Sanger Brothers department stores were often described as the pioneer retail stores of Texas. Yet these successful mercantile ventures arose from humble beginnings. Between 1852 and 1874, five of the seven Sanger brothers immigrated to America from…

First Presbyterian Church of Waco is one of McLennan County’s oldest Protestant congregations, formed several years before Waco’s incorporation as a city. On April 20, 1855, a group of Presbyterians in Waco Village petitioned the Central Texas…

During the twentieth century, Elm Avenue served as a commercial hub and community center in East Waco. Looking to launch his own venture, entrepreneur Ike Kestner opened a bank and grocery store in the 500 block of the street in 1914. A full-page…

Since 1894, the Methodist Children’s Home has provided a home and family for needy children in Central Texas. Though its role in the community has changed over the years, its devotion to helping the most vulnerable in society has remained constant.…

Though L. L. Sams and Sons became one of the nation’s largest and most popular church furniture suppliers in the twentieth century, it developed from humble beginnings. Rev. L. L. Sams, a traveling Baptist preacher, desired to build a church for his…

Julius “Jules” Bledsoe’s extraordinary musical talent transcended racial discrimination of the nineteenth century and established him as a pioneer in American music. Bledsoe was born on December 29, 1897, to Henry and Jessie Bledsoe in Waco. Even…

In 1886, Wacoans Isaac A. Goldstein and Louey Migel formed the Goldstein-Migel Company in order to try their hand at retail. The partners opened their first store on the ground floor of a building in the 700 block of Austin Avenue with only two…

Prior to local and federal efforts in the mid-twentieth century to control rivers through the construction of dams, the Brazos River routinely overflowed its banks. In 1913, the most violent flood to date overwhelmed East Waco, taking two lives and…

Before the construction of dams along Texas rivers in the mid-twentieth century, many cities experienced severe flooding. The Brazos River Basin frequently flooded, wreaking havoc upon those who lived near the banks. Although periodic flooding aided…

The story of Reed’s Flowers is as much about its founder, Albert Harry Reed, as it is about the shop. Reed emigrated from London, England, in 1908 at the behest of his brother, Tom Reed. The two Reed brothers worked side by side in Waco as growers…

In 1930, Harry Burmeister opened Harry B’s at 1925 Speight Avenue. Burmeister, a former Baylor student and founding member of the Noze Brothers society, developed the small restaurant, soon making it a local favorite. The original restaurant…

In 1948, brothers-in-law Jack Schaevitz and Lou Stein opened a small mobile food cart at James Connally Air Force Base. The two became so successful selling burgers and frozen custard to military men that they opened a small restaurant on the Waco…

In the early twentieth century, George and Michael Colias immigrated to America from Sparta, Greece, in order to join their two brothers residing in Waco. Just teenagers at the time, the four young men worked together at Chris’ Café as busboys and…

For over a century, the Hippodrome Theatre has stood as a downtown home for ever-changing forms of entertainment.The venue emerged in the early twentieth century through advocates for a downtown theater banding together. A group of local…

On May 11, 1953, a destructive force tore through Waco and forever altered the face of the city. The tornado injured 600 people, took 114 lives, and damaged hundreds of businesses. The chaotic aftermath of this deadly storm left an indelible mark…

This important archaeological find containing the remains of twenty-five Columbian mammoths lies just on the outskirts of the city of Waco. Paul Barron and Eddie Bufkin discovered the site in 1978 while hiking along a dry seasonal creek bed between…

Bridge Street holds an important legacy of connecting North, South, and East Waco, and serving as a center of community for the city’s many ethnic groups. Known as Main Street during Waco’s early days, this historic street earned its new name after…

Ten weeks after the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, Waco was chosen as the site for a military training camp. The United States initially lacked the military manpower needed to fight in the war and needed to rapidly increase the…

The establishment of Waco Village in the nineteenth century laid the foundation for what would evolve into the vibrant commercial city that is Waco. The humble beginnings of this town were developed upon the site of the Hueco, or Waco Indians’…

The city of Waco derives its name from the agrarian Indian tribe that originally resided in the area. The Hueco, or Waco Indians were a band of the Wichita tribe that arrived in Central Texas in the 1700s. The tribe’s early history is difficult to…

Throughout its history, Waco has been affected by a constant cycle of drought and flooding due to its prime location near several major rivers. The construction of Lake Waco Dam was one of the most successful efforts to address these issues,…

Lake Waco is a reservoir and artificial lake which serves a variety of functions for the city of Waco. The dam was built in 1929 in order to control flooding of the Bosque River and to provide the city with a reliable water source. In 1961, a modern…

Waco rapidly industrialized in the early decades from its founding. The arrival of the railroad and the building of the Suspension Bridge increased the numbers of travelers through the region, and the city soon became a thriving urban center. In…

In the late nineteenth century, Waco became known as the “Athens of Texas” due to the several colleges and classical schools, eight newspapers, and scores of well-known politicians and writers located there. Despite this reputation for quality…