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Pilot Point’s history needs preserving

Pilot Point’s downtown area has long been known for being the film location of Bonnie and Clyde, featuring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

The community celebrates that history with an annual Bonnie & Clyde Days in October.

But there’s much more to downtown Pilot Point. The square has many of the buildings built as the town developed and grew in the late 1800s.

A building at 201 S. Jefferson St. in Pilot Point tells the tale of the town’s history with its varied tenants ranging from a two-story hotel to a Laundromat. A crudely painted sign on one of its pillars spells out “grocery” as a reflection of yet another tenant.

But as time passed, the building began to crumble from the inside out and was donated to the city by a local historian and resident.

Pilot Point city officials agreed to turn the building into a city museum, hoping to use it as a showcase for the city’s store of artifacts, memorabilia and documents from days gone by.

Officials decided the first phase needed to involve removing the ceiling and second floor, rotted from the moist air of a former tenant.

Now mostly gutted with the first phase to be finished in October, the building awaits a second phase of renovations to rebuild the interior.

But when that happens depends on available monies in the city’s capital program. A recent report revealed the project could take until 2016 to complete with early estimates bringing the total cost to $145,000 to create the Pilot Point museum.

The preservation of history is an important part of a community’s history and, in Pilot Point, that history was displayed for more than a decade on the walls of Jay’s Café and Museum by resident Jay Melugin, who owned the eatery filled with more than 1,000 historical remnants.

But the restaurant caught fire and closed, though the owner donated the items to the city. Most were saved from flaming destruction, boxed up and stored for later use.

Pilot Point has long caught our eye for its history, and we’re glad to see city officials taking it seriously with the new museum.

At the apex of U.S. Highway 377 and FM455, the city sits atop a ridge once covered with oak trees and a tall cottonwood used as a landmark among Native Americans, Texas Rangers and others passing through, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

It is also where a team of farmers and ranchers created a group known as The Regulators, recounted in Western movies and a television series.

When the Missouri Pacific Railroad moved in during the 1880s, the town began to attract settlers, many German Catholics attracted to the city through promotional literature by Emil Flusche, who founded other colonies, including Muenster.

As a recent team of planners told city officials earlier this year, saving the city’s rich history goes beyond a museum or even the downtown Square.

We encourage both city officials and residents to preserve that history now before too much time passes and the remnants of a past era crumbles beyond repair.