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History of Terrell

A City Rich in History

This growing city embraces small town values, American ideals, a strong Texas work ethic and a stellar quality of life for our citizens. Terrell is a progressive community with deep Texas roots.  Established in 1873, many families have lived here for generations and businesses have prospered for decades. You can see that heritage in the architecture throughout the city and sense it in our attitude. In Terrell America, it’s all about community. We know our neighbors. We know the folks with whom we do business. We know our kids’ friends, their friends’ parents, and their teachers.

Terrell started as a depot town along the Texas and Pacific Railway when ‘King Cotton’ was the cash crop. Today, it is the principal commercial center of Kaufman County with friendly neighborhoods, a historic downtown, thriving business parks, airport and a variety of cultural activities. Stroll our vibrant turn-of-the-century Historic Downtown District that retains the charm of yesteryear with vintage lighting, wide brick sidewalks and unique storefronts featuring timeless architectural details. The updated buildings have been repurposed for retail, restaurants, offices, lofts, museums and specialty services. The City of Terrell in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce / Convention and Visitors Bureau have made a commitment to enhance the urban activity taking place in the Historic Downtown District. New wayfinding kiosks, custom sign toppers, display banners and plentiful parking make it easier to find merchants’ goods and services. Spectacular hand-painted wall murals provide a visual snapshot of Terrell’s rich history.

We preserve our unique history at the family-friendly Annual Heritage Jubilee and Terrell Heritage Museum in the Carnegie Library. The 100-acre Ben Gill Park offers residents a multitude of recreational activities with its softball and baseball complexes, lighted tennis courts, sand volleyball, Olympic-size swimming pool, water slides, kiddie pool, pavilion, gazebo, hiking trail and a 2.5-acre lake.

Established in 1883, the Terrell Independent School District (TISD) has a proud history of providing quality education to all students. The TISD has received six Academic Achievement Distinctions in three of our schools from the Texas Education Agency (TEA). In May 2018, TISD opened a state-of-the-art facility called the Excellence Center for Enhanced Learning (ExCEL). ExCEL is an 89,000 square foot facility that includes an indoor soccer field, basketball and volleyball courts, classrooms, a bistro, an indoor walking track, and a workout facility for senior citizens and TISD staff. The purpose of ExCEL is to provide high-quality opportunities for our youth to enhance their education, athletic skills, character, and their lives. Also, TISD, in partnership with Trinity Valley Community College (TVCC), offers free Dual Credit college courses for high school students. Students can earn college credits up to an associate degree from TVCC when they graduate from high school.

The Jamie Foxx Performing Arts center hosts virtually all TISD school music and drama events and a wide range of professional concerts featuring renowned artists from all over the globe. It is also home to the E! Terrell Entertainment Series and Lake Country Gospel Jubilee Productions.

Terrell is home to more than 5,000 manufacturing and distribution jobs and 3,000 non-industrial positions. Major employers and recent major developments include: Walmart Distribution Center, Nucor, AutoZone Distribution Center, Goodyear, Innocor, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, Longhorn Metal Fabricators, VEKA, Maines Paper & Food Service, Madix, Steelway International, Walmart Supercenter, The Home Depot, Tanger Outlet Center, American National Bank, Baylor Scott & White Family Medical Center, Beall’s, Crossroads at Terrell/Terrell Market Center, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, Tru by Hilton, Hobby Lobby, Marshall’s, Petco, Spec’s Wine, Buc-ee’s Travel Plaza and Film Alley Movie Entertainment Center.                 

Terrell Municipal Airport at the junction of I-20, U.S. 80, and SH 34 is easily accessible from both East Texas and the Dallas Metroplex. The airport is an integral part of the Terrell community, providing facilities for corporate and recreational aviation, flight training, aerial inspections and special events. The city hosts the Annual Flights of Our Fathers Fly-In, benefiting the on-site No. 1 British Flying Training School (BFTS) Museum. Terrell Municipal Airport was the site of the No. 1 British Flight Training School (No. 1 BFTS), the first US location to host flight training for the Royal Air Force during WWII. More than 2,000 Royal Air Force and American Army Air Force pilots earned their wings at this airfield during WWII. The Airport was also recognized by the Texas Department of Transportation as the 2014 General Aviation Airport of the Year.

Terrell not only has a Veterans Memorial Park to honor the memory of the community’s fallen soldiers but also is a Veteran Friendly Community offering post-service veteran support. Our businesses are ready to utilize the skills of departing active duty military members and offer job training and other incentives to help them find their place in our workforce and community.