appearances by stars such as Harry Belafonte, Cary Grant, Misha Dichter and the Warsaw Philharmonic, and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble. The building dates to the heyday of vaudeville, while it continues to stage modern musical and theatrical acts of all genres.
On the Arkansas side of town, the historic Municipal Auditorium (now a City Hall/Fire Station) once hosted the likes of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash in their primes. It’s part of the “Texarkana USA Driving Tour.” Pick up a CD guide at the Chamber of Commerce office at 819 North State Line Avenue. The easy driving tour, taken at your own speed, includes the State Line Federal Courthouse/Post Office, the Museum of Regional History (with a piano that Scott Joplin played), the Perot Theatre, the Joplin mural, and the Regional Arts Center (marvel at the beautiful arched windows and working antique elevator). There’s also the Discovery Place Children’s Museum, the shamrock-configured, 1885 Draughon-Moore Ace of Clubs House (make time for curator Melissa Nesbitt’s informative tour and see 500 pairs of Olivia Moore’s shoes from Neiman Marcus!), numerous additional noteworthy historic homes and churches, the Tex-Ark Antique Auto Museum, and more.
From the January 2010 issue.