Okay, Comanche… hang with me here. I am a romantic. I’m a daydreamer and an idealist. I let my mind wander to a better day… days gone by. And, were those days any better? I don’t know, but in my head there was just nothing but beautiful, wonderful, mysterious goodness. (I’m obviously no historian… glad that’s out of the way.)
I’ve got this propensity, you see. My poor boyfriend. Every time we’re wandering downtown around the square… eating, shopping, whatever it may be… my mind starts a wanderin’. And, I start up with my shenanigans. “Baby,” I say, “whaddya think’s up in the top of that building there?” (As I point across the road wide eyed with visions of glorious, glamorous 1920’s cocktail parties dancing through my head.) His usual response? “I have no idea, babe” said in the driest, most I-don’t-care-here-we-go-again tone of voice.
Despite my best efforts to nudge him to try to gain access to all of these mysterious unknowns, I’ve had no success for months and months. He just won’t budge on the matter. Apparently, he’s not seeing the same wonderful scenes in his head that I’m seeing in mine.
And, so, one day, it’s as if the clouds in the sky parted, and the heavens shone down on me as I realized, “WAIT! If I want to know these things, surely other folks are curious, too! What if, just WHAT IF, I did a series for Texansunited.com called What’s Up There Anyway (or something)?” And, laaaaaa (that’s the angels rejoicing, by the way), here I am!!!
So, sent on a mission to write a story on the Take A Break Snackery that just opened in town (exciting!!!), I was also able to gain access to the top of their building… one of the very buildings that makes my mind race with possibilities. Do you know how giddy this makes me? It’s this one:
Okay… so, tell me… have you ever thought about what sorts of gems and jewels are up in the abandoned tops of these fabulous historic buildings? You know there have got to be some serious treasures up there whether it be property abandoned or architectural beauty. And, what happened within those walls? What businesses resided up there? Well, folks, I can show you what’s up there. But, I can only speculate as to it’s history. Let me just tell you now… there will be next to nothing historical in my speculations as to what life might have happened up there. Ha. Deal?
But I wonder… are these buildings empty? Cleared out? Or, did people leave things behind? If so, what kinds of things? Is it one big ol’ room up there? Or, is it lots of little rooms? What was it’s function? Is there breathtaking architecture? Beautiful, thick, heavy crown moulding? Wainscoting? Old tin ceiling tiles? You just never know. But, I want to know!
I knew I’d fall in love with these buildings if I could get in them. I knew it. I see beauty in all things. And, guess what? My first love resides at 101 W. Grand on the square.
As we walked up the back stairs, I had no idea what to expect. I love the element of surprise here. I didn’t even know what that building had once been. Maybe everyone else knew it, and maybe I should have known, but I didn’t.
And, as the door opened and the sunlight flooded the hall into which we stepped, again… laaaaaa! Like I said, I fell in love at first sight. My heart flooded with both the beauty and sadness of abandonment all at the same time. And, here is what I saw:
Look at that long, glorious hallway! What stories and history have bustled through that hallway? And, look at all those things! It is at this moment that I was informed that this building had one time been an apartment complex of sorts.
Realizing that this hall held the doorways to peoples’ homes, it pained me in a strange way that folks would just leave their stuff behind. And, I get that when they left that stuff there, it wasn’t near as cool as it is today. Call me sentimental or nostalgic or something. I’m not materialistic, but I guess I just associate their “things” with their home and their lives and their families. And, it made it feel like I was in a ghost of a home. Aw. Sad.
As with an old abandoned house, this structure obviously teamed with life and energy and family at some point in time. At some point in time, someone felt comfort and safety under that roof and within those walls… children called that place home and made tiny little memories there. But, life moves on. And, I guess that saddens me that the life & energy no longer inhabit that building.
Then, beyond the emotional, sentimental side of me, there’s that kitschy, lover of design side of me. And, it was that side who’s eyes bugged out of my head as I saw all of these fabulous mid-century modern pieces just sitting there aging and collecting dust. Projects, projects, projects!!! So many of these things could be restored to fabulousness and find a cherished place in a home bustling with life again. Maybe you see junk, but I see AMAZING! Look at some of these pieces:
Looking down that hall, doorway after doorway lined the walls just calling my name and piquing my curiosity. What would I find in the next room? Each living quarter was similar to the next. I can’t decide, though, if there were private baths in each unit? It didn’t seem that way. There was ONE unit that obviously had a bathroom within it’s walls. All the others seemed to just have a sink. Maybe that was the kitchen area? Because, there were a couple of bathrooms right off the hall. And, that realization brought the place to life again. Weird, right? But, I could just see folks in the hallway… coming & going… heading to the bathrooms. Almost a dorm-like situation.
Another something that caught my attention was that all of the individual living quarters had screen doors. Can you imagine coming home, entering that hallway, and the only thing separating you from someone’s living room/bedroom/kitchen is a screen door? Did the sounds from individual homes just mingle in the hallway? You know… this wasn’t a glamorous apartment complex. But, what I wouldn’t give to sit back and watch the dynamic for a little while. Like I said… I’m a romantic. It makes me smile just thinking about it.
So, this building? No, it didn’t have breathtaking architecture. That treasure does not belong to it. But, it had charm and a history and personal treasures. Those walls didn’t house a business to which people say goodbye at 5pm every day. No, those walls welcomed families home at the end of the workday or schoolday or whatever kind of day they’ve just had. Those walls enveloped folks for the night. Those walls saw people at their most vulnerable, their most relaxed, their most natural. What a gem.
And, don’t you know this was the coveted unit with a view like this?
My many thanks to Lupita Briseno for allowing me to snoop around the top of this building. You’ve made me one happy gal!