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A walking tour of Hallettsville

By ALLISON MILES
Aug. 24, 2013 at 3:24 a.m.
Updated Aug. 26, 2013 at 3:26 a.m.

This AH-1 Cobra helicopter, which sits next to the Hallettsville Chamber of Commerce, includes a plaque that lists six Lavaca County men who gave their lives in the Vietnam War.

From its old, restored buildings to its mom-and-pop businesses, on to memorial sites and more, there's plenty to see in Hallettsville if you know where to look.

This historic town plays home to some interesting finds, and most are easily reachable on foot.

Here are some walking tour suggestions for those looking to learn a little something about Lavaca County.

Lavaca County Courthouse

109 N. La Grange St.

Construction began on this three-story courthouse in April 1897, and the building was dedicated in July 1899. A recent renovation restored the building's old-time beauty for newer generations to enjoy.

Courtrooms and county offices aren't the only things for visitors to glimpse, however. An old wooden safe, a steel step from the building's demolished fire escape and other antique remnants are also available for the public to view.

The courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cole Theatre

207 E. Second St.

This modern-day movie theater has historic roots in downtown Hallettsville.

While the theater originally opened in 1926, it moved to its current location three years later and spent decades entertaining - and informing via newsreel - the crowds who walked through its doors.

The building fell into disrepair with time but underwent a renovation during the 1990s that earned its owners/restorers, Bill and Barbara Orsak, recognition from the National Association of Theater Operators.

Today, you can still order a popcorn, grab up a drink and take in the latest movies the industry has to offer.

Hallettsville Cultural Events Center

115 N. Main St.

Housed inside the historic Kahn & Stanzel Building, this up-and-coming center brings a bit of the arts to Lavaca County. Organizers host poetry readings, music concerts, photography exhibits and the like and are always looking for new ways to expand their reach within the community.

Snacks and Southern-style beverages such as lemonade and iced tea are on hand any time the building is open, said Nancy Braus, who works with the center.

She encouraged visitors to stop in for a game of checkers or simply to sit and talk in the place she proudly describes as "a large, comfortable living room."

Fair warning: you won't find any TV or plastic plates here. Instead, they strive to keep the old-world feel.

Men's barbershop

209 N. La Grange St.

Step in for a haircut at this Hallettsville shop and you'll find yourself seated in the 98-year-old barber chair which once belonged to owner Russell Honish's grandfather. While Honish - who comes from a family of barbers, as depicted in wall-mounted family photos - offers up a variety of $12 cuts, you can't get a flat top. It's the one style Honish said he never quite mastered.

One added bonus: you might be privy to a haircut special.

Honish recalled telling a 90-year-old customer who stopped in on his birthday that cuts were free for those age 100 and older.

"He got a year of free haircuts," he said with a smile.

Alfred's Produce

215 N. La Grange St.

The hanging scale inside this Hallettsville feed and ag supply store might be more than 100 years old, but it isn't the only throwback to the good old days. Owner Dennis "Tiny" Chovanetz runs the business much the same way his dad did when he opened in 1955.

There are no computers, and everything's done by hand.

A chat with Chovanetz might prove educational to the young agriculturist as well, as his longtime knowledge includes some lesser-known facts.

He says the moon cycle plays a role in knowing when to dehorn cattle, for instance, and he talks about tarantulas' roles in predicting rain.

Lavaca Historical Museum

1205 N. Texana St.

This stop on the tour offers visitors a glimpse into the Hallettsville of the past. Once housed in a historic home, this museum moved to its updated location on Texana Street in recent years. Historic pictures, antique items and an array of displays adorn the space, offering a first-hand look at life years ago.

Vietnam Veterans Monument

1614 N. Texana St.

This AH-1 Cobra helicopter, which sits next to the Hallettsville Chamber of Commerce, includes a plaque that lists six Lavaca County men who gave their lives in the Vietnam War. Still, the monument's reach extends beyond Vietnam. It pays tribute to all those - past, present and future - who served during war times.

"May God bless all," it reads.

Sources: Russell Honish, owner of the men's barbershop; Dennis "Tiny" Chovanetz, owner of Alfred's Produce; Nancy Braus with the Hallettsville Cultural Events Center; Hallettsville Chamber of Commerce website.

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