Founded in 1872, the City of Denison was named after Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (MKT) Vice-President George Denison. Today, the MKT, better known as Katy Railroad, has merged with the Union Pacific. From its beginning, the railroad has been an important part of the city.
During the 1940’s, the Denison economy was strongly impacted by the establishment of Perrin Air Force Base, which began as an Army Air Field. Today, the former air base is under the control of Grayson County and the North Texas Regional Airport, which has both a 9,000 foot and 8,000 foot runway that makes it accessible to aircraft of every size. It serves Denison as a viable private airport and industrial park.
Denison’s history is rich in flavor and personality, and its residents are dedicated to preserving the unique history. In 1988, Denison began a Main Street Program and was officially designated a Texas Main Street City by the Texas Historical Commission in 1989. The 30-block area of downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many homes in Denison have preserved their original character and design. Historic walking and driving tours guide visitors through neighborhoods and the historic downtown arts district. The Texas Commission on the Arts endorsed Denison as one of the original arts and culture districts in the spring of 2009.