Monday, July 9, 2012

Grand Station Entertainment

When this opened as Lowe's, the frontage roads were still two-way.

While Bryan got a Lowe's store sometime in the mid-1990s and College Station 2010, College Station did have an even older Lowe's store. As it turns out, we did get a Lowe's back in the mid-1980s, on the bypass. It was much different than the Lowe's of today, much smaller and featuring slightly more departments before streamlining (like electronics!) but it didn't do so well, and closed circa 1989. From what I can read up, it became Brazos Valley Golf Driving Range (2400 East Bypass), but by the 1990s it was known as Wolf Pen Bowl & Skate, which featured a large roller skating rink, a snack bar, and of course a bowling alley, which I remember as being slightly better than the MSC's but not by much. Toward the back was PowerSports Gymnastics (which was fairly large and did have a small upper level viewing area, like Acrofit's, except larger). There was also, apparently, a vertical wind tunnel in the early days when it opened around 1994, but that seems to have been gone soon after (if it was ever built).

Unfortunately, I have no pictures, save for the ad below. It seems based on the ad that they sub-leased the space, and I recall hearing that after it closed it was used as storage space. Sub-leasing or not, I also seem to remember that you could access the gymnastics area through the main bowling area.

Ad for the gymnastics portion, originally "Powerhouse" (not PowerSports)

It later became Power Gymnastics (the "Sports" being conspicuously removed from the sign) before finally disappearing around the mid-2000s, which was about the same time Acrofit kicked the bucket. The last time I remember going to the skating rink was probably closer to 2004 (sixth grade, always an awkward experience), but by 2007 it was acquired by a new owner. While this meant the loss of a different bowling alley in town (Triangle Bowl in Bryan, which was even more run-down than the other two alleys) it meant that Wolf Pen Bowl & Skate would be renovated. The plan would be like "Boonville Station", a similar project planned in 2005 in Bryan but never got off the ground, and soon Wolf Pen Bowl & Skate closed and was gutted for a new bowling alley, an arcade (though the original Wolf Pen Skate had a few arcade games, I think), glow-in-the-dark mini-golf, an expanded eating area, and laser tag. This, of course, was Grand Station Entertainment, which remains today. The ugly blue facade remained for a number of years afterward until around 2015 when it was rebuilt.

The other side of the facade.

I don't know if the Wolf Pen Bowl built in front of the store (the aerial suggests the building was expanded to the front and the parking lot altered) or not, but one wonders if they had simply expanded. There's certainly enough space to.

The back of the building still looks like a warehouse.

The covered former lumber yard area is used for storage, and fenced off.

These televisions, located in an outside eating area, were presumably installed in the renovation, but were outdated from day one.

Last updated in July 2020

Saturday, July 7, 2012

College Station Conference Center

From KBTX, which most definitely did not take it off from the city's Flickr account

1300 George Bush Drive

Yesterday (from when this post was made), College Station Conference Center was shut down...basically condemned due to concerns that the roof would collapse. And to me, that may be "well, it was old and needed to be torn down anyway for a more modern building", but to me it was kind of special.

For starters, it had the first permanent building off campus for the CSISD, holding first through 12th grade, built in ~1949. The high school would move out in the 1950s or 1960s and again in the 1970s (the latter building will be explored in a new post coming soon). It also had a green triangular overhang and a newer very 1980s wing built in front of it (which was there at the opening of the Conference Center in 1982), plus it was one of the few areas to use the "old" College Station logo, which has been excised practically everywhere else. It used to be on the water tanks, even in the pool at Southwood. Additionally, in the 1949 wing, it had wooden floors (carpeted) which was great: it gave the floor a nice spongy, comfortable feeling not found in newer buildings (the last major wood-floor building on campus, for instance, was Special Services Building). And more importantly, there I was volunteering at Project HOLD, which sadly eliminated its full time job position not too long after I worked here.

