Historic District Trolley Tours and Store Openings

What happened to the sun?  As I write this today, it is downright chilly and the sky is gray. It’s actually drizzling.  It’s almost as if yesterday was a preview of spring and we’ve gone back to winter. At this rate, by the time we get dependable warmth, it’s going to be more than we really want. 

But yesterday was  beautiful.  It was perfect weather for Local Yocal’s grand opening. They’ve been open in what is called a soft opening for awhile now but this makes it official. 

Local Yocal Grand Opening

Local Yocal Grand Opening

It looked like they were having tons of fun but I had a date with a trolley car and didn’t linger. I did stop by Sharla’s new storefront next door to Garrett Art Gallery.  They opened just recently, I think last week, and the place is absolutely gorgeous!  I plan on going back and asking if they’ll let me take pictures inside.  Ladies, they have hats! Big, beautiful hats. They said that they’d be getting in a big screen TV with whatever game is going so you’ll have a place to park the husband while you take it all in, and you’ll appreciate that when you see it because they have so much more than the hats.  The place is packed with lotions and accessories with cosmetics in the back. They even have some men’s accessories. Definitely a must stop on the square.

But, back to the trolley tour …

The trolley tours of the Historic District are a new offering by Chestnut Square and they are just getting off of the ground.  They started in February and will be running the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month except for July and August.  They are still working some kinks out but the content is there and it is definitely worth the fare to take in the trip.

Historic District Trolley Tour

Historic District Trolley Tour

The trolley begins at 11:00 and leaves out from Chestnut Square but they swing by the east side of the McKinney Performing Arts Center (the courthouse) and can pick you up from there as well.  I opted to be picked up at the Courthouse but I think it would be better to catch the trolley at Chestnut Square where the Farmer’s Market is underway at that time on a Saturday.  There is plenty of parking at Chestnut Square, the tour ends there and it is an easy two block walk to get back to the square if you want to extend  your sightseeing to take in some shopping on the square or to take in a little lunch at one of the restaurants there.  The trolley will go back to the square to drop you off if you want.

Historic District Trolley Tour

Historic District Trolley Tour

The trolley has comfortable seats, a powerful a/c and is beautifully appointed with wood panelling on the walls and ceilings and decorative flourishes on the windows.  The trolley operator managed some maneuvers I really didn’t think were possible, like turning left out of the Heard-Craig house’s driveway. 

Historic District Trolley Tour

Historic District Trolley Tour

The tour lasts an hour and fifteen minutes and focuses on houses on the north side of the Historic District.  The current route criss-crosses through the District, sometimes crossing back over its own path.  There is a dizzying array of houses on the tour which goes as far west as Waddill Street and as far north as Erwin Street.  You’ll have to give them some leeway on their route as they get familiarized with it.  Remember, they’ve only been doing this a short while. There are a number of houses in the District this weekend that must have been scratching their heads as they heard the “ding, ding” of the trolley backing up after having overshot an address. They haven’t had time yet to work out the subtle nuances of where to stop so that some of the houses aren’t obscured by their landscaping, but I’m confident that they’ll get there.

Historic District Trolley Tour

Historic District Trolley Tour

It can be challenging to take pictures from the trolley, but it’s not impossible.  I wanted elements of the trolley in my pictures since I knew I was going to do a blog post on the trolley tour but I did take this shot (below) from my window and I think it turned out pretty well, even though the camera was on auto.  An experienced photographer could do much better.

Historic District Trolley Tour

Historic District Trolley Tour

I would recommend not trying to focus on taking pictures though.  From my experience, if you are thinking about angles and light and obstructions, you lose a lot of the story the docent is telling about the house. The tour is packed with information, often provided by the homeowners themselves.  In fact, I plan on taking in the tour again just to relax and listen. 

An item of note announced on the tour, Wells Fargo is sponsoring stage coach rides at Chestnut Square.  I just happened to have this picture of the stage coach from last year.  I think it is one weekend a month but I couldn’t find any info on the website about it.  I’ll find out and update the Downtown activities page with the details.

Stagecoach Rides at Chestnut Square

Stagecoach Rides at Chestnut Square (photo from last year)

McKinney’s Historic District is a big place and the docent said that they will be offering a second tour soon that will feature the Historic District south of Louisiana/Virginia.  I am anxious to see that one come on-line because that side so often gets overlooked even though there is the beautiful Finch Park and the historic hospital over there as well as some beautiful old homes.  Maybe the next time the sun comes out, I’ll make it over there and take some photos.  I did find this promotional video for the historic hospital, now converted to a professional building, that gives a flavor of the building and catches some shots of the view from the building over the park.

With one of the largest Historic Districts in the state of Texas (Galveston is the biggest), are we finally starting to come into our own?  Yay for the tours! More! More! I heard Happy Trails Carriage Rides go by four times Friday evening. Based on comments from other trolley riders, it sounds like there may be a market out there for walking tours. The city does have two different tours posted on their web site but no one offering guided walking tours at present. 

Until next time,

Happy Shopping!

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