Recently, a prominent Texan was quoted as saying that old Victoria is one of the prettiest places in Texas. After taking a quick mental tour around the Lone Star state, stopping at some of my favorite places along the way, I decided he was spot on. Founded by Martin de Leon in 1824 and with more than 100 landmarks and buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, old Victoria provides a charming home for residents and businesses and a stunning backdrop for festivals and special events. The distinctive design of architect Jules C. Leffland can be seen in many of the homes in old Victoria and noted Texas architect J. Riely Gordon designed the 1892 Victoria County courthouse, voted one of the ten favorite historic courthouses in Texas.
An easy way to explore our downtown is to pick up one of our new Old Victoria Driving Tour Guides here at the Victoria CVB Visitor Information Center and head on down Main Street to De Leon Plaza where the tour begins. The driving tour guide and map will help you wind your way through our historic downtown as well as provides a photograph and the story of each of the 84 truly amazing, historic buildings and sites included in the tour. It also describes a couple other important historic sites like Tonkawa Bank and Evergreen Cemetery and tells the story of why Victoria is known for La Calle de Los Diez Amigos, the Street of 10 friends.
I have the privilege of both living and working in old Victoria. I love to stomp around downtown, feeling history ooze between my toes or ride my bike through the neighborhoods, imagining the breeze is whispering stories of old as I pass by each gem. I confess a particular fondness for numbers 74 and 75 on the driving tour. Both of these grand old dames are survivors, for sure. They were built in Indianola and withstood the devastating 1886 hurricane after which time their owners wisely dismantled them and moved them to Victoria. I don’t mean to take away from the other historic buildings on the tour; each one is special with a fascinating story of its own.
Do yourself a huge favor and invite your favorite someone along on the old Victoria driving tour. Enjoy the beauty of Victoria and step back in time for just a little while.