There are three historic buildings in Down Town Tyler on College Avenue, and all within walking distance of each. SMITH COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY is located in one of these buildings. We invite you to come for a walk through our neighborhood!
First, park your vehicle in the Fair Plaza Parking Garage at Broadway and Elm. Parking is Free. This beautiful parking garage opened in 2014. While it is not a historic place yet, this structure has some historic pieces you will want to see.
The Fair Plaza Parking Garage has 2 clocks on the building. These clocks came from the 1910 Tyler Courthouse. This courthouse was demolished in 1955. A life member of ours, the late Keating Zeppa, purchased the clocks along with the pendant light you will see above the R.W. Fair statue. Later these, and other items he purchased, were donated to us, The Smith County Historical Society! The Society has a permanent loan agreement with the city to use these items.
- When you tour our museum, you will see beautiful artwork of the 1910 Courthouse, as well as more fabulous pieces that Mr. Zeppa purchased, including Lady Liberty!
After parking, make your way across Elm Street to where it intersects with College Avenue. You will be standing just outside the historic Jenkins-Harvey Super Service Station and Garage. Built in 1929, this Art-Deco building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
- You will see a fireman’s pole in one corner of the building’s garage that the attendants used to quickly slide down from upstairs. The building is now used for loft-style residential.
Now it’s time to come across College Avenue and come see us! The SMITH COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY is located in the historic Carnegie Library. Built in 1904, this building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Carnegie Library served Tyler TX as the Public Library from 1904 to 1978. Andrew Carnegie attributed his success and wealth to education, so he helped to build over 2500 libraries worldwide with 1689 in the U.S.
- Plan to spend some time with us touring the building and our museum! Come see the pieces we have from the old courthouse, as well as our WWI exhibit and our 20th Century of Progress exhibit! We have a self-guided Scavenger Hunt to keep the kids entertained!
After leaving our building, walk North towards Erwin. On the other side of Erwin you will see the 15 story People’s Petroleum building. Built in 1932, the People’s Petroleum Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. While being built, this Art-Deco building was the largest construction project west of the Mississippi. It can also boast to later having the first escalator in East Texas.
- The People’s Petroleum Building is depicted in our Douthitt Wilson Mural at the Smith County Historical Society!
There you have it! Three buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, all on College Avenue, and all within walking distance of each other!
Once you have toured our museum and seen the other historical buildings in our neighborhood, you could grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants on the square, or head back to the Tyler Public Library and check out some summer reading.
We hope you will enjoy visiting our Down Town Tyler College Avenue neighborhood! We look forward to seeing you at the museum.