Waxahachie: A Place in Your Heart, Texas


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A public art display in the downtown square of a kinetic kaleidoscope.

Photos by Krista Leard

Guests entering downtown Waxahachie are greeted by a grand ornate “castle” courthouse surrounded by wall murals, art on every corner, and amazing shops and restaurants on each street. On the corner of East Jefferson and South Rogers streets is a crepe myrtle mural by street artist Calina Mishay Johnson. It includes a quote by Alfred Lord Tennyson: “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I would walk in my garden forever.”

Art and sentiments like this have a constant presence in downtown Waxahachie, all intended to pull at visitors’ heartstrings.

The city’s tagline, “A Place in Your Heart, Texas,” comes from its connection to the 1984 film Places in the Heart with Sally Field, Lindsay Crouse, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, John Malkovich, and Danny Glover. The movie was filmed in Waxahachie.

There’s no shortage of things to see and do in town and plenty of choices for shopping and dining. There are several antique shops to explore including Gingerbread Antiques, Old Town Village Antiques, and Junk for Joy.

A delicious lunch option is The Dove’s Nest at 105 West Jefferson Street. Cindy and Andrew Burch originally established the restaurant in 1992 in the back of her mother’s gift shop and it quickly grew and now they are in a much larger space in a historic building in the downtown district. Serving guests in a comfy French country-styled dining area, their menu consists of new southern cuisine.

A favorite menu item is the Smoked Turkey Sandwich. It comes packed with thinly sliced smoked turkey piled on a ciabatta roll with Havarti cheese, pickled red onions, arugula, tomatoes and apple wood bacon, dressed with a Dijon mayo. It comes with a pile of mixed kettle-baked chips.

For dessert, guests can’t go wrong with the made-from-scratch Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie, topped off with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream that melts perfectly over the hot pie. The pecan pie is made without corn syrup so it is thick, almost like sweet pecan bread, with extra crust.

The Dove’s Nest goes beyond the restaurant with an adjacent large shopping boutique equipped with decorations for the home and more.

Just down the road from The Dove’s Nest is the Ellis County Museum. This historical destination was first organized in 1968 by the citizens of Waxahachie inside of an 1889 structure directly across the street from the Ellis County Courthouse. Inside, rows and rows of shelves and glass cases hold artifacts and documents telling the story of Ellis County.

Displays range from objects brought by the families who migrated to Waxahachie to one of the first perm machines used on women’s hair — which looks more like a device for torture —cannons, clothes, and even an exhibit dedicated to the professional baseball player and manager Paul Richards. Some of the exhibits on display are interactive with films and audio clips accessible through wall-phones.

Visitors can purchase “love locks” at the museum to place on the Love Lock Wall  downtown. It is a renovated retention wall containing four 16-foot-long black fencing panels in a parking lot on the corner of Franklin and College streets. The fences are sprinkled with locks of all shapes and sizes.

The museum also provides a brochure for a self-guided walking history tour.

Along the way is Art on the Square at 113 West Franklin. It houses works of all mediums, from paintings in oils and acrylics to wire trees intricately wrapped around geode rocks.

Throughout downtown Waxahachie are big fiberglass hearts, painted by local artists, and in one spot there’s a giant kaleidoscope to look through and see pulsing images of shapes and colors.

For dinner, many guests enjoy the upscale Bistro 115 with a great view of the Ellis County courthouse, designated in the top 10 outstanding architectural achievements in Texas.

The intimate bistro blends New American Italian foods with Mediterranean influence, all completely made fresh from scratch.

The bruschetta appetizer is made with wood-fired flatbread that was brushed with herb-infused olive oil and served with San Marzano relish and olive tapenade.

A favorite entree is the Cajun Chicken Pasta, which includes fresh creamy fettuccine tossed in a Cajun cream sauce with grilled chicken, mushrooms, bell peppers, green onions and San Marzano tomatoes.

Besides good food, shopping, and sight seeing, the town offers stage performances by the Waxahachie Community Theatre. Remaining shows this year include Mama Mia, May 10-12; the Summer Showcase, July 26-28; Beauty and the Beast, October 25-27; and ending the season with Miracle on 34th Street, December 13-15.

Waxahachie is also home to some very unique bed and breakfasts, including the Chaska House, based in a beautiful historic building with author-themed bedrooms. Located on 716 West Main St, it is a good location to stay close to the downtown area.

There is also The English Merchant’s Inn, a quaint, picturesque English-style B&B based in a historic mansion.

Another good dining choice while in Waxahachie is White Rhino Coffee and Kitchen. This coffee house is a good place to chill out with a friend or find a nook to curl up in to read a good book. It is furnished in a very modern-rustic style, radiating “chill” vibes. Located in a renovated home, the shop has two stories with a library, meeting room, dining area, plenty of cushiony seats for sipping coffee, and an outdoor stage and patio for live entertainment. The menu features a series of craft coffees, specialty teas, lunch entrees, and freshly baked pastries and breads.

The gourmet pumpkin bread paired with a signature German chocolate coffee made with chocolate, almond, and coconut, topped with decorative steamed milk is a good place to start.

Their gourmet grilled cheese sandwich is made with smoked cheddar and Gruyere on toasted sourdough, and served with kettle chips.

Waxahachie is also home to a long list of annual events, festivals, and fairs. Upcoming is the Scarborough Renaissance Festival, April 6-May 27; Cinco de Mayo Festival, May 3-4; Gingerbread Trail Historic Home Tour, June 1-2; and the Crepe Myrtle Festival, July 3.

Waxahachie tends to stay a place in the heart for many who return as often as they can. Learn more about things to see and do there on waxahachiecvb.com.

 

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