I am well aware of Marion Pugh being a real person, but the story of how Marion Pugh Drive started to become a real road started not so much with the first tenant on the stretch (Marion Pugh Lumber Co. at 101 Jersey Street West, which dated to the 1940s) but rather Tree House Apartments at 205 Jersey Street West. This would turn part of an abandoned railroad right of way (International & Great Northern, from the 1960s) into a paved alleyway with parking for the apartments. These apartments were one of the first apartments (and remain so) catering to off-campus "non-regs", which started in the 1960s.
Marion Pugh Lumber Co. would eventually give way to J. Arnold Construction Co., as Marion Pugh (a former football player and class of '41) would pass away in 1976 at the age of 57. J. Arnold actually had a small railroad crossing just to the south of Jersey, which you can still see today (venture a bit south of the McDonald's and around that area)
Just to the south of that was 102 Luther, Brazos Valley Concrete, and although the concrete plant and the construction company were right next to each other, neither of them had rail access of any sort nor was Marion Pugh even connected between them: only the unpaved right of way (undoubtedly driven on) connected Luther to Marion Pugh.
At 101 Luther Street West was Schaffhauser Distributing Co. (dealing primarily in liquor). Apparently, 102 Luther was once home to the National Guard building, as Fugate's comment is replicated here (seen here).
Grover Fugate said...
Yes Luther extended over the railroad. That road led to the dump. Right across the railroad was a beer distributor on the left. On the right was a National Guard building.
Right past the NG bldg was a place that made charcoal for a while. Maybe two hundred yards back was a pond that we played around as kids. You can get in touch with me via Anne Boykin. I would rather answer your questions via phone or a personal meeting. Ed Hrdlicka was my Grandfater. I lived in his house with my Mom and Dad. The house was right in front of the railroad crossing.
June 19, 2011 3:46 PM
In the early 1980s, the area was officially named Marion Pugh Drive but only extended to about Luther Street West, with Treehouse adopting the new address of 200 Marion Pugh. Treehouse II (400 Marion Pugh, but originally also 205 Jersey Street West into the 1980s) would build soon after next to it, with Treehouse Village (800 Marion Pugh) soon behind, building in 1985. This put a lot of cars crossing at Luther Street West's railroad crossing, which was steep and unsignaled and was even worse after Wellborn Road (until very recently at this time, "Old College Road") was widened in the early 1980s.
So the crossing remained with signals but no road for several months until it was finally built in early 1986, and Luther would keep their crossing open until it too was closed off (at which time, I presume, traffic was finally restored between Luther and Marion Pugh).
Sometime during the 1980s, J. Arnold would shut down, but something else would take its place: Amtrak! Amtrak came into town with the Texas Eagle in 1988 and a new station. This train connected Dallas to Houston with only two stations between: College Station (restoring a train stop) and Corsicana. Unfortunately, the train only ran until 1995, when the line was cut. The mural in the train station was moved to A&M Consolidated High School, which unfortunately, I don't have a picture of.
After the demise of Amtrak, the concrete plant (now abandoned) had a few buildings leftover: "Traditions Night Club" wanted to open in 1997, but the city reacted to the word "nightclub" even though by the prospective owners' words it was to be less "bar" and more "normal restaurant that serves beer and wine". It didn't even have a dance hall. Probably for the better as the location was still bad (only way in was George Bush Drive or way out from 2818 via Luther). The restaurant was doomed anyway by harsh criticism from area residents, including the Marion Pugh's widow Helen Pugh. Among the arguments was that "noise, trash, and traffic would be too close to College Station's historical district", never mind that places like the dumpy Piknik Pantry and Varsity II apartments were far closer, and furthermore, around that same time, a McDonald's would build at George Bush Drive (Jersey Drive's new name) and Marion Pugh.
I initially thought this McDonald's near Marion Pugh was a rather strange and ugly specimen. In a misguided effort to fit in with campus, the McDonald's (which was built in the mid-1990s, I'd say) featured a maroon-on-white mansard roof instead of a stock yellow-on-red mansard roof. It would've looked great if the colors were flipped, but they weren't, so McDonald's truly looked like the Aggies on an away team game. Around 2003 it renovated to what it is today. In summer 2011 it suffered a bout of bad publicity when a man ate a meal there and stabbed a little girl on the way out (her father was an employee). The restaurant was also robbed that same day, and said employee later sued because these weren't the only major incidents that happened during that time frame. Yikes. It seems to be doing better now, though. I wish I had a picture of that original McDonald's, though.
At around the same time all this was happening, a "five-story women's dorm" was proposed, this would turn out to be the co-ed upscale "Callaway House", which featured its own parking garage and was the first "upscale" student apartment complex. A few years later, Callaway Villas would build and destroy Luther Street West (or what remained of it) in the process and also extending Marion Pugh to Holleman. The road now featured Treehouse Apartments (in the late 1990s briefly named College Park - Treehouse), Stadium View Apartments (formerly Tree House II), Meadows Point (formerly Treehouse Village and the pre-2005 limits of Marion Pugh), Callaway House, and others. Finally, in 2011, U-Club Townhomes were built, which opened by 2012.
Marion Pugh Drive had been expected to extend all the way to Dowling, which is why another old I-GN segment between FM 2818 (Harvey Mitchell Pkwy.) and Dowling Road was named Marion Pugh Drive for a few years, before it was renamed Jones-Butler Road in 2005 to match the new 2004 Jones-Butler Road, and was ultimately closed after the Jones-Butler segment became Holleman.