The Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce and its partners have worked to shine the spotlight on Nacogdoches. The result is several major awards for the community. Here are recent examples:
Take a walk through the formal 19th century rose garden at the Old University Building, and feel the elegance and serenity of that time. Tour Nacogdoches from two of the oldest thoroughfares in North America, then stroll along the old brick streets of the beautifully landscaped town square and experience the charm of the many shops and quaint restaurants.
In addition to preserving the state’s horticultural heritage, many of the gardens in Nacogdoches allow visitors to look forward in time. Visit Stephen F. Austin State University, home to 12,772 students and the Mast Arboretum, an 18-acre showplace dedicated to testing and promoting new plants for the landscape and nursery industry.
The many green spaces across Nacogdoches also provide an opportunity to pause and enjoy the present. Explore the Lanana Creek Trail, which links the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden to the Piney Woods Native Plant Center, and wander leisurely through a breathtakingly diverse collection of plants, from stately Japanese maples to the elegant yet hardy species native to the region.
Nacogdoches Named the Garden Capital of Texas — By Greg Grant
It’s official. The oldest town in Texas, is now the garden capital of Texas. A bill authored by District 11 State Representative Travis Clardy was signed by Texas Governor Rick Perry on May 2, 2013 designating Nacogdoches as the Garden Capital of Texas. At a ribbon cutting and dedication held at the Stephen F. Austin State University Pineywoods Native Plant Center, author, historian, and father of the LaNana Creek trail, Professor Ab Abernathy made the following speech.
Nacogdoches is a garden city. It was named after its first gardeners, the Nacogdoches tribe of the Caddo Indians. Thirteen hundred years ago the Nacogdoches Indians lived on the high ground between the two full-flowing, spring-fed creeks. Their name, Nacogdoches, meant “from the place of the high ground” (some sources say “persimmon eaters”). The Spanish came to the place on the high ground between the two creeks in 1716. They named the creek on the east La Nana, meaning “the Nurse,” and the one on the west La Banita, “The Little Bath.” The first gardeners--the first agrarian culture in Texas—were these Caddos, who brought gardening with them from their eastern homes. They raised corn, squash, and pumpkins. They cultivated a variety of beans, sunflowers, and tobacco; and they created the strongest and most advanced Indian culture in Texas.
The Nacogdoches Caddos gardened on the high ground between the two creeks for well over a thousand years. The Spanish learned the Caddo’s gardening ways, and added a dimension of herbs and spices to the garden plots. Anglo settlers began coming to and through the Gateway to Texas in the early 1800s. In 1832 at the Battle of Nacogdoches they ended Spanish military control in all of East Texas. In 1836, after the Battle of San Jacinto, Nacogdoches became a settlement in the Republic of Texas, and after 1846 Nacogdoches became a city in the Lone Star State in the United States. In the 1830s, during the troublesome, birthing times of Texas, Nacogdoches gardened. C.A. Sterne describes Adolphus Sterne’s home:
“My father took great pride and interest in his gardens and orchard. There were three gardens on the place. The one on the north was devoted to flowers, with a great variety of roses and rare shrubs and plants, which he had brought from Louisiana, and which had been imported from France.”
“In the center of the garden was a summer house, which was covered with morning glories and multiflora roses. The fence was covered with woodbine and yellow jasmine. The south garden had vegetables of every variety. The west garden was the orchard with a variety of fruit trees and a butter bean arbor running the entire width of the garden. My father often resorted to the butter bean arbor to read and study.”
When Frederick Law Olmsted (designer of Central Park, The Biltmore® Estate landscape, etc.) came to Nacogdoches in 1853, he said of the town: “The houses along the road…stand in gardens, and are neatly painted--the first exterior sign of cultivation of mind since the Red River.”
Nacogdoches became a modern town in the 20th century with parks and landscaping. It became a city of prosperous houses and ornamental gardens along the Camino Real. Its grandest show of flowers and foliage, however, developed around the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University (founded in 1923 as Stephen F. Austin State Teacher’s College). The SFA campus was from its beginning a flourishing garden of blooming plants and flowering trees and shrubs. SFA now is the center of the most prosperous and prominent set of flowering gardens in the State of Texas. SFA hosts the largest azalea garden in the state and Nacogdoches was named the first Azalea City in America.
The university is home to the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, the Mast Arboretum, the Gayla Mize Garden, the Kingham Children’s Garden, and the SFA Recreational Trails and Gardens. Collectively these gardens contain the state’s largest botanical collections of azaleas, baldcypress, boxwood, camellias, gardenias, hollies, hydrangeas, magnolias, and maples. For more information on these gardens visit sfagardens.sfasu.edu.
In addition to a number of public parks and walking trails, Nacogdoches is also home to the Durst-Taylor Historic House and Gardens, the Adolphus Sterne Museum and Gardens, and the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden.
