Downtown Living Puts Residents in Center of Action
Sulphur Springs Renovations Include New Living Quarters
Myra Watson enjoys her view of the courthouse plaza from her loft in downtown Sulphur Springs.
Photos by Judy Peacock
Myra Watson likes to look on the bright side of life. That’s easy to do from her loft with a front-row view of downtown Sulphur Springs.
“Living here is one of the best things that has happened to me in my life,” Watson says.
She and her husband David — who both grew up in Sulphur Springs — bought and renovated an old building downtown that was once Boyd’s Pharmacy downstairs, and had several different offices housed upstairs through the years. They took an added facade off the outside of the building and brought it back to the original brick where possible, and the building still has the Boyd crest emblem on the front. The wood flooring in the Watson’s loft was restored from the old sub-flooring, and they used some of the salvageable old hardwood flooring to create beautiful feature walls.
The Watsons created these beautiful feature walls using original hardwood flooring from old upstairs offices of this historic building during renovations.
Moving in just last summer, the Watsons often sit and drink tea while gazing out large windows from their living room at the magnificent architecture of the castle-like Hopkins County Courthouse and watching people in the active plaza that is the heart of downtown. Visitors wander about the plaza playing giant checkers and chess games, viewing the exquisite veterans memorial, and lining up to use the amusing see-through bathrooms.
They especially their view of special events like the Fourth of July celebration when they enjoyed a symphony followed by beautiful fireworks that filled the sky behind the courthouse. During Christmas activities, Santa even visited their porch and waved at people below on the busy brick streets.
Myra says, “We have had friends and photographers visit and take photos from the balcony because it is such a great vantage point.”
Their powder room features a photo of the building when it was Larner’s Drug Store and an actual tonic bottle and package from the original Boyd’s Pharmacy.
The Watsons’ loft is open concept with a beautiful chef’s kitchen where Myra loves to cook overlooking the dining area and walls of windows. She has even hosted cooking classes for large groups. She and her husband can either stay in and cook or walk just a few steps outside their front door to meet friends for dinner or a glass of wine at one of the downtown restaurants. They walk to church, to a variety of shops, and to enjoy the park-like feel of the plaza.
“I hardly ever drive anymore,” Myra says.
Being part of the downtown community is rewarding and the Watsons are making a lot of new friends -- people who live there as neighbors, as well as those who work there.
“The feeling of community is truly the best part about living here.”
Another downtown tenant, former Boston and Dallas resident Corey Blakes, looks out his living room window over the brick-lined Main Street and sees lots of activity at the many popular downtown restaurants and shops. Some of the best places to get burgers and steaks in Texas are right outside his front door but he often takes meals that he prepares himself out on his balcony to enjoy with the view.
Corey Blakes looking out his living room window.
When the weather is nice, Blakes spends as much time as possible enjoying his outdoor living space above the street, soaking in the sights and sounds of locals and tourists. He enjoys people watching in general.
Blakes says, “My favorite thing to do is to watch people try to parallel park.”
Blakes loves the small town atmosphere that comes with living in Sulphur Springs. This personal trainer/photographer has spent years in big cities, and the way that people care about him here is a world of difference from before, he says, and that is very important to him.
“Living here, I know that there are a number of people who are there for me if I need them.”
The busy courthouse plaza is just around the block from Blakes’ downtown apartment so it is easy for him to attend the many events the city organizes each year. He can walk there alone or with friends, take photos, meet people, and enjoy all the festivities.
If he gets tired or does not feel like being with a lot of people at the time, he can easily walk a few steps and relax in the quiet of home.
What Blakes loves most about living downtown is how he is centrally located to all he needs to do. He is very close to work and nightlife and to any errands or shopping he needs to do.
“This is right where I want to be.”
Downtown living is a rising trend in Texas small towns like Sulphur Springs.
The McLeroy Building is a beautiful example of downtown living space.
The view of Standbridge House is yet another stunning downtown home along Main Street.
Community Development Specialist Sarah Dicus says this is a great way of life for people who do not want to worry with a yard and who want to be in the middle of the action.
“From their doorsteps, they can walk to restaurants, shops, and events. They have front-row seats to the city’s many events like music and parades.”
Dicus also points out that even though there are many exciting activities downtown, things close down at a decent hour most evenings so loud noise levels late at night are not a problem for downtown residents.
The idea of downtown living in Sulphur Springs started to take hold several years ago when the town began major revitalization efforts to change downtown into a fun place to visit.
There are now 11 apartments and several more in the works, Dicus says, noting the town has a “Fredericksburg-y feel.”
Emily Glass owns one of the buildings on Main Street with an event venue downstairs and three apartments upstairs. Glass says when she and her husband purchased the space seven years ago, the upstairs was a terrible mess.
“It looked like no one had touched it since the 1940s,” she says.
With a big, gaping hole in the floor and remnants of the Knights of Pythias who used to meet there years ago, and a personal connection to the building, Glass says she and her husband envisioned beautiful, high-quality homes for people and set out to make that happen. Renovations included creating a wide stairwell and hallways with high ceilings and adding hardwood floors, granite counter tops, and laundry connections in each of the apartments.
Brightened up old buildings in downtown Sulphur Springs is creating a community of residents that are having the time of their lives.