Located midway between Longview and Dallas on the route of Amtrak's Texas Eagle, Mineola was for years a major division point on the east-west mainline of the Texas & Pacific Railway, as well as hosting a branch line terminal for both the Missouri- Kansas-Texas Railroad and the Missouri Pacific Lines. The downtown business district was originally built around the railroad station -- the community's center of commerce. Today, this historic business district has been transformed into an interesting variety of antique shops, specialty shops and restaurants. A variety of architectural styles from the past can be observed during a stroll through the downtown area, with one of the more noteworthy structures being the former First National Bank building. This imposing brick structure, constructed in 1912, now housing the Mineola Chamber of Commerce.
Mineola's railroad station was heavily modernized by the Texas & Pacific after World War II, but even this modernistic style is approaching 50 years of age and is historic in its own right. The depot faces Commerce Street and the downtown business district, a convenient location appreciated by past and present train travelers. A trackside gazebo provides an excellent site to relax and watch downtown activity, punctuated by the occasional passage of trains. Several former railroad hotels survive, including the Beckham Hotel which faces the railroad mainline from across Commerce Street. The Beckham is undergoing restoration as a bed and breakfast inn, with shops and a restaurant on the ground floor. Mineola's other railroad hotel, the historic Bailey-Carlton Hotel located just south of the depot, is abandoned and the imposing structure now faces an uncertain future.
Texas & Pacific passenger service disappeared from Mineola in 1969, and when Amtrak restored service in 1974, Mineola was not among the few cities chosen for intermediate stops. Mineola leaders began efforts to secure an Amtrak stop for Mineola in 1991, and after much work, this effort culminated with a large inaugural celebration on April 28, 1996. The westbound Texas Eagle now arrives in Mineola shortly after noon, while the eastbound Eagle arrives in the early evening. Visit the Texas Eagle web site for more detailed schedules.
Mineola offers an excellent getaway destination where it is possible to relax and retreat from the stress and interruptions of today's busy lifestyle. A visitor might spend time shopping and strolling around downtown or curled up with a good book in one the nearby bed and breakfast inns, but regardless of the activity, the "Mineola experience" is one to be enjoyed, savored, and repeated.
The Munzesheimer Manor, located on the corner of Newsom & Kilpatrick, was constructed circa 1898 by Gustav Munzesheimer, a German immigrant and businessman. This impressive structure was built in the 'Princess Anne' style (a less-ornate version of the 'Queen Anne' Victorian architecture) and has been painstakingly restored to its original grandeur. The main house includes two parlors, a large formal dining room, and four guest rooms. Three cottage rooms are also on the grounds, including two (the Engineer's room and the Conductor's room in the "Home Terminal") which have been decorated as a tribute to Mineola's railroad heritage. All rooms are furnished with English and American antiques and each room has its own private bath with antique footed tub. A large wrap-around porch, separate porches on the cottages, and secluded benches throughout the tree-shaded yard provide seasonal opportunities to mingle and visit with other guests or the privacy to simply read or daydream. Innkeepers Bob and Sherry Murray have operated this B&B since it opened in the late 1980s, and their unobtrusive hospitality has made this inn a favorite among many visitors to Mineola. Delicious German pancakes are a house specialty for breakfast. Transportation is provided to and from the Amtrak station for guests arriving via the Texas Eagle. Distance from Amtrak station and downtown: 3 blocks. Contact information: Munzesheimer Manor, 202 North Newsom, Mineola TX 75773. E-mail: Innkeeper@Munzesheimer.com Reservations: (888) 569-6634; Information (903) 569-6634; Fax (903) 569-9940.
The Lott Home and Cottages located adjacent to the Munzesheimer Manor at Kilpatrick & Wigley Streets, was built in 1918 by Angus D. Beaird, a Mineola businessman. In 1928, the property was sold to Howard and Vivian Lott, prominent leaders in the development of Mineola and Wood County. The house and adjacent two-story cottage is of prairie style construction characteristic of the early 1900s, surrounded by a large shaded yard and garden area. Two suites are available, each offering antique furnishings, a private bath, television, and a private porch with rockers. Miss Vivian's Canning Room, on the ground floor, is a charming suite, complete with a Grecian Jacuzzi tub for two, and a gas log fireplace. The Garden Gate, located on the second floor of the cottage, offers a private suspended deck with a romantic Hot Springs Spa for two, perfect for viewing a beautiful East Texas sunset. An outdoor patio with fireplace is also available for guests to enjoy roasting hot dogs or marshmallows in the fall or winter months. Innkeepers Mark and Sharon Chamblee provide transportation to and from the Amtrak station in a vintage 1941 Ford, and bicycles are available for guests who prefer this mode to walking when traveling about town. Distance from Amtrak station and downtown: 4 blocks. Contact information: The Lott Home Cottages Bed & Breakfast, 311 East Kilpatrick, Mineola TX, 75773. E-mail: email@example.com Phone: (888) 232-LOTT or (903) 569-0341.
The Beckham Hotel is a genuine railroad hotel, built to house passengers as well as railroad employees laying over between runs. Located on Commerce Street in the downtown area, the hotel sits directly across the tracks from the Amtrak station. Several rooms overlook the tracks, and are favorites of guests who find Mineola's railroad heritage particularly appealing. The present brick structure was completed in 1927 after a fire razed the first (ca. 1880s) hotel. Big bands were said to have played in the upstairs ballroom during the 1920s and 1930s, and there are stories of bootlegging, ghosts and late night poker games interrupted only by the passing of trains. One upstairs room (with private bath) and two upstairs suites have been refurbished for public use and restoration is underway in other areas. The Beckham functions more as a hotel (offering a continental breakfast) compared to the traditional bed and breakfast inns where a full breakfast is provided. Contact information: The Beckham Hotel, 115 Commerce Street, Mineola TX 75773. Phone: (903) 569-0835.
The 70-year old Select Theatre (located on Johnson Street, near the intersection of Johnson & Kilpatrick) is the oldest operating movie theatre in Texas. First run movies are offered on weekends, usually with 7pm showings on Friday and Saturday and a 2pm matinee on Saturday. The Lake County Playhouse, a live-drama group headquartered at the Select, offers live theatre productions approximately one weekend each month. Phone: (903) 569-2300.
The LaSalle Art Gallery and Theatre is located on Johnson Street across from the Select Theatre. An art gallery occupies the first floor, with a second-floor theatre providing a great addition to the performing arts. A selection of gourmet desserts are served with coffees and teas at each performance. Evening performances are scheduled on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and advance reservations are recommended. Contact information: Linda Sale, LaSalle Theatre, 109 North Johnson St., Mineola TX, 75773. Phone: (903) 569- 0338.
The Piney Woods Pick'n Parlor, located in the grand ballroom of the Beckham Hotel, features a variety of concerts ranging from blues to bluegrass, folk to country, and jazz to Celtic. Concerts are normally held on the second Saturday of each month. The Coffee House offers live music entertainment on Saturday nights when no concert is scheduled. For information or reservations, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (903) 569-2185.
Posted: Monday, 9 September 1997; revised 15 July 2002.