McKinney, Texas, is a small city located just north of Dallas that can trace its beginnings back to 1839. Although the city was one of the fastest-growing in the nation for several years, it still manages to maintain its historical charm. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the city and its region, be sure to make plans to check out some of these historical places around McKinney.
Historic Downtown McKinney
One of the best places to go to explore the history of the area is straight to historic downtown McKinney. The city has one of the oldest thriving historic downtown areas in the state. As you stroll along the streets, you’ll enjoy a quaint, small-town atmosphere. Yet you’ll never run out of things to see and do. The downtown area has more than 120 unique stores and boutiques and over two dozen enticing restaurants. Many of the buildings in downtown McKinney are historic, with some dating back over 165 years.
In addition to outstanding opportunities for dining, shopping, and entertainment throughout the year, historic downtown McKinney is also home to a variety of exciting seasonal events. In the spring, be sure to stop by for the Krewe of Barkus Mardi Gras dog parade and Arts in Bloom wine and art festival. The Red, White, and BOOM! parade on Independence Day is always a good time. In the fall, you can enjoy a full weekend of German-themed fun during McKinney Oktoberfest. The city then wraps up the year with activities everyone in the family will love during A McKinney Christmas.
Chestnut Square Heritage Village
When you visit Chestnut Square Heritage Village, you’ll feel like you’re stepping back to the early days of McKinney. Here you’ll find a blacksmith shop, general store, smokehouse, chapel, a replica of a one-room schoolhouse, reception gardens, and a collection of six historic homes. These homes and buildings have period artifacts that show how people lived in the area from 1854 to 1940.
One of the buildings preserved in Chestnut Square Heritage Village is the 1854 Faires House, which is the oldest house in McKinney. It was constructed by John Faires, a blacksmith who came to the area from Tennessee. The home even boasts the original front door that was built by Faires.
In addition to tours of the historic structures, Chestnut Square Heritage Village has plenty of other unique attractions you can enjoy. The year-round McKinney Farmers Market at Chestnut Square has vendors that offer everything from fresh meat and produce to locally made jewelry and candles. The Prairie Adventure Camp gives kids a chance to enjoy some old-fashioned summer fun. You can also sign up for Heritage Workshops to learn soap making, sewing, weaving, food preservation techniques, and more.
McKinney Performing Arts Center
When the building that currently houses the McKinney Performing Arts Center was originally completed in 1875, it was considered the tallest building in the state north of San Antonio and it housed the Collin County Courthouse. The two-story building was designed in the style of the French Second Empire. It had decorative cut stones and twin towers on the eastern side and a steep mansard roof with patterned shingles.
Remodeling in 1927 drastically changed the appearance of the courthouse. A basement and third floor were added. The old roof was replaced with a new one, and the entire outside of the building was redone in buff brick. While this renovation added much-needed space to the original courthouse, it also changed the design to a more neoclassical style. In 1979, a new courthouse was constructed and the old one was vacated. However, community leaders didn’t want to abandon the old courthouse. That’s why, in 2003, a proposal was approved to redesign the old courthouse into a cultural center.
In 2006, the courthouse reopened as the McKinney Performing Arts Center. Today, not only is the center a fantastic place to get an up-close look at the history of McKinney, but it’s also the best spot to catch musical and theatrical performances, juried art shows, and more.
Collin County History Museum
If you’re interested in exploring the history of the area, there’s no better place to do it than at the Collin County History Museum. In fact, the museum itself is actually a landmark because it’s housed in the historic 1911 Post Office building. The museum gives you an in-depth look at the history of the area using photographs, historical artifacts, diaries, documents, maps, and more. One of the most popular exhibits at the museum is McKinney Then and Now.
In this exhibit, you can view historic pictures, artifacts, and building designs to learn more about the people, places, and events that helped McKinney become the city it is today. You can then use an iPad to watch videos about early McKinney and take a look at modern McKinney using drone videography. The iPad even has an augmented reality app that pairs scenes of historic McKinney to what it looks like today.
Collin County Farm Museum
Although McKinney is a fast-growing city, the Collin County Farm Museum seeks to preserve the area’s rural heritage for everyone to appreciate. Located in the Myers Park and Event Center, the museum has 8,528 square feet of restoration exhibits and collections. Additionally, other historic buildings and artifacts are located throughout the park, including a granary, blacksmith shop, and confinement house.
Along with the exhibits, the museum also offers a variety of workshops designed to give you a hands-on history experience. Some of the workshop options include making cheese, candles, soaps, and candy. You also sign up for one of the crafting classes to make your own stepping stone, concrete coasters, plaster tiles, or wildflower seed balls.
McKinney has a fascinating history just waiting for you to explore. At Huffines Kia McKinney, these are our favorite historical places in the area. Did we forget to mention a historical spot you love to visit? If so, please be sure to contact us and let us know so we can add it to our list!
Image via Flickr by Get McKinney