Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Few Demolished Southgate Area Houses

Back in spring 2011, I noticed that there were old homes at the northwest corner of the Welsh and Holleman intersection (catty-corner to the Checkers, of course) being razed for smaller, student-oriented-looking homes. Unfortunately, in my rush to screen shot the Google Maps Street View, I didn't accurately write down the address numbers even seen up there, but they were run-down duplexes nonetheless at this address. It would've been pretty cool if I could do a photo address map like does, but oh well. That's just the way things are.

I had made this post back in 2011 but didn't publish it, publishing it only now to get it out there, and to fulfill part of the purpose of this blog never really explored: to add houses, too. However, there's not a whole lot of houses (maybe a few) that are really notable of being added: there's a house in the Southwood Valley area with red pipes and other stuff, but that's about it.

The "raze and rebuild" trend has been accelerated in recent years as gentrification pushes south, but this is what I captured.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Two TETCO Stores

OK, I cheated: this isn't actually from the Bryan store, it's from Skyline Products

This covers something from both Bryan and College Station, the TETCO stores, which as of this writing, are mostly 7-Eleven stores in all but external name (key word "mostly").

The first, at Texas Avenue and Harvey Road, has been operating for years as an Exxon (since the 1980s, though unfortunately I don't have a lot of info on it, it seems like there was more of an emphasis on auto parts), and would eventually go under the Speedy Stop name (but still an Exxon). I believe the SS name has been in place since 2000, as evidence seems to point that the original Exxon was auto repair-oriented but the rebuilt Exxon was not. I don't remember the old Exxon, personally.

Despite the difficult access (parking was never accessible from Culpepper Plaza, in case you're wondering). In early 2013, it was announced that Speedy Stop was acquired by 7-Eleven, and it would be converted to 7-Eleven sometime later that year. We watched as 7-Eleven products began to infiltrate the store, and...the big conversion never came. It's now branded as TETCO (another 7-Eleven owned brand) with no Slurpees in sight. Easily one of the biggest disappointments of 2013. In 2014, Slurpee machines finally came, so it is coming, albeit slowly (over a year now).

A few of my pictures (when it was a Speedy Stop) could be found below.

However, an article in the Houston Chronicle (which unfortunately I can't link to due to tendency for these things to be removed) more recently seems to suggest that TETCO would still convert to 7-Eleven (but why bother with the stop-gap motion?) The pictures below are from summer 2013. The building has since been painted completely off-white, no green or yellow accents.

Picture One
Picture Two

The other store was operating as a Circle K Truxtop in the 1990s, which is why I posted that above (I'm sure I've seen this sign in the Interstate 10 corridor in the 1990s as well), but I don't have any pictures of it. Like the rest of the Circle Ks around 1997-1998, the ones that were left (as Circle K had weeded out the old UtoteMs without any gas), became Everyday Food Stores, which were Conocos. Like the other former Circle K stores, this one likely spent some time as a Diamond Shamrock, too. According to Google Maps Street View, it looks like you can see the old Conoco sign, too.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Newport Condominiums

One of the things mentioned in this old post about the Circle Drive-In on Northgate was the presence of the Newport Condominiums, a now-defunct (to be used for the expansion of St. Mary's, should/when that ever happen). These were built sometime in the 1980s but were torn down partially for their questionable structural integrity. The apartments were built on a modified pier and beam layout where the parking was below the building about half a floor down. I could've sworn I had pictures of what remained, but apparently not, which was aggravating: I wish I had gotten interior photos before Dulie Bell disappeared, but at least I was able to actually get in.

Seems that just about three months before their untimely demolition, the buildings were advertising as "Campus Lodge at Northgate" and still leasing! I got these from Street View over a year ago and was intending to use them for the blog, which I finally am.

402 Nagle

Any more comments on these would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Palace Theater

"And a screen without a picture since Giant came to town"

This is a very, very old post that I'm finally posting again after putting it away for a few years. I originally posted this after the fall 2011 Texas Reds Festival (and it's a good thing too: summer was especially brutal), where I saw the newly revitalized Queen but was disappointed about the redevelopment plan, ate some steak and fried Oreos, etc. (but no beer or wine). The map I was intending to scan (different blog standards at the time, you see) had gotten so much powdered sugar on it I declared it was a loss and threw it away.

My opinion about Downtown Bryan has changed somewhat. At one time I felt it was too sanitized and cartoonish but even those have gotten some wear into them like breaking into a pair of tennis shoes. It's certainly better than the alternative: crumbling into decay and ruin, as it was circa 1990.

Sadly, I have no pictures of how it was and how I remember it in the 1990s. Fortunately, I do however have a music video of "This Old Porch" sung by notable country-western singer (and TAMU alumni) Lyle Lovett.

This video is from Lovett's official site and contains several pictures and an interview (it's part of a three part series called "Trucks, Tortillas, and Tombstones")

There's a bit on the beginning where he's interviewing someone (didn't catch his name):

"...But Bryan fell on hard times, like so many downtowns and towns of all sizes in the '60s when the shopping centers began to spread, same kind of thing happened here......Several attempts have been made by people who said 'well, we could rescue this place, look at these fine wide streets down here, this would be a pleasant place to shop, live on a...make a kind of historic district out of it' but there's really not enough population to do the kind of things they've done in Denver and even in Houston to some extent. And so, it just gets worse.....It just isn't happening. It's not likely to happen now.

Bryan did ultimately did "rescue" the downtown, by sinking tax dollars into it. And though they weren't able to truly revive it as it was in its "glory days", it managed to coax in new shops and businesses. Boarded-up buildings, empty storefronts, and peeling paint were ultimately done away with, but it seems like some of it has been lost (at least they never did convert it to a pedestrian mall at any time. I felt a bit nostalgic watching this: not because I actually lived in that era, but the downtown like I remembered it. The Palace Theater, in particular is featured prominently: the withered curtain still intact, with a shot of the fire escape next door. I remember that fire escape. I was at a Mexican-themed festival there years ago, and rather than watch the dancers on stage, I was drawn to it. There was something about it, some vaguely spooky and depressing feeling that was later seen in things like desolate old malls and Detroit buildings.

That's what today's post is about.

Starting in the late 19th century or early 20th century (as a live theater, it was acquired by Morris Schulman in 1926 and started to show movies. Sadly, Schulman never got to see the theater empire that the Schulman name would become, as he committed suicide in the backstage of the Palace Theater in 1935. His widow would later acquire the Queen, and ultimately pass the business on to Bill Schulman, who passed away in May 2013, even though by that time business had passed on to his sons and the Schulmans pulled out of Bryan-College Station. The Palace, along with others in downtown Bryan, closed in the mid-1980s (at the latest).

Anyway, the Palace Theater was somewhat butchered in the renovation: apparently, the Palace is outdoor because the roof collapsed in 1986, but today the Palace exists even less: only the marquee is original (at best).

See how many things you can spot that are distinctly different: where Stafford Main Street looks like the original building was destroyed, leaving only the facade, there's "Discount Trophies & Engraving" with some greenish tile: the facade was changed (restored or completely redone) for its current incarnation of EarthArt (DT&E appears at 4:35). You can also catch a glimpse of the late missed Los NorteƱos restaurant.

Here's a few modern glimpses from summer 2013 (my pictures): here, here, and here.

Hopefully you find this post interesting, as it's been sitting in the "back room" for years (it was originally published as "Downtown Bryan: At the Bottom of the Night"). There's more coming that will be from storage from the old CSR&R or was haphazardly put in the Texas Avenue post.