Community feedback has given us a clear sense of the importance of maintaining Celina's historic, small-town charm. The City has a strong commitment to upholding this character while expanding the opportunities to connect with commerce, culture, and the community. The Downtown Celina Square serves as a perfect personification of the character we seek to preserve and enhance. To better understand where this character comes from, let's take a trip back in time to explore the history of the Downtown Square.
Celina was established in 1876, and three years later, a little settlement began to form. It was located just a few miles south of the Celina that we know and love today. Life continued in this area until 1902 when the train began running through the City. At this point, things began to shift towards the area that Celina currently inhibits.
Businesses and homes were relocated, and construction began to take place in the new location. In 1910, Celina resident J. Fred Smith started laying down the Square and building brick buildings around it. By July 1911, his efforts had paid off—several new buildings were ready for use, and gravel defined the streets. Businesses began to relocate from their wooden structures into the new brick buildings. Many of these wooden structures moved into the residential section and transformed into homes. This was a pivotal moment in Celina's character as it marked the shift towards the brick features that define the Downtown Square today.
By 1937 the number of businesses in Celina had expanded greatly to include (among other things) a movie theater, ice cream factory, several gas stations, cotton gins, and even an opera house at one point. During World War II, the diversification of commerce in the Downtown Square continued as the Square served as a collection point for scrap iron.
Fast forward to 2021, and you will find that just under half of the buildings around or adjacent to the Square are original structures. However, these features continue to serve as an excellent representation of the historic charm that so many of us associate with Celina. Buildings such as these have, and will, offer models for future renovations or new structures. The recently completed Huddleston Building renovation exemplifies how successfully we can modernize Downtown Celina while retaining the historic, rural feel. This project received an award from the Texas Downtown Association for Best New Construction in cities under 50,000.
As our beloved City continues to grow, we remain committed to preserving Celina's elements that are integral to our community and connect us to our history. Throughout a series of articles in our monthly newsletter, we hope to illuminate some of the important histories that connect us to where we are today and inspires our vision for the future.
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Greater Celina Chamber of Commerce. Celina History. www.celinachamber.org/celina-history/.
Huddleston, J., Lair, J., & Cox, B. (1976). Reminiscences of Celina.