Tyler, Texas packs a lot of punch into a small town. It’s known for many things: For being the rose capital of the nation (about one-third of the commercial rose bushes in America come from Tyler), for being named after our 10th president, John Tyler (a proponent of states’ rights and an independent Texas), and for being home to some respected educational institutions. That makes the East Texas town ideal for any group trip – history, natural beauty and culture all in one little spot.
So what makes Tyler the perfect destination for any group seeking a trip that engages their spirits and imaginations?
Many things, actually. Tyler combines a welcoming, small-town atmosphere with a celebrated collection of historic houses and plantations. Tyler allows you to have a sense of history’s thread throughout time, connecting you directly to a bygone era and the people who populated it and built these majestic homes. In short, Tyler is a place where you can’t help but meditate on the changing nature of our world while enjoying and celebrating man’s achievements.
What Do You Mean by Historic Homes?
For those who respect and enjoy architecture and design, notable homes worth visiting include:
Goodman-LeGrand Home & Museum. Built in 1859, remodeled in 1880 and 1926, the home now offers a glimpse at the evolution in architectural styles. The home also played a role in the history of the United States, as the original owner served in the Confederate Army in the Civil War. The third owner (also a veteran) and his family lived there from 1866-1939. The final heir bequeathed the estate to the city. The home was designated a National Historic Site in 1976 and is open to the public as a museum with free admission.
Bonner-Whitaker McClendon House. Built in 1880 and remodeled slightly in 1910, this historic site today serves as a “living museum” of antebellum Texas and the Victorian era. Guided tours are offered daily to walk you through what life was like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in a Texas recovering from the Civil War.
Dewberry Plantation. A true plantation home, this historic building offers a fascinating glimpse into what life was like in the South before the Civil War. Built in 1854, it is a rare example of the classic Greek Revival style popularized in films such as Gone with the Wind, owing largely to original owners Colonel John Dewberry’s Georgia roots. Guided tours bring this elegantly appointed, fully restored home to life.
Roseland Plantation. Another classic Greek Revival home also built in 1854, Roseland Plantation today serves afternoon tea and offers an antique store where you can take home a piece of functioning history. Guided tours, by appointment only, cost $8 per person). Restored and furnished with authentic period pieces, the plantation offers a true glimpse of life in the antebellum South.
What Else is There to Do in Tyler?
There are plenty of other beautiful, peaceful places to visit in Tyler, including:
Tyler Municipal Rose Garden and Tyler Rose Museum. The Rose Garden is ideal in the fall when roses are in bloom, offering a breathtaking view of more than 500 rose varieties. The museum preserves the history of the Texas Rose Festival, begun in 1933 and held annually each October ever since. There are parade floats and the gowns, crowns and scepters of past Rose Queens.
The Azalea & Spring Flower Trail, an annual event held in late March and early April, showcases Tyler’s historic homes and residential gardens. Two trails, marked by special Azalea Trail signs, have been routed to maintain an orderly traffic flow so visitors can see as many flowers as possible.
Nothing beats nature’s majesty for sheer inspiration, so a visit to the Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful way to feel closer to our maker. The non-profit big cat rescue is home to more than 40 wild cats that have been rescued from abusive or neglectful environments.
Make a Plan!
So the secret’s out: If you’re planning a retreat or simply a trip for your church group, family, or club, Tyler, Texas offers a community that will make you feel at home, make you feel history in beautiful and fascinating historic homes, and offer you natural beauty that will humble and inspire you. With plenty of comfortable accommodations and splendid dining, it will also be a fun trip you will always treasure.
Have you been to Tyler and toured the historic homes? Let us know in the comments so we can benefit from your experience!