"Our courthouse is so beautiful, we don't need a slogan."
Seat, East Texas
31° 47' 37" N, 94° 10' 42" W (31.793611, -94.178333)
At the intersection of Hwy 7 & 87
Just E of Hwy 96 in the middle of Shelby
32 NE of Nacogdoches
17 miles W of Louisiana's state line
Population: 5,175 Est. (2019)
5,193 (2010) 5,678 (2000) 4,950 (1990)
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the town of Centerville
Center was named for its location at the center of Shelby
a Pecan Shell
and Jesse Amason donated the townsite in 1856 or 1857. In an 1866
election Center became the county seat, in one of Texas'
county seat disputes. In August 1866 the county records were stolen
and brought to Center, putting an end to the dispute. A post office
opened there the same year - further cementing the permanence of seat
of county government.
In 1882 the courthouse burned. It was replaced by the current
courthouse which is usually regarded as one of the handsomest
in Texas .
In 1904, The Gulf, Beaumont and Great Northern Railway came through.
Landmarks / Attractions
County Courthouse & Former Jail
The 1885 Romanesque Rivival courthouse is worth driving out of the
way to see. Inspired by the castles in his native Ireland, architect
John Gibson also included a fenced cupola in this handsome and unusual
County Courthouse by Lou Ann Herda
The courthouse and matching (former) jail make Center an East
Texas weekend destination in itself.
The spacious square shows the two buildings to their best advantage,
however there's more. Right in the Center of the Piney Woods, the
city took the time to plant a wide variety of trees on the courthouse
lawn. In addition, the trees complement the courthouse, rather than
obscure it. A long row of hitching-rings are set into the curb on
the West side of the square.
- Hitching Rings on Center's Courthouse Square
R - The Old Jail Now Center Chamber of Commerce
Center, Texas Attractions
Entrance 11 miles SE on Hwy.87
One block off the square on the corner of Pecan & Thomas Streets.
Hwy 87, FM
417 and FM 2694 to Boles Field Recreational Area, and other Forest
Services Roads in Sabine National Forest
in East Texas by Bob Bowman
"Through the efforts of the Texas Historical Commission and
the Pineywoods Foundation of Lufkin, historical markers are being
placed at the sites of each camp at Lufkin, Alto, Center, Tyler,
Chireno, Tyler and San Augustine...
Using only shovels, German prisoners built at Center an Olympic-size
swimming pool that was used for years by the town. Center Mayor
John Windham, who helped dedicate Center’s historical marker in
January, recalled that County Agent John Mooseburg was instrumental
in bringing the POW’s to the town as labor for agricultural work.
With a peak capacity of 700 prisoners, Camp Center was the largest
POW camp in the U.S." more
Legend Of Bone Hill by Bob Bowman
Bone Hill, a landmark standing about four miles northeast of Center,
reportedly got its name from a herd of cattle who died atop the
mill, leaving their bones to whiten in the East Texas sun. But,
as with all legends, there’s more to the story... more
Tree: The Haunted Tree of Shelby County's Square by James L.
"There are too many people still around who remember the last
time someone tried to cut it down."
Days - A Ghost Story by James L. Choron
Regulator-Moderator War by Archie P. McDonald, PhD
A feud that grew into a war erupted in East
Texas in 1839 and raged until 1844, with occasional flair ups
at various times for years afterwards.
It started in Harrison and Shelby counties but eventually involved
San Augustine, Nacogdoches, and other East
One side was called the Regulators, who, as their name implies,
wanted to "regulate" the activities of rivals. Naturally, the Moderators
wanted to "moderate" being "regulated." Now it gets confusing...
sign SE of Center
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, April 2006
|Coke & Dr
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, April 2006
Chamber of Commerce -
In the former jail.
100 Courthouse Square A-101, Center Texas 75935.
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Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories,
landmarks and recent or vintage photos, please contact