Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Far South Point of Texas Avenue

The majestic Exxon sign has stood here for over three decades.

Not too long ago, I attempted to make a great Texas Avenue post that would cover, slowly but surely, the entire Texas Avenue, cutting out some parts, but still, the road was 10 miles, and even before I got to University Drive, the post I was creating went out of control, and I had to break it up into smaller posts. So this is what we get today.

Sadly, even this isn't what I had hoped for, but it's more complete than what I had originally.

Yes, for a time, you could drive straight from Nantucket Drive to the Wal-Mart parking lot and back without making a single turn or getting on the highway.

Since the Highway 6 bypass was built in the 1970s, prior to around 2006, there was an intersection here with the southbound one-way traffic from the bypass intersecting with Deacon. To the south was Texas Avenue turning into an entrance for Highway 6 south with the northbound lane going from Highway 6. To the south at Deacon was a two-way frontage road that paralleled Texas Avenue up to Wal-Mart and became the southbound Highway 6 frontage road for the section south of Texas Avenue.

Around 2006, that all changed, and the set-up was altered. The road that paralleled Texas Avenue was cut off at an apartment complex, and the two lanes from Texas Avenue went to the frontage road south (now all one-way) or the highway. There's a number of businesses here, but let's focus on a few that stick out (that we haven't covered yet: Sunset Gardens we covered a while back).

And of course, there's a lot of other things I won't cover that are in this part of the road, including a collection of trailer homes, a few small homes, a U-Haul, a funeral home, an office building, and an O'Reilly Auto Parts.

Jimmy Jackson's Exxon
Opening in 1983 at Miller's Lane (FM 2818 before it finished expanding to the highway) and Texas Avenue, this Exxon has a massive sign that was clearly grandfathered in as College Station would not allow such a majestic structure anymore like that, this Exxon was a full service stop built catty-corner to the Kmart on the edge of town (well, it was the edge back then) with a self-service car wash, garage, and convenience store.

Selling out to "Franky's" in 2001 (aka Frankie's), I actually managed to make contact with Jimmy Jackson's daughter (Mr. Jackson sadly passed away last year), but could not locate any photos of the gas station in its heyday.

In reality, the sign isn't quite so massive as it appears from further 2818 (mostly due to the hills), but something tells me that it was designed to be seen from the bypass when it was built, not unlike a Burger King (now Pizza Inn) at Mangum and 18th (to be seen from the Northwest Freeway, which is more or less impossible now due to the construction of new ramps).

The picture for the sign and the self-serve washing stations is at the top of the page.

Burger King
At the northeast corner of Deacon and Texas Avenue (as in, right before you get off for the highway) is a Burger King, which opened 2007 (early 2007, I believe) to replace the one at Culpepper Plaza, which was torn down and replaced with a Chick-fil-A. Burger King here replaced a Diamond Shamrock gas station.
Burger King at Texas Avenue and Deacon, May 2014

Across the street is a Wings-N-More restaurant, owned by Mark Dennard. The restaurant could alternately be called Mark Dennard's Original Wings-N-More due to the presence of a franchised Wings-N-More in Houston, but since they renamed to BreWingz, that really doesn't apply anymore. They also own a party room and even a car wash closer to Longmire.
Wings-N-More at Texas Avenue and Deacon, May 2014

Wings-N-More's location here opened sometime in the latter half of the 1990s, it was previously (and I sadly don't have a picture with me) a real estate office, blue roof, a Century 21 office in 1989 but vacant by '95. Wings-N-More kept the large sign post at the Deacon and Texas intersection and the building itself (it expanded). I always thought that was a strange plan--usually it's a real estate office that moves into a restaurant space, not the other way around. But this is College Station, the occasional strange thing that can pass.

