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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. 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. Terrell was named a Main Street City in 1985. The more than $4 million Main Street Program renovation included new sidewalks, planter boxes, and nostalgic lighting, reflects the city’s commitment to retaining the charm of yesteryear while enhancing commercial activity in the central business district.   

Terrell started as a depot town along the Texas and Pacific Railway when ‘King Cotton’ was the cash crop. The Midland Railcar located at Ben Gill Park represents the rolling stock of Texas Midland Railroad, once headquartered in Terrell. The R.A. Terrell Homeplace is located on the campus of the Southwestern Christian College. The home was among the first dwellings in Terrell, and it is one of 20 surviving Round Houses in the nation. There are 27 historical markers on turn-of-the-century homes, schools, cemeteries, churches, and buildings of historical as well as architectural interest. Learn about the early days by visiting the Terrell Heritage Museum located in the Carnegie Library Building.

Today, Terrell is the principal commercial center of Kaufman County with friendly neighborhoods, a historic downtown, thriving business parks, airport and a variety of cultural activities.

Visit downtown for a variety of retail shops, professional offices, museums, and restaurants. At Tanger Outlets, every day is sale day at more than 40 national brand stores. And you’ll feel right at home in any of Terrell’s national-brand hotels, bed and breakfasts and RV Parks.

Other events in the community sponsored by the Terrell Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau include the annual Heritage Jubilee, 4th of July firework show, Christmas Parade, Annual Civic Auction, and more. 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. Terrell is located within a triangle formed by three of the best lakes in Northeast Texas and the entire Southwest. Lake Tawakoni, Lake Ray Hubbard, and Cedar Creek Reservoir offer campgrounds, picnic areas, fishing and boating facilities. The Terrell Public Library serves all Terrell and Kaufman County residents. The Friends of the Public Library sponsor summer children’s programs, an annual craft fair, and more.

Recently, the Terrell Independent School District (TISD) has received six Academic Achievement Distinctions in three of our schools from the Texas Education Agency (TEA). 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 Terrell Alliance for Education and the Arts provides diverse cultural opportunities and related educational activities reaching out and connecting to all segments of the community. Terrell Performing Arts Center is home to a variety of productions, concerts and exhibits within its state-of-the-art facilities. The E! Terrell Entertainment Series brings renowned artists to center stage. It ranks among Texas’ most outstanding high school auditoriums, complete with an exemplary light and sound system, and seating for over 1500.

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, Buc-ee’s,

The 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 No. 1 British Flying Training School (BFTS) Museum. The on-site No.1 BFTS Museum commemorates the history and importance of the more than 2,000 Royal Air Force and American Army Air Force pilots who 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.