The Temple Chamber of Commerce recently unveiled an Official State Historical Marker in the Santa Fe Plaza adding more historic significance to the landscape and honoring the organization’s business and civic engagement.
As one of the most visible programs of the Texas Historical Commission (THC), historical markers commemorate diverse topics in Texas history, including community organizations that changed the course of local and state history.
The current marker program began in 1962 as a way to boost heritage tourism and overtime has undergone many changes making the approval process more competitive. The THC only approves up to 175 applications each year for the designation and marker. Each application is ranked and scored according to the broad historical themes relating to Texas history.
The Temple Chamber of Commerce began the application process for the marker in 2018 with the help of local historian Patricia Benoit. The organization was awarded the designation in 2019, where only 170 markers out of 256 were approved.
The application for the Temple Chamber of Commerce, which was founded in 1907 as the Temple Commercial Club, focused on long-term community service and continuing projects to promote the city and its quality of life. Receiving the marker and designation showcase the organization as being historically significant to Bell County and the state.
The Temple Chamber of Commerce marker is located in the Santa Fe Plaza in front of the Santa Fe Business Center and reads:
“By the early 19th century, Chambers of Commerce, first called Boards of Trade or Commercial Clubs, flourished in many major U.S. cities. The goals were to gather economic data and research, influence legislation, serve as a court of commercial arbitration, act as a semi-official adjunct to local government, and promote the local economy.
On April 30, 1907, a crowd gathered at the Elks Club to form a citywide commercial club. Local merchant Andrew Jackson Jarrell (1860-1935) was elected the first president of the club. The organization immediately began work on paving downtown muddy sidewalks, promoting shopping, negotiating new transportation opportunities, and producing marketing materials for the City of Temple. The club also was influential in gaining the Blackland experiment station which encouraged other businesses to move to Temple and Bell County.
In 1912, the Temple Commercial Club merged with the Young Men’s Business Club to form the Temple Chamber of Commerce. Over the years, the Chamber participated in supporting citizens of Bell County with fundraising campaigns, military support efforts during both world wars and the establishment of Temple Junior College. The Chamber also negotiated placement of Camp Hood (now Fort Hood), McCloskey General Hospital (now Olin E. Teague Veterans Center), Lake Belton and many more projects. All of these led to industrial, medical and transportation growth in Temple and Bell County. For over a century, the Temple Chamber of Commerce has provided essential leadership to attract economic development to the city.”