Other Stuff
Across the street is the old frontage road. We have Ashley & Co., which seems to have some discoloration on the roof. Smoke damage? Mold? I don't know. This used to be Petal Patch (and briefly a bakery, I've heard after that). Looking down the street, we see a variety of other businesses that have stayed pretty constant, including a chiropractor's, a pool store, and a paint store.
Ashley & Co., May 2014
Looking down the street

This has remained constant enough that Sunset Gardens, which burned down in the 1980s, is still around.

Homestead Place
There's a small strip center here, just east of Park Place Plaza, Homestead Place (originally Shiloh Place). Since it has suites and not addresses for most of the shopping center, it's difficult to find what was there. I remember that prior to 1998, the College Station Public Library was actually here for a while, and some old phone books indicate a smaller Mr. Gatti's here as well (running concurrently with the Northgate and Bryan locations, and not directly associated with the disaster up the road in a few decades from when this one was around). There's another strip of this shopping center that has the sign (very '80s) but I don't have a picture of it (it's where Brown's Shoe Store is). Last summer I saw a picture of the CSPL facade along with what the facade looked like then. I don't have a picture of the facade of the original Homestead Place (blue facades, stonework) but I know I saw a photo last summer, complete with the library in its spot.

The original library wasn't especially cramped but it was small. It didn't have an electronic card catalog, and when it finally got one in the new location, they were on green and black monitors that were already laughably ancient even in the late 1990s. I think they were finally replaced in the mid-2000s.

Left side with former Park Oak Paint, a vision center, and a nail salon. May 2014.
Right side with 40 Tempura and the martial arts place that used to be near Albertsons.

While again, this is filler, this is partially to clean up the blog and make it for a bit better reading, but if you're just joining us, the Sbisa article has been updated again with new photos and information.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mobil & Mechanics

Figures that I'd have to update this blog every once in a while. This is a small update to one of the Texas Avenue parts with new photos and info. Located next to a Century 21 office (which we didn't photograph), this was a Mobil for years but closed in 2004 (to the best of my memory) and was converted to Stratta Auto Repair for a number of years a few years later. I never released these pictures because the direct sunlight tended to mess them up, but here they are.
Looking at the garage, September 2013. Sorry my thumb partially obscures the shot. It was bright!
Another view, September 2013. I think that chimney is from another building which I believe may be part of the same complex. I remember the name of the business was written on the side wall facing Lincoln, but I'll have to do more research into it.
The pumps are still intact, September 2013. What a time warp!
Mobil signs, September 2013. A lone shadow looks in.
September 2013.
September 2013.

In September I returned to take a few more pictures. Sadly, inquiring within about the Mobil signs had no positive response--the signs were gone, likely disposed. Bummer. FabricCare has made their home in the garage while a tobacco store is opening next to it. Here's some more pictures from Sept. 2014.

Wow, this thing still lights up!.
Another pump that lights up.
More lights.

Behind it was an old garage, originally known as "Murphy's garage" or something like that (informally) but later it became Mechanics Unlimited, all the way into the early 2000s. Eventually, it closed. The building was recently repainted on my visit. The maroon board in the lower right was used to board up the garage doors, while you can see the maroon paint that was once on the bricks

It's 102 Lincoln, but there appears to be something going in there, though the fact that it was issued nearly two years ago makes that dubious. By the way, the chimney seen in the old Mobil shots are from this building, not the Mobil, which is 901 Texas Avenue S.

In other news, there's also the newly-updated Torchy's post, so check that out too. It has all sorts of new information and new photos, and overall a huge upgrade from the original post, which covered the closed Sully's.

Note: The title photo appears on Wikimapia with permission.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Waning Days of Diamond T Stables

About a year ago, I wrote about Alta Vista Christian Academy, which included a bit about the west part of Rock Prairie Road and mentioned this one. A few years ago, the land went up for sale on this one, and I knew I had to act fast: because a month ago or so, the city had revealed Equinox subdivision. And that's when I took these pictures. To date, I don't know when Diamond T opened (before '95). The storage component looks like it will be spared, though.

