GLADEWATER – Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Friendship too.
One weekday in June, a group of six women from here and abroad gathered for an afternoon of antiques and friendship in downtown Gladewater.
“It’s like browsing through our memories,” said Susan Taylor, as she walked through the Round Up Antique Mall, one of Gladewater’s dozens of antique stores.
Taylor, from Odessa, and four of her friends – Trisha Upchurch from Lago Vista, Lana Henley from Lubbock, Jule Tyler from Dripping Springs, and Carol Henry from Clowcroft, New Mexico – visited eastern Texas to stay with their friend. Alice Hutchings at her lake house on Bob Sandlin Lake. The women, friends for decades, meet up every year to meet again.
This year marked the first time they’ve visited Gladewater’s antique district together, but they’re not alone. With its plethora of antique stores, Gladewater attracts thousands of visitors from Texas and the United States each year.
“Our customers come from all over,” said Linda Harrison, owner of Yesterday’s Treasures at Gladewater. “If you look at the guest register, you will see that they are from all states. “
Indeed, a couple visiting that day in June had come from Michigan.
The reason is simple: with its classic charm and warm hospitality, Gladewater is a great destination for antiques.
While many communities felt the effects of the Great Depression, Gladewater – like many other cities in east Texas – did not because the oil boom happened around the same time. strengthening the economy of East Texas.
However, the recession of the 1980s hit many small communities hard, including Gladewater.
At that time, many big box stores closed in smaller communities and moved to larger cities where indoor malls continued to gain popularity.
This left many buildings vacant in Gladewater and other small communities.
“I had owned the Western Auto store here since 1969 in this same building. At that time, Gladewater had a lot of businesses, ”recalls Harrison. “They all just shut down. I was pretty much the last to go.
In 1986, Beth and Cecil Bishop purchased one of the empty buildings in downtown Gladewater and started the Gladewater Antique Mall. With the encouragement of Beth Bishop, many others have opened antique stores in downtown Gladewater.
Harrison opened Yesterday’s Treasures in January 1995 and had filled its shop with vendors by March of that year.
In 1995, the Texas 74th Legislature’s House of Representatives began to take note of the development of downtown Gladewater. They named Gladewater the “Ancient Capital of East Texas” on May 24, 1995.
With dozens of antique stores carrying items from over 100 vendors, downtown Gladewater has quickly established itself as a destination.
Today, thousands and thousands of people visit the city every year. Many are collectors, although some simply scour stores for items that remind them of a bygone era.
When Hutchings brought his group of friends to Gladewater, they made the trip a one-day experience. And it’s easy to do in downtown Gladewater.
Start the day by visiting antique shops, then head to a downtown restaurant, such as Buttercups Bakery and Café, for lunch. Visit other antique stores after a meal, or on a Friday or Saturday afternoon, head to the Gladewater Museum for a bit of local history on the town Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash once performed in.