In concluding his speech Dr. Abernathy went on to say:
The development of the beauty of gardens, parks, and trails is not for the purpose of luring tourists or improving business, although both areas will profit from such ventures. Natural beauty is encouraged for its own sake and for the fact that life among gardens, trees, flowers, and flowing water is richer and kinder than life among strip malls and parking lots. The Garden Capital of our beautiful and beloved Nacogdoches deserves no less than to be a setting for such a life.
100 Best Communities for Young People
In 2008 Nacogdoches County received the distinguished award of “100 Best Communities for Young People” by America’s Promise Alliance. The Alliance was founded by General Colin Powell and his wife, Alma, to improve the lives of children. The selection committee began with over 300 applications. America’s Promise looked at areas across the community that helped provide the Alliance’s Five Promises to young people. The Five Promises are: Caring Adults; Safe Places; A Healthy Start; Effective Education; and Opportunities to Help Others.
Nacogdoches County was selected as one of the 100 Best because of the community's multiple efforts to help its young people succeed and the way the county has involved youth in its decision making.
A prime example is the County Youth Board. This board helps county extension agents determine which programs to implement, reviews the educational impacts of programs, determines how to reach new youth audiences, and helps decide whether task forces or coalitions are needed to address priority issues.
The community is equally committed to ensuring its youth learn about the community while discovering different career options.
The Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce and the City of Nacogdoches partner to organize the Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) Crew. LOT takes eighth-graders on once-a-month full-day field trips into the community to learn about health care, higher education, manufacturing, natural resources, military and other career paths. The City of Nacogdoches Parks and Recreation Department provides staffing and coordination of the LOT program.
GO TEXAN Certified Retirement Community
Nacogdoches is one of the first three Go Texan Certified Retirement Communities.
The GO TEXAN Certified Retirement Community Program is a certification and promotion program provided by the Texas Department of Agriculture. To become a certified retirement community, Nacogdoches completed a rigorous application process including a retiree desirability assessment. Each application is reviewed and scored by an independent advisory committee comprised of volunteers who are experienced in various aspects of community and economic development.
The GO TEXAN stamp of approval ensures each certified community has demonstrated that it can meet the living, employment/volunteer, health, entertainment, education and safety needs of its citizens and visitors - all the things that make Texas a great place to retire. About four dozen Texas communities have achieved the certification.
Film Friendly Texas Community
A partnership of the City of Nacogdoches, Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce and the Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) created effective film guidelines that help speed permits and cuts through red tape.
Main Street Director Amy Mehaffey is designated as the point person for film location inquiries. The Chamber and CVB assist as needed.
Filmmakers and location scouts have a fast-track to locate shooting sites, get permits, find accommodations, service providers and answers to many questions. By creating city Film Guidelines, filmmakers are able to know policies on use of public properties, learn insurance requirements, secure location agreements, and have assistance on notifying property owners and tenants.
Heart and Stroke Healthy City
The Heart and Stroke Healthy City Recognition Program is based on proven interventions that have made a significant difference in increasing physical activity and better eating habits, as well as reducing tobacco use, and decreasing response time to heart attacks and strokes.
1. Cardiovascular disease and stroke ongoing public information campaigns are provided in the community.
2. Physical activity areas are designated, safe, accessible and promoted.
3. Healthy food options are accessible and promoted.
4. Public schools (grades K-8) comply with all legislated components of a coordinated school health program and daily physical activity and high schools offer an evidence-based health curriculum. Worksite wellness programs are available to the majority of employees.
5. A comprehensive tobacco control program is in place that includes a 100 % smoke free city smoking ordinance.
6. A plan is in place to reduce disparities in CVD and stroke.
7. Training programs are in place to improve the rate of bystander CPR and use of AEDs.
8. Defibrillators (Manual and/or Automated External) are available to first responders and the emergency system of care maintains a rapid response time for cardiac events.
9. Stroke is treated as a medical emergency in the community and appropriate acute stroke treatment protocols are in place.
10. Health Sites in the Community Promote Primary and Secondary Prevention of CVD and Stroke.
Healthy Nacogdoches Coalition
Mission: The Healthy Nacogdoches Coalition is a committed group of community advocates who facilitate positive change to improve the health of the Nacogdoches Community.
Vision: Members of the Nacogdoches Community will embrace a healthier lifestyle.
The Healthy Nacogdoches Coalition will work to meet the following objectives:
- Promote policies and environmental strategies that increase physical activity, promote nutrition, and decrease tobacco use in Nacogdoches.
- Achieve and maintain Heart and Stroke Healthy City Recognition from the Texas Council on CVD and Stroke.
- Support ongoing chronic disease prevention and health promotion programs.
Tree City USA
The Tree City USA program has been greening up cities and towns across America since 1976. It is a nationwide movement that provides the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their public trees.
To qualify as a Tree City USA community, Nacogdoches meets standards established by the Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters. Nacogdoches is committed to keeping four core standards of sound urban forestry management: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.