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Editorial: Landmarks of Longview tour puts giant of city's history in spotlight

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Even if you haven’t heard of B.W. Crain Jr., if you live in Longview, you’re likely familiar with the legacy of brick and steel he left behind.

Crain, an architect who designed some of the city’s most recognizable structures in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, is a behind-the-scenes giant of Longview’s history.

But an event this weekend aims to shine a well-deserved spotlight onto Crain’s work.

Six of the structures he designed are featured on the Landmarks of Longview Architectural Tour, which continues today.

Born in 1914, Crain left Longview to study architecture at the University of Texas at Austin and then earned his master’s degree at Harvard University, according to information from the Gregg County Historical Museum. Crain’s burgeoning career was interrupted by World War II, and he joined the Navy before serving in the Pacific.

After the war, Crain joined the architectural firm of Wilson and Morris in Houston, eventually becoming a partner.

But he returned to Longview in 1948, and Crain, continuing to work with his Houston architectural firm, began to leave a lasting imprint on his hometown.

Some of the structures Crain and his firm designed in Longview, according to the historical museum, include the First State Bank Building, Longview National Bank, the sanctuaries of First Baptist Church and Trinity Episcopal Church, the Petroleum Building, Gregg Memorial Hospital and City Hall and police department.

Outside of Longview, Crain also designed the Frank Erwin Center on the southeastern corner of the UT Austin campus.

He passed away in 1995.

Another of Crain’s legacies in Longview is the Crain Foundation, which was led by his wife, Ann Lacy Crain, until her death in 2015. The foundation has supported numerous endeavors, including helping make the renovations and purchase of the Longview World of Wonders building on Tyler Street possible for the nonprofit organization.

The Crains also purchased the Everett Building on Fredonia Street in 1979 where the historical museum is housed as a donation to the Gregg County Historical Foundation.

It’s likely Crain is one of many towering figures in our city’s history unknown to many of its residents. And that’s a shame.

It’s native sons such as him who built the lasting foundation of Longview.

The Landmarks of Longview tour continues 1 to 5 p.m. today. Stops on the tour are:

The Petroleum Building (now Alton Plaza apartment complex) at 202 E. Whaley St.;

The former Longview National Bank and Regions Bank building (and future home of the Longview Museum of Fine Arts) at 213 N. Fredonia St.;

The Gossum Home at 603 E. Melton St. in the Historic Mobberly District;

Mrs. Barbara Thomas Pool’s home at 1111 Hillcrest Drive;

Trinity Episcopal Church at 906 Padon St.; and

First Baptist Church of Longview at 209 E. South St.

Tickets are $25 and available at any location on the tour. For information, go to gregghistorical.org/landmarks-of-longview .

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