In 2010, I tried to get a volunteer job there, as I had done last year. Regrettably, they could not accept me, so I did the next thing: create my own archives. Do my own research. And publish what I found in an easy to view, easy to access format. This website that you're looking at, Brazos Buildings & Businesses, hosting on or possibly, is the result of that.

Here's another picture of the Conference Center (the newer wing), from the same Flickr page as the image on the top of the page came from. As you can see, it's solidly early 1980s. I do miss those hexagonal tiles, though.

When I originally published this post, I included a hand-drawn map of the building as I remembered it. Turns out the city had their own floorplan, which I saved since the original link is dead. I wasn't too far off the mark:

Anyway, in late 2012 or early 2013 it was announced that the building would not reopen, and instead it was demolished for College View Alternative School, hosting both Venture and Timber Academy.

Updated Nov/15 to merge updates and update something else.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Der Wienerschnitzel

This picture is taken June 2019, the other menu shots were taken around 2012.

The Wienerschnitzel (called "Der Wienerschnitzel" in the early days) at 501 South Texas Avenue (Bryan) is definitely a relic, dating back to the late 1960s. That is a good thing: there are simply too few A-frame Wienerschnitzels left in the wild. I don't know this particular restaurant's opening, but I saw it in local newspapers (The Eagle, of course) back in the early 1970s, and this type was no longer built after 1973. However, all building searches mention elements built in 1992 (the oldest being 1982), which indicates that the rumors I've heard of this building burning down at some point and being rebuilt are true. There's no interior seating (only a few concrete seating benches inside), the drive-through is low and narrow, and the storeroom is accessed on the other side of the store (they load food supplies in the second level).

This ad comes from 1970, which proves that the Wienerschnitzel has been operating at this site for over 40 years.

There used to be a Wienerschnitzel in College Station, near Walmart as well, but it no longer exists. Rumors exist of Wienerschnitzel returning to south College Station.

Update 8/2019

Saturday, June 16, 2012

At Park Place and Texas Avenue

An unexciting strip mall. (Photo by author, 4/20)

Before the current strip center here was built around 2005, the site at 1808 Texas Avenue South was originally Long John Silver's No. 5347 (may have originally gone by the chain's old name "Long John Silver's Seafood Shoppe") in 1980, and shut down around 2004 when it was discovered it was a front for a drug operation (unfortunately, The Eagle's archives don't really exist online).

The strip center today has a Verizon store (changed logos after the parent company did), "Cash Store" (payday loans--and apparently that IS its legal name), and Naked Fish sushi restaurant. Naked Fish remains open despite less-than-excellent health scores and originally the home of Doc Green's.

Doc Green's, a soup/salad/sandwich chain out of the Atlanta area, made its first stand in Texas here in late 2007 (and in Austin a few months later) with a logo that is no longer used by the company. Unfortunately, neither one did particularly well. The Austin one closed up in less than a year due to back taxes being owed, and the College Station one died a similar death.

In July 2012, Jenny Jenkins wrote in to say this:

Doc Green's opened February/March 2007. I worked there for a very short time (March to May/June). It was run by some disgruntled former Freebirds managers that thought they could run a restaurant better than Freebirds (where I also worked for a couple years). They couldn't have been more wrong. They were so horribly disorganized that I can't believe they lasted. For example, they were open for months and still hadn't installed paper towel dispensers. They couldn't keep up with ordering and wouldn't order the same things so the menu changed constantly just because they'd run out of stuff. It just was really poorly done. I'm not sure when exactly they closed, but I know it was longer than expected. They were pretentious for a restaurant that casual but the food was pretty good.

Doc Green's closed at the end of 2008 with Naked Fish replacing it in early 2009. Naked Fish continued to operate for about fifteen years before closing. Cash Store was also not an original tenant, it was originally Systek Computing. Systek moved to a strip center behind the newer plaza when it was built by 2011 and ultimately moved on.

UPDATE 04-23-2024: After being last updated in April 2020 with a photo, I went back through the post and updated it.