Known as the “Oldest Town in Texas,” Nacogdoches takes immense pride in its history. In fact, the entire downtown is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Nacogdoches honors its heritage through a statue of the city’s founder, Gil Y’Barbo, and numerous historical museums, each conserving a different part of the town’s 241-year legacy. In reality, its settlement is much older—Caddo Indians arrived in this area 10,000 years prior to the city’s establishment.
A group of Caddo Indians, also known as the Hasinai, built a village 26 miles west of present-day Nacogdoches 1,200 years ago. Now part of the THC’s Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, the area was the southwestern ceremonial center for the great Mound Builder Culture. Today, the site includes a visitors center and grounds featuring two earthen mounds and one burial mound rising from the wooded Texas Forest Trail Region landscape.
Located about nine miles west of Caddo Mounds is Mission Tejas State Park, built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a commemorative representation of the 1690 Mission San Francisco de los Tejas, the first Spanish mission in the province of Texas. Also in the park is the restored Rice Family Log Home, built in 1828 and restored in 1974. The home served as a stopover for immigrants, adventurers, and local residents traveling the Old San Antonio Road across pioneer Texas. The park offers a wide variety of educational opportunities, including pioneer skills demonstrations and astronomy.
Downtown Nacogdoches, a historic Main Street city, contains antique, apparel, and gift shops, as well as studios and galleries allowing visitors to shop locally and learn about the town’s history. At the old “hitch lot” on Pearl Street is the farmers market, open every Saturday, year-round, from 8 a.m. until noon. Nacogdoches also launched a project, featured in Main Street Matters, with events hosted downtown to attract residents and visitors.
Located on the Stephen F. Austin State University campus, the Stone Fort Museum, a THC Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, is a replica structure funded from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Program. The original, created in 1779 by Nacogdoches militia commander Antonio Gil Y'Barbo, was destroyed in 1902. Inside, artifacts and exhibits showcase the history and legacy of the Texas Revolution and early East Texas leaders such as George Crocket.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the 1830 Sterne-Hoya Museum and Library was built by Adolphus Sterne, a merchant and Texas Revolution leader, before it was sold to the von der Hoya family in 1869. Now, the house depicts the Sterne occupancy during the Texas Revolution and the living conditions of the Hoya family. The interior is still furnished with antiques donated by the Hoya family.
Zion Hill Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, represents the city’s African American heritage after the Civil War. Dominated by narrow one-story shotgun houses, this district housed workers for affluent white families on Mound Street. In the center, the 1914 Gothic Revival-style Zion Hill Baptist Church unites the community.