Paris, Texas, the seat of Lamar County, sits in the central part of the county where the Red and Sulphur rivers separate. Originally called Pinhook, historic records indicate that the first settlements were established in 1824, and George W. Wright founded the town in 1844 when he donated 50 acres of land and voters designated the area the county seat. The Congress of the Republic of Texas incorporated Paris in 1845. Thomas Poteet, one of Wright’s employees, renamed the city Paris after its incorporation. Paris became part of the Republic of Texas’ Central National Road, a road that crossed Texas rivers and helped increase settlements. Paris voted against secession before the Civil War; however, residents fought for the Confederacy when the war commenced.
In 1877, 1896, and 1916, major fires in the city forced considerable rebuilding. The 1916 fire destroyed almost half the town and caused an estimated $11 million in property damage. The fire ruined most of the central business district and swept through a residential area. The burned structures included the Federal Building and Post Office, the Lamar County Courthouse and Jail, City Hall, most commercial buildings, and several churches. The fire started around 5 p.m. on March 21. The exact cause is unknown. Winds estimated at 50 miles per hour fanned the flames, which were visible for up to forty miles away. The fire was brought under control on the morning of March 22 by firefighters from Paris and surrounding areas, including Hugo, Oklahoma.
On April 2, 1982, Paris was hit by an F4 tornado that destroyed more than 1,500 homes, left ten people dead, 170 injured and 3,000 homeless. The damage toll from this tornado was estimated at $50 million in 1982.