Stephen F. Austin State University

Rembert was Longview's first wheeler-dealer (February 2014)

Rembert was Longview's first wheeler-dealer
By Van Craddock

Frank T. Rembert didn't do anything half way.

That's why, after a 1907 vacation to Europe, Longview's first millionaire decided his adopted hometown needed a first-class facility for social gatherings.

Rembert and his wife, the former Kate Womack, had been smitten with Scotland's beautiful Loch Lomond. The result was Lake Lomond, located just west of downtown Longview.

In 1908, Rembert created a corporation along with other investors. Construction was completed in 1910 on Lake Lomond, a large lake that featured a bathhouse, pavilion and other amenities. For many years, Lake Lomond was a popular destination for Gregg County fun-seekers who wanted to go swimming, boating or fishing.

For several decades now the lake, situated between Marshall Avenue (U.S. 80) and Cotton Street, has been misspelled as "Lake Lamond."

Born in Mississippi in 1853, Frank Taylor Rembert was a real wheeler-dealer. In 1878, the year he married Kate, the one-time railroad telegrapher opened a Longview mercantile business.

Before long Rembert had his hand in banks, railroads, cotton and real estate. He owned Longview's fairgrounds and for a while operated a horserace track and baseball stadium (called Rembert Park) on the site.

The track was the site of the annual July 4 East Texas Derby which attracted large crowds. Rembert Park was the longtime home for the Longview Cannibals minor-league baseball club.

He owned racehorses, loved foxhunts and occasionally traveled to New York to hear opera. The Remberts reportedly had the first horseless carriage (a 1910 Buick) and the first player-piano in town. He served as mayor of Longview from 1896-1898.

In 1906, Rembert made Longview's biggest-ever cotton transaction. The 800-plus bales brought $42,287.92. Each year after the bales were purchased, Rembert would display them in rows on the roadway near his store. The road eventually came to be called Cotton Street.

Rembert built the Palace Hotel at Cotton and Fredonia streets in 1908. In 1915 he opened the Rembert Theater, one of Longview's early movie houses, which featured films, vaudeville and minstrel shows. He owned so much property that part of downtown was known as the "Rembert Block."

In 1918 he bought Guaranty State Bank. Five years later it was nationalized and became Rembert National Bank. Rembert also was secretary-treasurer of the Texas and Gulf Railway.
Rembert died in June 1926. The Longview Daily News said his death "takes from life … a pioneer resident of Longview, who was recognized in this section of the state for his successful business career that resulted in the amassing of a considerable fortune … He was of a modest and retiring disposition."

The newspaper noted: "Busy as he was with his various enterprises, he found time to indulge in private charities, giving liberally to those whom he believed were deserving. It was one of his axioms to help those who were putting forth their best efforts."

Despite great wealth, Frank and Kate knew heartbreak. They lost two children, Annie Perry and Mittie Sue, each under 2 years of age when they died in 1881 and 1885.

Rembert's Lake Lomond closed many years ago. Its namesake, Loch Lomond, remains a popular destination in Scotland. It also has been immortalized by the song "The Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond:"

"Oh, ye'll tak' the high road, and I'll tak' the low road, and I'll be in Scotland afore ye …"