History of the Ennis Historical Society
The Ennis Heritage Society, as it was previously known, was founded in 1981 by Tia Atwood and Sugar Glaspy with the assistance of the Texas Historical Commission and numerous citizens of Ennis and East Ellis County.
In order to prevent the continuing loss of family papers and photographs, the first major goal of the Society at the outset was the establishment of an archival repository to preserve those materials pertinent to the history of Ennis and east Ellis County. These collections were housed at the office of the Ennis Heritage Society in the original 1882 Ennis National Bank building but were later moved to the Ennis Public Library where they are today. It is a goal of this society to have a catalog of its collections and to manage the ongoing flow of personal artifact and letters donations.
The second main goal of the society was to create public awareness of the historic significance of the downtown business district. The group has been active over the years in the Main Street Program implementation. It has supported and fought for zoning ordinances that would protect the integrity of the downtown historic district, historic homes and neighborhoods. Historic home tours have often been a part of the holiday season and many of the organization's meetings have been held in various historic homes and businesses around Ennis. Our goal is to keep the historic district figuratively and literally alive with the presence of our citizens!
Lastly, the EHS has held numerous educational programs, including field trips to the Dallas Heritage Village, a live "Antiques Road Show," and numerous guest speaker programs to educate its members about many aspects of historic preservation.
These three goals, preservation, awareness, and education, remain the cornerstone of the organizations activities today.
The Society collects and maintains access to an archive of primary sources for the history of Ennis. These collections are housed at the Ennis Public Library and can be viewed there. The index of more than 90 groups of photographs, newspapers, correspondence and other documents can be accessed by internet at www.ennispubliclibrary.com. Once on the library’s website you may search the library’s catalogue by clicking on “Atrium” at the left margin, then entering EHS Historical Archive. Each collection has a key word description of the contents. Just a few of the collections are listed here:
- Log cabin slides
- Downtown Ennis Photo collection
- Ennis Chamber of Commerce collection
- Ennis National Bank collection
- Knights of Pythias Building collection
- Rogers Shoe Store History
- “Ennis at the Turn of the Century"
- Ennis Daily News Photo collection
- And many more significant collections – Happy hunting!
Notable Past Projects
Through its volunteers and resources, the Ennis Heritage Society was involved in many projects of major significance; some of them include the following:
- Continues to provide funding to the Ennis Public Library in order to properly maintain the archives, photographs and historic newspapers placed there by the Ennis Heritage Society.
- Assisted the City of Ennis with the implementation of an Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG), resulting in the private sector rehabilitation of seven historic buildings in downtown Ennis (1982-1983).
- Assisted the City of Ennis with the application for the Main Street Project. Upon designation as a 1984 Main Street City, helped with the implementation of the program which resulted in the rehabilitation of forty-three downtown structures with a reinvestment value of $4.1 million (1984-1988).
- Assisted in the application for a Historic Resources Survey Grant which was awarded by the Texas Historical Commission to the City of Ennis in 1985. The survey, conducted by the firm Hardy Heck Moore, resulted in the listing of approximately 120 structures on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the designation of a Historic Commercial District (1985-1986).
- Acquired the Farrar House on Southwest Main Street at Lampasas. Of major regional and historical significance, it was believed to have been the oldest house in Ennis. Regretfully, the house was later demolished (1988).
- Prepared exhibits for display at the Ennis Public Library and the Ellis County Museum, describing the history of Ennis, including the diverse cultural heritage of the region (1989).
- Provided support for the Certified Local Government workshop held in Ennis, sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (1989).
- Developed a plan which led to the establishment of a Historical Landmark Commission and a Historic Districts Landmark Preservation Ordinance by the City of Ennis, culminating in the city being recognized as a Certified Local Government by the Texas Historical Commission (1989-1990).
- Provided assistance with historic photographs, as well as other information and resources, for the City of Ennis Railroad Museum.
- Provided assistance and information that resulted in the relocation, rather than demolition, of the historic Story House, the last L-shaped house in Ennis (1993).
- Completed “A Taste of Historic Ennis” cookbook containing some three hundred recipes representing the ethnic groups of Ennis (1993). Also popular were the historic calendars and lap blankets depicting historic structures of the community.
- Acquired from the SSC farm equipment and artifacts from the old Dolezal Farmstead (1993).
- Established the Heritage Landmark Plaque Awards for structures important to the history of the community and deemed worthy of preservation.
- Provided financial support to the Jr. Historians at Ennis High School for some of their projects.
Myrtle Meander Cemetery Tour
October 15, 2016
Myrtle Cemetery Tour
Click Here for more information
Become a Member
All dues, memorials and donations go to the general operating fund. Click here if you are interested in becoming a member.
Make a Donation
Your donation to the Ennis Historical Society will help us save the best of Ennis' past to become the foundation of a bright future. We are collecting the documents, photographs and stories and protecting the historic structures that help make our town a community. We depend on the generosity of individuals, organizations and foundations to sustain our work. Please help us by making a contribution today. If you are interested in making a one-time donation, then please click below.
Ennis Historical Society is an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
This book on the history of Ennis ($21.99) and the Ennis Throw Blanket ($40) are available at the Ennis Convention and Visitors Bureau.