The new Midland County Courthouse, left, will host its official dedication on September 27, 2010, leaving behind a courthouse that occupied land in Midland's central business district since the dawn of the Windmill City.
In the photo at left, Midland's first courthouse, purchased for $3,000. The photo, taken in 1885, is one of the first pictures featured in a book released Tuesday called "Images of America: Midland (Arcadia Press)," a franchise line of books that has featured pictorial histories on hundreds of towns across the country.
BIG DEALS. In your opinion, what are the most significant, landscape-changing events that have occurred in Midland's history? There are no limitations on how many events you nominate, but please explain why you feel your nominee(s) warrant being on your list.
We have the same question listed at our Facebook page and hope to receive a lot to talk about over the next few months.
As always, thank you for your interest in the project, the book and your interest in the web site. Thanks ... Jimmy
Midland has of course had a long and storied history with its churches. Several protestant representatives came here on the heels of some of our earliest settlers. The Methodists were the first to organize a church in The Windmill City, and the Baptists, not to be outdone, followed less thana year later, in 1886.
For the Presbyterians, establishing in Midland was a bit more of a challenge, although they are obviously doing quite well for themselves in 2010.
Nine years after the Presbyterians opened their first church in 1885, membership dwindled to two and in 1897, the state governing body for the Presbyterian church dissolved the Midland congregation.
Two years later they gave it another try when 16 people met to re-establish the church. They would charter what would come to be known as First Presbyterian Church.
In 1923, almost a quarter century after the church set up shop in Midland, it experienced yet another controversy when Ted Hollifield felt forced to resign after it was learned that he had married a divorced woman.
Old-timers at the church, according to published reports, said such a marital arrangement was "the straw that broke the camel's back."
After Hollifield's ouster, First Presbyterian's membership would again dwindle, and discussion of another dissolving of the congregation re-emerged. Ultimately, the grace of God restored the church, which would go on to become a beacon of Christianity and protestantism in Midland, as well as an unquestioned leader in the community.
When the question was put to readers on our History of Character Facebook page, asking for nominees for their favorite Midland ‘institutions,’ there was no real definition of what an institution was. Which is why we got answers as varied as Burger Train and Viola Coleman.
Everyone has his or her own meaning for the word. In fact, we recorded 99 different places, things or people that fit people’s ideas of an institution.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, is that most of the nominees were restaurants. In fact over 50 of the “institutions” listed had something to do with mealtime. What might be surprising is that the leading vote getter along with Luigi’s (not surprising) is the fact that Blue Star Inn was mentioned more than any other place. Really interesting, I thought. Blue Star, by the way, was recently damaged by fire and has finally closed and gone up for sale.
Some of you guys left some priceless comments about your memories of Midland’s most famous places.
My favorite is this, from Lee Ann Jolly Lewis:
“If you bought your first Madame Alexander doll at Peyton's Toys, drank out of the lion's mouth at Dennis the Menace Park, shopped for Hang Ten outfits at The Carousel, got your cool hippie clothes at the tiny shop "Head West", grabbed some fake dog poop at Dodson's Party Shop, had Sam Hollis take your photo, and visited the Midland Museum in the basement of the public library, you are a true Midlander!,” Lee Ann wrote. “If you played miniature golf at PLAYLAND, enjoyed a steak at the Crossed Keys restaurant, laughed when somebody painted a bikini on the naked statue in front of the house at the tip of Scarbauer Draw, knew that the trees around the house on Midkiff at Golf Course Road were planted in the shape of Texas, and watched slot car races in the shopping center on "A" Street and Neely, you are a true OLD MIdlander!”
Lee Ann may in fact be more equipped to write this book than anyone.
J. Marc Lewis, Lee Ann’s husband, chimed in with his memories: “I went to Cowden Jr. High the last year before it was torn down to build new Midland National Bank. Behind Southern Maid donuts, across the street, was where all the fights happened after school. Who knew that Blue Star Inn had Chinese food? We went there for awesome steaks, delicious cinnamon rolls and to watch the fish tank. We raced in the Soap Box Derby on hill at Cole Park. It made no difference if "you loved to eat, or were watching your weight, you'd make your first choice Furr's Cafeteria after church on Sunday. Monterrey House Mexican Food was bueno, too. Also we listen to 550-KCRS, “the station with the happy difference.”
Sue Watlington nominated Green Acres Miniature Golf Course, recalling that it was where she and her future husband would have their first date more than 52 years ago.
And Kelly Kading put in a good word for the old Westwood Theater.
"The Westwood opened in the late 1960s, and it was state of the art,” he said. “I saw ‘2001: A Space Odyssey” there and I thought I was IN the future.”
Thanks to everyone for sharing their memories. We’ll do another one of these in the coming weeks.
Oh, and here’s your complete list, compiled completely on our “History of Character” Facebook page.
TOP VOTE GETTERS
Blue Star Inn 4
Bob's Better Burgers 3
Howard Hodge Theater 3
Dennis the Menace Park 3
Burger Train 3
Agnes' Cafe 3
The Toddle House 3
Texas Burger 2
A Street Park 2
La Bodega 2
Summer Mummers 2
Grammer Murphy's 2
Dellwood Mall 2
Price's BBQ 2
Preacher Roberts 2
A&W Root Beer Stand
Branding Iron Restaurant
The Cake Shoppe
Diamond Horseshoe Restaurant
Drive in Theaters
The original Graham's Pharmacy
Green Acres Miniature Golf
Green 's Restaurant
HiDeHo Drive In
Kings Drive In
MHS Youth Center
Minor League Baseball
Midland Memorial Stadium
Midland Air Terminal
Pepto Bismol House
Ranch House Restaurant
Rendezvous Drive Inn
Reynolds Brothers Reproduction
The Stardust Ballroom
Texan Drive Inn
Old Walgreen -- Largest Drugstore in Texas
The Wilco Building
About the Blog
Welcome, and thanks for your interest in what will be a rewarding trip through our shared past. This "History of Character" blog is only the beginning. A book by the same name -- "A History of Character: The Story of Midland, Texas" -- will be published September 2014. Through this blog you'll be able to track the progress of the project and learn along with the book's author, Jimmy Patterson. If you have stories to share that you think deserve mention in the history of our city, drop an email to email@example.com.