If you like the idea of having a home on the range but can’t imagine living in the middle of nowhere, you might take a look at Corsicana. The first oil boom town in Texas, it was founded in 1848 and by the early 1900s it was one of the top 10 cities in the nation with the most millionaires. It’s stuck to its small-town roots ever since.
In the 1920s Mobil Oil (then Magnolia Oil) was looking for a place to grow its headquarters, planning a skyscraper in the downtown. The community in Corsicana told them to take their skyscraper somewhere else – and that’s how Dallas got its red pegasus. Thanks, Corsicana.
It’s a thriving little country town of about 24,000 with a larger-than-expected downtown, full of two-story architectural gems. In the last three months, seven new businesses have opened, and 3 more will be opening soon. This weekend it’s throwing a debutante party for itself.
And would you believe, you can still find a 1920s craftsman bungalow here, just blocks from downtown in the Historic Carriage District, for under $150,000? You could buy a big beautiful fixer-upper for under $200,000. It’s a bit harder to buy into the grand historic estates of Mills Place, but there are a few on the market here and there. And there’s plenty of open range, Texas Blackland Prairie, and Crosstimbers.
It’s only an hour outside of Dallas, and there’s not much traffic coming into town on I-45. You’ve practically got the world at your fingertips when you want it. And you’ve got your peace of mind. You may have heard recently about the 100 West Artist Residency program here attracting artists from around the world. When people who have never been to the US come to visit Texas, Corsicana is what they expect to see — barbecue,, rodeos, livestock, classic diners, and the most adorable downtown right out of an old western.
This weekend Corsicana dips its metaphorical community toe into the waters of the thriving Main Street, toying with ideas such as a biergarten, dog park, shops open until 9 p.m. and shows at all three downtown theaters! And the highlight of it all — 12 pop-up shops!
Have you ever seen a pop-up event where more than 10 shops are set up in vacant storefronts for a day? I’d say this is unprecedented in North Texas, maybe the nation. This city really has it together – the kind of client an Economic Development Placemaker like myself dreams of.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly way to spend Saturday, or you’re looking for your next investment opportunity, you might just clear your schedule this weekend.
It all begins tonight, Friday, with a professional Ghost Investigation at the Corsicana Opry at 8:30 p.m. The new owner could talk for hours about its hauntings – now they’re bringing in the pros for the first time.
Saturday, downtown shops and the temporary pop-ups are open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., the biergarten is giving away beer from Athens Brewery from 2 to 9 p.m. (celebrating their 1 year anniversary!) with live music to accompany. Bring your dog and meet the locals at the dog park, bring the kids for the crafts corner and the magician!
Take a historic walking tour of downtown with the Corsicana Preservation Foundation and see styles from downtown shops and pop-ups at the Fashion Show Street Walk on the crosswalk — Beatles-style. If you get there early enough you can join the crossfire free community workout or $5 yoga. Or catch Tai Chi at Lady Diana’s Zen Cafe. Or just rent a bike from the pop-up bike shop and check out the famed Collin Street Bakery. (Seriously. The Queen of England bought fruitcakes from them. You’ll see proof in the shop.) Then catch the final performance of the Savannah Sipping Society on stage at the Warehouse Living Arts Center.
It’s going to be a nice, long, chill day exploring this sweet town. Bring the family, make a day of it. And if you catch the bug and think there might be an opportunity for you here, just stay till Sunday morning’s property tour at 11 a.m. You’ll meet the Economic Development Director and see what’s available now. If you’re serious, he might even share some under-the-radar deals. It is a small town after all.
What Corsicana could really use is a few quintessential Bed and Breakfast boutiques near downtown. There are actually more than a few potential good old homes. You might need to investigate. If you want the inside scoop, drop me a line.
See the weekend’s full line up at corsicanamainstreet.org.