Ben Wheeler celebrates revitalization

Released by the Veronica Terres with Ben Wheeler Development Company:

BEN WHEELER, TX – Less than a year ago the main street of downtown Ben Wheeler stood quietly still, with little-to-no hustle and bustle, barely any traffic, and virtually no signs of community and retail life.

What a difference a year makes.

Today, Ben Wheeler's downtown isn't just alive with the sights and sounds of the season, it's also ringing with the sounds of revitalization, community pride and future economic opportunity.

Because of the efforts of Ben Wheeler Arts & Historic District Foundation, a 501 (C) 3 organization founded to revitalize and renovate the downtown by passionate residents Rese and Brooks Gremmels, Ben Wheeler is now home to an eclectic group of artisan shops and businesses including: restaurant and live music venue, Moore's Store, The County Line Magazine, Flying Fish Gallery, Harrison & Son Knifesmith and Sojourn Gallery.

And during tonight's 2009 Ben Wheeler Christmas Celebration – the town's newest shops – Antiques & Texas Heritage owned by KLTV's Joan Hallmark and Carolyn West and, WhimZee, a women's and children's boutique by Laura West make their debut.

The Christmas Celebration themed: "An Old Fashioned Christmas" takes place downtown from 6-8 p.m.

Aside from welcoming the newest shopkeepers, guests will be able to stroll through the beautifully decorated and lit-up streets and listen to the joyful caroling voices of well-known, acapella vocal jazz group Clearly Vocal as they sing Christmas classics, dawning period attire. Or for those ready to put their own vocal chords to the test, singer, Linda Heatley will lead a group sing-a-long on stage at Moore's Store. Those who participate will take home a small keepsake songbook.

While guests shop and tour the artisans' stores they can treat themselves to a bit of eggnog, hot chocolate and other holiday delights.

Parents need to be sure to bring a camera to capture a special moment of their child visiting with Santa—and everyone is encouraged to bring an ornament to place on the community Christmas tree.

There is no charge to attend the event.

For more information about the Old Fashioned Christmas in downtown visit or call 903.833.1070.

In a community with a thousand or so nearby residents, Ben Wheeler Development Company, LLC (BWDC) and Ben Wheeler Arts & Historic District Foundation (BWA & HDF) is planning music venues, multiple entertainment porches, new restaurants, new shops and various businesses. A fully restored downtown park complete with gazebos is also planned to be part of Ben Wheeler's renewal.

Ben Wheeler, named for the first man to carry mail into Van Zandt County, thrived during the late 1800s and early 1900s as families arrived in horse-drawn wagons, rode horses, or walked to visit, get mail, buy supplies, and sell or trade goods at one of the several general stores. The community included churches, barbers, blacksmiths, tailors, saddle and shoe shop, several gins and mills, a bank, the Berry Resort Hotel, boarding houses, a movie theater, lumber yard, a garage with gas pumps eventually, cafes, a school, and even a college at one time called the Alamo Institute. Ben Wheeler shrank after World War II as many people left for large cities to find work.