3270 Rock Prairie Road West (Gandy Road)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Nightlife at Doux Chene Apartments

See those stairs leading up to the second level in the main office building? That's the focus today here. (Google Maps Picture)

First off, this is not an apartments review site. Nor is the title supposed to be some sort of snarky joke. Most of the content here is long out of date. If you came via Google looking for information regarding the actual apartments as they stand today, move on. Or not. I could always use visitors here. So, Doux Chene Apartments (I think it's pronounced "doe shane", though I'm not entirely sure, and the translation is "sweet oak") is one of your typical run-down apartment complexes from the 1970s, except it's more than that.

First off, Doux Chene was designed to be trendy, trendy enough that they would actually advertise themselves as "country club apartment living", and trendy enough to be the first true mixed-use building in the City of College Station.

From circa 1974 to late 1970s, it was "Mansard House". Mansard House, despite being the upper level of an apartment complex on the edge of town (sure, why not?) was one of the really nice places in town. Live entertainment, seafood, lobster, lamb, and more were all on the menu.

This was the kind of apartment complex Doux Chene used to be, and apparently wasn't one of a kind...the Chateaux Dijon apartments, known for when George W. Bush lived there in the early 1970s, was also the same theme and layout, but unlike Doux Chene, managed to upkeep itself quite nicely.

By 1980, while Doux Chene was still successful, Mansard House had closed and was replaced with Studio 2818, an actual discotheque.

Source: personal collection

Later night clubs included Dallas: The Night Club...

...and finally, Scandals.

Most of these are sadly relatively undocumented, only whispers across forums and other sources, including stories of ladies' nights with male strippers, with men being let in after the women had several drinks. Perhaps it's better that some of the craziness that went on is better left unsaid (I'm sure there were many regrettable nights).

Doux Chene of course is also a rather unlucky apartment complex, such as a tornado in 2006 striking a building, necessitating its demolition, or the fact that the building caught fire some months later due to improper wiring (it's also worth noting that anytime I read about an apartment complex fire, it used to be that there was a good chance it was Doux Chene).

If there are any restaurants/clubs I missed, or you have any memories of them, please write in the comments.

Since writing this post, we (I) was contacted by a management representative of Doux Chene Apartments, whose name has been redacted for identity purposes.

"While your account of the history of the complex is mostly accurate, I take issue with the assertion that Doux Chene has not 'managed to upkeep itself.' While the property did fall into a state of disrepair in the late 80's to the early 90's, the current management has put a lot of effort (and money) into repairs and renovations and enhancements. While there is no hiding the fact that the property is 40 years old, it is in very good condition for a property of its age.

Doux Chene has indeed encountered more than its share of challenges.

A lightning strike destroyed 4 apartment units, severely damaged a dozen others. No injuries, a quarter of a million dollars in damages.

Severe hail required the replacement of nearly a dozen roofs, another quarter of a million dollars.

The tornado in 2006 actually destroyed two buildings, damaged several roofs, caused water damage in nearly 80 apartments, required replacement of over 160 central air conditioning systems. Total casualty loss, just over $4 million.

And then the small fire that happened shortly thereafter... The fire marshal initially indicated it was electrical, but upon further investigation it was found to be caused by a resident's cigarette butt rolling into a gap at the edge of his balcony.

Through all of this, we have been blessed in multiple ways. Firstly, there have been no injuries as a result of any of these incidences. Also, our insurance company has consistently paid in a timely fashion, and we have been fully made whole. We have also been given the reassurance, that no matter what we face, we will be able to come through it. I won't get all preachy here, but our faith in God has been strengthened through these difficulties.

Some ads were also sent as part of this, including Doux Chene hosting some wild parties (it's hard to imagine even the student-oriented apartments specifically hosting a keg party today)

As wild partying obviously upset the neighbors, a nearby apartment complex offered a shotgun as among the freebies you could get for signing a lease.

- 9/3/14