“All Rails Lead to Main Street” is the theme for Palestine's 2008 Christmas season. The activities that are planned from Nov. 8 through Dec. 18 promise that Palestine will have its best Christmas season ever. A series of planning meetings have been held since August and many volunteers, business, and building owners attended the latest meeting on Nov. 5 at the Redlands Downtown Bistro. They and others are donating their time and resources to provide activities for children and adults of all ages. There are so many incredible activities planned for the All Rails Lead to Palestine Christmas Season, so watch for the upcoming special section of the Herald-Press featuring the many Christmas activities that are planned in Palestine.

Main Street will be decorated from the square to the Visitor Center with lights, wreaths, and bows. Volunteers are needed to help “fluff” the large Christmas wreaths and attach the big red bows to them. The Main Street Office at the Carnegie Building will host the volunteers from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Refreshments will be provided and whether you have 30 minutes or 8 hours, any time that you can contribute to help in this effort will be deeply appreciated. The bows and wreaths will be placed on public buildings and street light poles in the Main Street Area by the City of Palestine.

Some of the suggestions, scheduled events, and activities include:

• Businesses in the Main Street Area are encouraged to decorate their buildings, stay open extended hours, play holiday music, and offer refreshments, promotions and a huge smile to our guests, visitors, and patrons.

• Natural Decorations with white lights are encouraged for the businesses in the Main Street Area. Pine, magnolia, holly and cedar, all donated by individuals, will be available on Thursday, Nov. 14 at the Redlands Parking lot for decorating. We are encouraging everyone to decorate their own businesses inside and out. Please call Hugh Summers at 903-724-5800 for lighting for the roofs as he has supplies available at cost to Main Street Area businesses and building owners.

• Clean up activities are also scheduled. Owners of vacant or construction progress buildings are asked to clean windows and improve the views of the interior and exterior of the buildings by covering unsightly items in the vacant storefronts. Many of these buildings will showcase the artwork for our Student Art Show.

• Nov. 29 through Dec. 20 — Stores in Main Street will be offering special hours, open till 7 p.m. on Fridays and 6 p.m. on Saturdays, with many also open on Sunday afternoons.

• Nov 14-15 — Main Street businesses in Downtown and Old Town areas are invited to offer an open house “Deck the Halls” event in their businesses. It is a time to decorate, play Christmas music, offer specials, show new holiday merchandise, and enjoy the fun of pulling the decorations out.

• Student Art Project Exhibit — The Palestine Public Library is sponsoring the event through Main Street starting Nov 22nd and as stated above, the artwork will be displayed in many of the storefront windows.

• Christmas Decorating Contest — Businesses will be judged on their holiday displays, windows or other exhibits. Applications are available from the Palestine Convention and Visitors Bureau. The businesses must complete and return the applications to the Visitor Center in order to be judged.

• The Polar Express will be at the Texas State Railroad Nov. 8 and Nov. 15 for Champions for Children and also from Nov. 28 through Dec. 17. See the Texas State Railroad schedule or the All Rails Lead to Main Street Christmas flyer available at the Visitor Center, restaurants, retail stores, and lodging establishments throughout the city

• Nov 29 is the biggest shopping day of the year and also the opening of Santa's Workshop at 214 W. Main St. Santa will be on hand for children to visit him at his Workshop and Santa's Mailbox will be there for the young folks to mail their letters to Santa. There will be exhibits, photo opportunities, and a real holiday spirit for everyone to enjoy. Santa's Workshop will be open for four weekends and the schedule will be announced soon.

• Dec 5-7 — “Oh Little Town of Bagels, Teacakes and Hamburger Buns” will be presented by the Palestine Community Theatre. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

• Dec 6-7 — A weekend in Main Street and the Tour of Homes on Saturday and Sunday with a Bazaar in the Redlands

• Dec 6 — The City-sponsored parade will start at the square and end at the Visitor Center Depot with festivities

We have two more buildings that are nearing completion in Main Street Palestine, one being the Sacred Heart Rectory at 501 N. Queen St. Sacred Heart Catholic Church is to be commended and praised for their outstanding restoration of the facade of the house, which is believed to have been designed and built around 1921 by local architect and builder, the late C. S. Maffatt. It had gone through a series of changes over the years that had left it in need of repair and updating. Sacred Heart has painstakingly restored the façade of the front porch and new wood French doors and wood windows that duplicate the originals. The church also has completely remodeled and updated the interior of the building and built a beautiful and architecturally sensitive and compatible addition on the rear of the second floor of the house.

The other rehabbed building is located on West Crawford Street. As published in Sunday's Herald Press article by Beth Foley, “Pieces of the Past”, Tim Dunn of Vitrolite Specialist restored the façade of the 205/207 West Crawford Street building repairing and replacing the Vitrolite structural glass. The building was built around 1940 and was considered avant-garde at the time. The Art Deco Style building housed a record shop for many years in one of the storefronts, which is a type of business that has fallen victim to the high-tech computer age. The restoration of the building brought to light the many buildings that at one time had and still have the beautiful, shiny, colored glass. As Foley said in the article, the Texas Theater next door originally had the glass on its front. The owner of the building, Jean Mollard, has done a great deal toward the restoration and rehabilitation of Main Street Palestine for over thirty years. She and her late husband, Norman, are credited with starting the movement.

The November “Your Old House…or Building” program entitled, “Are There Any Organizations That Can Help Me?” will be presented at the Palestine Public Library on Nov. 20. It will focus on local, state, and federal organizations that help people with answers to their questions and solutions to the challenges that often are present with owning or rehabilitating a historic house or building. Like all of the programs, DVD's of the program will soon be available from the library.

We would like to remind everyone who is buying, selling, or planning to work on a historic house or building in Palestine to request information regarding Palestine Historic Districts and Palestine Landmarks. The Historic Preservation/Main Street Office has the resources and information that you need to make informed decisions about your project. We ask that Realtors also check with us to determine if a property is in a Palestine Historic District, if it is a Palestine Landmark, or is eligible to be designated as a local, state, or national landmark. We are always ready to assist you with your project.

If you have missed any of the previous “Your Old House…or Building” programs, you can check out a video of the program from the Palestine Public Library. For more information, questions, assistance with your project, or to comment about any of these subjects, please contact me, Neely Plumb, at 903-731-8442, 903-724-3052, or via e-mail at nplumb@palestine-tx.org.


Neely Plumb is the City of Palestine's Main Street Manager and Historic Preservation Officer.

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