Dozens of visitors took a stroll through history Saturday as they participated in the Gregg County Historical Museum’s first Historic Walking Tour of Downtown Longview.
The fundraiser was planned as a safer alternative after the museum’s annual Landmarks of Longview home tour was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We usually have our Landmarks of Longview home tours and we go into people’s houses,” museum Executive Director Lindsay Loy said earlier. “But because that is not an option this year, we decided to rethink the home tour situation and came up with the historical new downtown walking tour.”
Participants left the museum on foot in groups of 10 or fewer to take the stroll of just more than 1 mile, all the while learning about the history and architecture of downtown. Guests walked to the Longview Post Office on Methvin Street, where they learned about the building’s construction in 1939 and the 1942 mural featured in its lobby.
Jason Hawkins, who took the tour with his wife, said he remembered the mural from when he was “just a little tyke.”
“When I was growing up, my mom always had a P.O. box so I remember seeing it,” said the lifelong Longview resident, “I’ve seen it all my life, but I never really knew the history behind it.”
From there, participants strolled to Alton Plaza/Petroleum Building built in 1953, then to the Art Deco-styled Gregg County Courthouse and to the English Gothic-inspired First Presbyterian Church.
The Central Fire Station on Center Street was next, as participants took photos with an antique firetruck on display and took part in a guided tour by Fire Chief J.P. Steelman.
Guests wrapped up the trek near the location of the 1894 Dalton Gang bank robbery on Fredonia Street and finally with a visit to the VeraBank building.
Hawkins said he and his wife were happy to find out about the tour.
“We love history,” he said while taking photos of the antique fire truck, “it was a beautiful day, and it was something to do to get out and maybe learn some things we didn’t know.”