DEVOTED TO DOWNTOWN TEXARKANA, DAVID PEAVY BELIEVES IN PRESERVING OUR COMMUNITY’S HISTORY
by JENNIFER JORDAN
“People say that they think ‘outside the box.’ I say, ‘I didn’t know there was a box.’” This comment from Texarkana businessman David Peavy describes his outlook in a nutshell. David has always been forward- thinking, whether in developing his electrical businesses or in restoring the 1894 City Market and The Flying Crow Railcar downtown. He sees a need, and he figures out how to make it work.
David has lived in Texarkana almost his entire life and is devoted to our community. He has two sons, Nicolas, and Aaron, who is married to Mallory. He also has a 3-year-old granddaughter named Blair. After earning an Electrical Engineering degree, David became a Master Electrician and has been running Artex Electric and Service First Electrical and Plumbing since the early 1980s. He also developed several local shopping centers and has bought and sold properties throughout the city. David has given much time to serving on the boards of local organizations and schools. He helped to start Run the Line with John and Julie-Ray Harrison.
David took a serious interest in Downtown Texarkana when Ina McDowell asked him to move Second Saturday Trade Days to downtown. “I studied locations and found there is no coherency to our downtown. Looking at the Old Ritchie Grocery building, I could see the beauty behind the rotting boards and bricks falling out of the walls,” he explains. “I saw an opportunity to make things better, to renew, to rebuild, to create a new beginning for a neglected building, and neglected downtown.”
David’s major project is the 1894 City Market and The Flying Crow Railcar on the Arkansas side. “We are creating a recreational campus with the City Market building and The Flying Crow train car. The city has been wonderful working with us to recreate this area. We are both on the same side of building a place of destination for our citizens and their visitors, as well as tourists coming through on the interstate.” David remarks that the name “1894 City Market” is designed to call attention to the time period in which the building was constructed. In 1894, “Oklahoma was Indian territory, and railroads were being built like cellphone towers are today. Texarkana has not always paid attention to its rich and colorful history so 1894 calls attention each time it’s spoken.”
The 1894 City Market already houses Market Days (formerly Second Saturday Trade Days) and boasts an art gallery that features local artists.
Showcasing regional and local artists, the gallery exhibits “paintings, blown glass, from our area,” David avers. “The Gallery can be transformed in 15 minutes into an event venue by raising the paintings up on a motorized cable system.” On its upper levels, the building offers loft apartments. “We have a waiting list for our third floor lofts, but are waiting on bankers to finish that area,” David continues. Future plans for the building are exciting. “We will soon have office space available on the second floor. We will possibly add three overnight and extended stay bed and breakfast suites. We will also have an event area themed from 1971.” Another themed area – in the basement – will focus on the Prohibition era. The plan is to call it “1923” to reflect that year. David is working on a script for a live production to be performed in the 1923 speakeasy. It focuses on a high-stakes poker game that could have occurred in the Grim Hotel. “We are also in talks with retail businesses and a restaurant for the first floor. That floor will also have additional gallery and studio spaces,” David says.
Plans for The Flying Crow Railcar are equally enticing. The railcar was built in 1939 as a luxury lounge car. It traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles. “The train was called the Train of the Stars as many Hollywood celebrities traveled back East in this train car,” David states. He plans to house a diner-style restaurant and is in talks with local restaurants about leasing the railcar and the railroad station.
David draws on a diverse group of people as inspiration for his vision. He enjoys walking around downtown, visiting with people in and out of the businesses and restaurants. “I pull from everyone.
Whether it’s masters in business or even a good attitude of a homeless person, I am always learning from people.” He continues, “I’m inspired by the people that give all they have, those that run into the battle instead of away from it. I get emotional with the movies that show that, like the main character in ‘Hacksaw Ridge,’ or Tom Hanks’ character in ‘Bridge of Spies’ ... real people that give their all without reservation.”
This upbeat attitude informs David’s perspective in preserving our community’s history. Reflecting upon the 1894 City Market, he remarks, “This piece of history was literally falling down. Putting it back together is gratifying, finding old signatures, old cans, and bottles. It is the closest thing to actual time travel: walking on 125-year-old floors, knowing the timber barons that once lived here, like the Buchanans, Bottoms, Foukes, Whatleys, Cabes and many more, that were walking around and creating businesses and a new city. Learning stories of Adolphus Busch, of Anheuser-Busch coming to Texarkana in the early 1890s and loaning Mr. Mullins $15,000 to help build our building. And I say our building because it is all of Texarkana’s building.” David sees the 1894 City Market as a connection between the past, present, and future. “As I say, others have owned this building and others will again someday. I want to be a good caretaker during the time it is entrusted to me.”
Restoring the building is not without challenges. “One banker literally told me, ‘We see the cash flow, we love the project, we just don’t believe in downtown,’” David recalls. “I have had to borrow on my other properties to finance this project. The banking delays have been most frustrating.” Yet, David does not let these difficulties stop him from pursuing his dream. As one of his favorite Scriptures states, “I will wait on the Lord to see what He will do for me.”
When David is not working on his downtown projects, he likes to get away to the cabin on the Little Missouri River to fish for trout and photograph wildlife. Painting is also a creative outlet for him. He relishes “setting up a blank canvas and knowing I can create anything, a freedom from preconceived thoughts, a freedom to create. As I was created by a Creator in that Creator’s image, I believe the will to create comes from that master Creator.” This will to create has served David well, motivating him to make his vision a reality. He could not put it more simply: “When someone asks why did I take on this building renovation? I say, ‘because I saw it needed to be done.’”