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Downtown Mesquite History

From Rails to Revitalization

Mesquite Depot and Telegraphic, ca 1890-1900. Photo courtesy Historic Mesquite 

Downtown Mesquite’s history can be traced back to 1873 when Texas and Pacific Railroad Agent A.R. Alcott filed in Dallas County for the first plat for the township of Mesquite. Just a few months later, the train was traveling from Shreveport to Dallas, causing quite a stir among the new citizens. The origin of the city’s name is a mystery, though many speculate it was due to an abundance of mesquite trees in the area.

During the 1870s, wood-framed business properties faced Front Street, which became the first street in the central part of the community. The town itself boasted a depot, saloon, blacksmith shop, confectionary, post office and four homes. Fourteen years would pass until the town sought incorporation. An election was held on Dec. 3, 1887, and voters approved Mesquite as only the second community outside of Dallas to incorporate (Lancaster was the first). Elections in April 1888 saw J.E. Russell voted in as mayor.

A new brick plant opening west of town gave strength to the desire to replace older wooden structures with “modern” brick buildings. Concurrent was the desire to create an official town square, which resulted in the front entry to downtown buildings being re-oriented toward the square, which today lies between Davis and Main streets.

Over the decades, war, economic boom and bust, sprawl, population growth and cultural changes molded downtown over the years. This historic heart of the community remains as the authentic center of Mesquite. Now, as the revitalization of Downtown Mesquite gains traction, it is that entrepreneurial spirit that we draw from to build the new chapters ahead.


Images: Holley McWhorter Greenhaw Collection/Frank W. Greenhaw Archives, Dallas Public Library, Texas Dallas Division, used by permission
Looking east to west on present-day Main Street.
Downtown Mesquite Christmas parade, 1953. Looking west to east along present-day Main Street.
South side of Downtown Mesquite along Davis Street, looking east to west. Note the Texan theater in the far background.
A hearty welcome to Downtown Mesquite!
Photo with the former train depot along Front Street in the background (looking west to east).
Downtown business district ca. 1890, looking south.
Crowd with bales of cotton in front of today's Broad Street. The corner building at right-center is the present-day location of Dos Panchas restaurant.
This building at today's 117 W. Main St. was built in the 1930s at Noble Brothers Grocery.

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