Tyler's Half-Mile of History gets two new additions

the Tyler Woman's Building
the Tyler Woman's Building

At today's City Council meeting, the council decided to honor both Wood T. Brookshire and the Tyler Woman's Building by adding them to the Tyler Half-Mile of History honorees.

The Half-Mile of History program is an outdoor heritage trail that surrounds Tyler's square. Stone monuments are embedded in the sidewalk in recognition of people, places or events that played a large role in Tyler's history.

"The Woman's Building and Mr. Brookshire have each made important contributions to Tyler's history," said Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass.  "I am pleased that we have the Half Mile of History Program to highlight their place in our past and their ongoing contributions to our future."

History of the Tyler Woman's Building (courtesy the city of Tyler):

The Tyler Woman's Building has been a civic and social gathering place for all of Tyler's citizenry for more than seventy-five years and has contributed to the community in many ways.

During World War II, the building served as a meeting place to roll bandages and to sell war bonds.  The third floor was also converted into apartments for use by soldiers and their families.  Then in the fifties, the building was used as a place to educate young women in the fine art of etiquette and manners. The building's gardens are also highlighted as a "must see" for the City's Azalea Trails annual celebration.   And, in years past the Texas Rose Festival has used the building for some of its formal functions.

Located at 911 South Broadway in Tyler, the Woman's building was completed on June 13, 1932.  It inception was prompted by various charitable, social and educational women groups who met in the homes of prominent Tyler citizens during the 1920's.

Several Tyler women at the time had an ambitious dream to provide a community building to address the needs of these growing groups. In 1923, the Tyler Women's Forum was organized.  This group, led by Mrs. Alex Woldert went about finding a location for the Woman's Building.

Finally, in 1931, Judge and Mrs. Sam Lindsey donated the large wooded lot on South Broadway that would become the home of the Woman's Building.  Landscaping for the grounds was completed by donations and volunteers under the direction of Mrs. W.S. Hanley.

Wood T. Brookshire (courtesy the city of Tyler):

Wood T. Brookshire moved to Tyler in 1928 and opened his first store on the east side of the downtown square. This small 2,500 square feet store would prove to be the cornerstone for today's Brookshire Grocery Company.

The company had the distinction of operating the first air-conditioned grocery store in East Texas, at the corner of Front Street and Broadway. Today, Brookshire Grocery Company has more than 150 supermarkets operating in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi. As the company grew, Brookshire's opened its first warehouse on Dean Street in 1953.

Under Mr. Brookshire's leadership the company has thrived and currently operates three distribution facilities with more than two million square feet, and employs approximately 12,000 people (of which 2,500 are in Smith County). The Tyler Distribution Center opened its current location on South Loop 323 in 1968.

In addition to providing fair-priced products of the highest quality for Tyler consumers, Mr. Brookshire was the director of the Tyler Chamber of Commerce in 1945 and served on the Tyler School Board from 1941 to 1950.

Brookshire also built the Brookshire's World of Wildlife Museum and Country Store in Tyler, which hosts more than 40,000 visitors annually. With Mr. Brookshire's strong belief in being involved in the Tyler community, Brookshire's Company continues its commitment in helping local charities and schools.

To make a nomination to the Half-Mile of History program, please visit the www.CityofTyler.org and go to the Planning and Zoning Department's page or call (903) 531-1175.

Cathryn Khalil / ckhalil@kltv.com