The community of Paris, Texas has often endured comparisons to the City of Light, an association that has little to offer beyond the name. The other Paris was, after all, in France. But then a small yet highly successful Hollywood movie changed everything for this Texas Lakes Trail town. “Paris, Texas”, a deep and dramatic portrait of America that swept the awards at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, imbued the Paris community with a stylishly avant-garde aura all its own despite the fact that the entire movie was shot elsewhere. In reality, Paris, Texas has always had its own unique feel. Established early in 1845 under the Republic of Texas, Paris served as Lamar County seat and railroad center for over one hundred and fifty years. Paris has also burned down twice in its long history (making an unintended association with another cinema landmark “Paris is Burning”). Its Lamar County Courthouse, built a year after the second fire in 1916 and restored through the Texas historic Courthouse Preservation Program, highlights a Classical Revival design popular for the period and its marble and pink granite exterior makes for an attractive backdrop for other equally historic sites around town. The Paris plaza is anchored by a 1927 marble fountain and, facing the plaza, the restored 1926 Plaza Theater hosts popular productions of the Paris Community Theater. Down the street the Bywaters Park is home to the Paris Municipal Band, Texas longest-running municipal musical ensemble. One of the city’s most notable structures, however, is the 1867 Sam Bell Maxey House State Historic Site, a restored beauty in the dramatic High Victorian Italianate style and filled with the memorabilia of Confederate General Maxey. The Maxey family lived here for more than a century, creating a big slice of Texas history worthy of its own cinematic masterpiece.
Paris is the 2013 First Lady’s Texas Treasures Award recipient. See the story below.