For years, they’ve been “local legends.”
Now, they are officially “Texas Treasures.”
That’s the name of the honor presented to a pair of local businesses Wednesday by the Texas Historical Commission, as Corsicana’s Old Mexican Inn and Corley Funeral Home were recognized with the Texas Treasure Business Award.
The program pays tribute to businesses that have provided employment opportunities and support to the state’s economy for 50 years or more.
Both businesses honored Wednesday certainly fit the requirements — Corley Funeral Home dates back to 1878 in Mexia, and to 1929 in Corsicana; Old Mexican Inn traces its beginnings back to the corner of Seventh and Beaton Streets in 1941.
Julius Flores was joined by two more generations of family members for the presentation by State Rep. Byron Cook on behalf of the Texas Historical Commission.
“The community has always been here for us, and we’re glad to be here,” Flores said in accepting the award. “We’ve seen Corsicana grow and we’ve grown at the same time.”
Best known for its secret-formula “orange dip” which began as a salad dressing, the Old Mexican Inn originally opened in 1941 just off Beaton and Seventh Avenue. The move to the present location on West Seventh Avenue was made in 1965.
In a 2009 interview, family matriarch Caroline Flores said she borrowed $500 from a friend to start the business. Their first dinner — enchiladas, and they ran out early, she said.
“You’re a ‘Texas Treasure’ but the Old Mexican Inn has been a ‘Corsicana and Navarro County Treasure’ for forever,” Cook said. “We’ve all grown with you.”
Flores thanked his family members, employees, and the customers that have supported the restaurant for 73 years and counting.
“We are very, very proud of this,” he said.
The original Corley Funeral Home was established in 1878 in Mexia by John R. Corley Sr., and as most funeral homes did in that era it began as a furniture store that offered funeral supplies, coffins, livery service and “undertaking” services.
The elder Corley had two sons that followed in his footsteps, and John R. Corley Jr. purchased the present Corsicana location of Corley Funeral Home in 1929. He was joined by his son, John R. (Bob) Corley III after the younger Corley finished school and military service.
In 2009, Ron and Suzanne Smith purchased Corley Funeral Home and today it is still located in the stately facility at Second Avenue and 13th Street. Several additions have been made through the years, and the facility now encompasses approximately 17,000 square feet as it enters its 85th year of service to Corsicana.
“Corley Funeral Home has been an important part of the fabric of Corsicana since 1929,” Cook said. “I am pleased to present this award to Ron and Suzanne Smith in appreciation for the significance of Corley Funeral Home to our community.”
“It is such an honor to receive this recognition from the Texas Historical Commission, and I accept it on behalf of the Corley families; three generations that built this fine business,” Ron Smith said.
“It’s a privilege also for Suzanne and I to be the proud owners of such a historic funeral home, one of the few remaining of its kind in the State of Texas. But most of all we thank the good people of Corsicana and Navarro County for their loyalty and trust over all the years.”
Cook said the Texas Treasure designation was very appropriate for the two businesses honored Wednesday.
“The award recognizes companies that have had a long tenure of investment, community involvement and have been a part of this community for a long time,” Cook said. “Both of these are Corsicana traditions.”
A third Corsicana business — Oil City Iron Works — is scheduled to receive the Texas Treasure Business Award on July 21.
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For years, they’ve been “local legends.”
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