Courthouse Square Named Great Places in Texas 2023 by American Planning Association


The Texarkana Federal Courthouse and Post Office has been awarded the prestigious American Planning Association ‘Great Place in Texas’ for 2023 during an awards ceremony held in Austin on March 26th, 2024, recognizing its historic significance and unique charm. The Courthouse Square boasts a major tourist attraction that straddles the Texas-Arkansas state line.

To be eligible for this award, a space must meet several criteria. It should enhance the quality of life in the community, incorporate and preserve natural systems, serve as a central hub for community engagement and economic activity, cater to a diverse population, promote community health, serve as a regional focal point, and demonstrate a broad spectrum of participation and community involvement in event planning and hosting.

Built in 1931, the courthouse is the second most photographed federal courthouse in the United States and the only one to span a state line. Visitors from around the globe flock to the square to capture photos straddling the border, symbolically standing in two places at once.

Recent infrastructure and rehabilitation projects have transformed the Texarkana Courthouse Square into a hub of community events and economic activity. Events such as Oktoberfest, Dine on the Line, Health Fair on the Line, Juneteenth Celebration and Parade, Texarkana Farmers Market, and Food Truck Fridays have made the square a vibrant center of cultural and social life.

The revitalization effort, which began in 2021, focused on improving pedestrian and vehicle safety, preserving history, and enhancing the area around the courthouse. The project included expanding sidewalks, adding crosswalks, closing the 5th Street entrance for improved vehicle safety, and reclaiming a portion of the original brick streets. The addition of a tourist kiosk, public art, expanded green space, and an area for food truck vendors has made the square a versatile space for a variety of events.

The original Strategic Doing question for the Courthouse Square Project over three years ago was “What would it look like if the Texarkana Federal Courthouse & Post Office was an award-winning public space?”. This question sparked a journey of imagination and planning, inspiring stakeholders to envision a revitalized, vibrant space that not only honors the area’s history and significance but also serves as a beacon of community pride and a catalyst for economic and social revitalization.

Funding for the project, totaling $1,442,407, came from multiple sources, including contributions from both Cities, the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce, the Patterson Troike Foundation, and Texas Commission on the Arts. The collaboration between regional, state, and federal entities was instrumental in the successful revitalization of the courthouse square.

Surrounded by other iconic places undergoing renovation, such as the Texarkana National Bank and the Hotel Grim which will be completed soon, the Courthouse Square is a key driver of downtown revitalization. Its unique blend of history, culture, and community make it a must-visit destination for tourists and locals alike.

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