The Wills Cabin
William Wills who the town was named after, was the first pioneer to build in the area in 1848. The family originally had their homestead on Highway 64 and Van Zandt County Road 3415 which is known as the Dallas Shreveport Road. It was moved in 1937 then moved again in 1954 before it came to its last site at Bruce Park. The homestead is only open by appointment.
Buried at White Rose Cemetery
William Wills died at the age of 60 in 1864 and was buried at a family plot. His wife before her death in 1892, donated 8 acres of the land around the plot to be used as a community cemetery for the town which became White Rose Cemetery. The land was later expanded again and is now state regulated.
The Blacksmith Shop
The Wills family also had a blacksmith’s shop. Mr Wills used to make saddles and bridles and also built corrals for herds that were being driven to market. As a commissioner and tax assessor-collector, he would travel all over the country by horseback.
Made of Hewn Logs
The old dog-trott cabin which is built of logs hewn on both sides, has been well preserved by the residents of Wills Point. In 1996 archaeologists began digging into the earth where it was believed that the Wills’ cabin first stood. They came across pottery, handles and an axe handle as well as little wheels from furniture.
The Old Smokehouse
There was a real attempt to arrange the homestead in a layout that it would have been originally set. There is an old smokehouse which sits up behind the cabin to the left. This was where a fire was built in a stone box next to the building where freshly butchered meats were hung for the families consumption.
Bruce Park is just a tiny little 3 acre city park across from the railroad tracks. The park is set up in the example of the Wills home as it was laid out. There is the family home, a blacksmith shop, a smoke house, corral and of course an outhouse. What was not part of the family homestead is a 30 x 40 ft pavilion is which used for private functions.
The First Christian Church
The church was originally founded by Reverend John T. Poe in 1882 although the building was not built until 1886. In 1920 when it was remodeled the belfry was removed. There is a historical marker outside the church which was dedicated in 1987.
The Old Rose Dry Goods Store
In the early days of Wills Point, the streets were dirt and carved by wagon wheel ruts. Horse and buggies parked in front of the old Rose Dry Goods store. The store was right down from the railroad tracks. The old building is an Antiques and collectibles store today.
The old Wills Point Railroad Depot sits right on Hwy 80 on the north side of the tracks. Apparently there is a basement with narrow passages which were decorated and used as a haunted house during Halloween. The railroad came to Wills Point at around 1872.
Bruce & Human Drug Company
The name of this drug store caught my eye and my sense of humour. The store has been on this corner since 1879 and is one of Van Zandt County's oldest businesses. Originally established by B.W. Bruce and even today, the business is still owned and operated by the family. I am not sure where the 'Human' side of the name came from.
The store has quite a collection of anything bluebird - official bluebird houses and crystal statuettes. They also have historical items and antiques on display as well as an old fashioned soda fountain and ice cream parlor.
The Rose Monument
You cannot miss the stark white Rose Monument, it sits right in the middle of Fourth and Commerce Street in the downtown area. The monument was donated to the city by I.E. Rose. In this part of historic downtown, the streets are still in the original old red brick.
This is supposed to be the oldest theatre in continuous operation in the Texas, maybe even the USA. The Lybrand family own and operate the theatre and have done for a few generations after the existing owner's grandfather got started in the movie business in 1907 and built the theatre.
The theatre has run in continuous service since 1926. Any modernisation has been kept to a minimum over the years to keep the nostalgia. Movies are only $3.00 for first runs - pretty good deal.
The Old Caboose
The old railroad caboose was given to the city by the Union Pacific Railroad company in 1990. After being restored and repainted the caboose was brought to Ollie Webb Park to be displayed. It is mean to represent the important role that the railroad played, as with most small towns, in the development and growth of Wills Point.
The Caboose now serves as a hospitality center for visitors.
A Rest Stop for Travellers
William and Mary Ann Wills were very well known for their hospitality. Many who travelled the Dallas-Shreveport Road would rest their oxen and cattle at their homestead.
W.H. Wingo Building
This cute little brick building was built in 1917 by W.H. Wingo. It is one of the oldest landmarks in Wills point. It is now the office of Century 21.