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  #1  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2014, 2:01 PM
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Brownwood's Downtown

I was in Brownwood a couple weekends ago, and wandered into their downtown. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the old buildings and layout. Brownwood is a shell of its former glory, since Camp Bowie closed in 1946. Their population went from over 100,000 to about 19,000 today, and their downtown reflects that. Tons of empty or underutilzed buildings. It's unfortunate, really. They could have a very attractive town center.

I know this isn't Austin, and I understand if you want to move the thread. I just wanted to get some thoughts from the folks here.

I took a tour with Google Streetview.


Overhead of downtown Brownwood



Main St @ Anderson - A nice brick 2-story bldg, and a taller bldg in the background.



Lee @ Center - Attractive 5-story bldg



Lee @ Center - Looking across the street from the previous bldg...another nice 5-story bldg.



Center @ Baker - A closer look at the previous bldg.



Center @ East @ Mayes - Following down Center, you come to a fork with this beautiful bldg.



Lee @ Fisk - 13-story bldg, probably an old dorm or hotel.



Baker @ Brown - Love the old stonework.



Baker @ Brown - Looking to the left.



Baker @ Brown - Looking to the right. That 5-story bldg is the same we saw earlier with the green/teal boarded up windows on the 1st floor.



East @ Mayes - This little area really struck me in person. I like how this little bldg is right out in the middle of the street with alleys behind it. I like its shape too. Reminded me ever so slightly of old Quebec City. Maybe I'm crazy.





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Old Posted Feb 5, 2014, 2:48 PM
Tyrone Shoes Tyrone Shoes is offline
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Brownwood

For nine months in the early 80's I lived in Brownwood as a student at Howard Payne Univ. Back then the downtown was thriving but in decline. There were two or three grocery stores located in the downtown area and even a nice shopping mall between Brownwood and its suburb Early. The failure not only hit downtown Brownwood but also the shopping mall, the Gibson's discount store, most if not all of the mom and pop establishments occurred when (dare I say) Walmart opened on the highway. The Walmart then moved to an even larger location that pretty much ended the quaintness of this town. Sure it hurt when Kohler closed their factory, the SantaFe railroad moved maintenance operations to Cleburne and the Army closed Camp Bowie (not in that order). This is not a new phenomena and has been chronicled in numerous other towns across Texas and the United States.
Brownwood does have a few things going for it. Located on a couple of major US highways and on the mainline Santa Fe rail it could become a distribution hub for west/central Texas. Agriculture is also a major player in the region as well as wind farms, and oil production. Things can turn around for Brownwood but I'm not sure if it will. Don't forget Underwood's BBQ//home of the best baked bread!
Oh and the 13 story building was the original Brown Hotel that closed in the late 1960's. Purchased by oil man Sid Richardson who donated it to Howard Payne University. Re-named Sid Richardson Hall it housed a men's dorm until the mid to late 1980's but was too expensive to operate and closed. I think it is on the market and would be a nice piece of investment property if anyone on the forum has a couple of bucks to spend.
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Old Posted Feb 5, 2014, 3:18 PM
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Thanks for the insight. I didn't know about Kohler or Santa Fe. I was there taking a CHL course, and didn't get a ton of time to look around. I ate at Section Hand and Humphrey Pete's. I enjoyed the ultimate cheeseburger at Pete's. Crazy thing had a big ol' square of fried mozzarella on top of the burger.

I think that downtown could come to life with some investment. It would have to be tourist/day-trip driven, ala Fredericksburg.
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Old Posted Feb 5, 2014, 8:43 PM
austlar1 austlar1 is offline
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Yeah, a lot of railroad towns went into serious decline once the interstate highway system was up and running and passenger/parcel freight rail virtually disappeared. I'm sure the arrival of Walmart like shopping also sealed the fate of these downtown areas. Downtown Texarkana is a stunning case in point. It has a multiple abandoned or empty 10 to 20 story buildings including two or three hotels, at least one largish and abandoned department store, and a handsome and very empty passenger train station. It is kind of like a ghost town. I am sure there are other cities in Texas that present a similar picture. Brownwood had a very nice downtown and must have been quite nice at one point.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2014, 1:53 AM
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Looks a little like Taylor and Temple combined. I really like the layout of this town. It appears there is some renovations going on so maybe someday it will make it back to some extent. Even in its current condition, it has something Round Rock doesn't have...a decent town center and identity.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2014, 4:05 AM
JoninATX JoninATX is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the Genral View Post
Looks a little like Taylor and Temple combined. I really like the layout of this town. It appears there is some renovations going on so maybe someday it will make it back to some extent. Even in its current condition, it has something Round Rock doesn't have...a decent town center and identity.
It does look like a mixure between Temple and Taylor. Brownwood looks very nice and looks like that are improving the sidewalk areas, as well as hoping to restore the old 13 story Browntowner hotel.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2014, 8:13 PM
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Wendell Wise Mayes Park and Mayes Blvd are named after my great grandfather, who was mayor of Brownwood. Notice my username stands for Wendell Wise Mayes IV.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2014, 8:17 PM
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Well you better get up there and invest to create a destination downtown.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2014, 9:43 PM
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Brownwood is hopeless. I still have family there, though, so maybe I should have some sympathy. :/
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2014, 11:11 PM
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Don't get me wrong, please...I love Brownwood. I have friends from and who still live there.

But, why is this thread in the "Austin" section??? Brownwood is not even in the Austin metro area.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2014, 11:22 PM
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Another historical note: Center Street is not named because of its location, but rather was named such because my great grandfather had previously been mayor of Center, Texas (yes, all the way across the state... oddly).
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Old Posted Feb 7, 2014, 2:33 AM
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[QUOTE Wendell Wise Mayes Park and Mayes Blvd are named after my great grandfather, who was mayor of Brownwood. Notice my username stands for Wendell Wise Mayes IV.
]/QUOTE]
Small World. My Great-great grandmother was the sister to the Coggin Brothers. They were big time free range ranchers and also established The Coggin Bank which was in the 5 story building at the corner of Lee and Center. Their nephew (my great-granddad) got his start in ranching in the same area the Coggin's ran cattle on Homecreek were my ranch is today. So my user name is Homecreek
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Old Posted Feb 7, 2014, 2:35 AM
Homecreek Homecreek is offline
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by wwmiv View Post
Wendell Wise Mayes Park and Mayes Blvd are named after my great grandfather, who was mayor of Brownwood. Notice my username stands for Wendell Wise Mayes IV.


Small World! My Great-great grandmother was the sister to the Coggin Brothers. They were big time free range ranchers and also established The Coggin Bank which was in the 5 story building at the corner of Lee and Center. Their nephew (my great-granddad) got his start in ranching in the same area the Coggin's ran cattle on Homecreek were my ranch is today. So my user name is Homecreek
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  #14  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2014, 2:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Homecreek View Post
Small World. My Great-great grandmother was the sister to the Coggin Brothers. They were big time free range ranchers and also established The Coggin Bank which was in the 5 story building at the corner of Lee and Center. Their nephew (my great-granddad) got his start in ranching in the same area the Coggin's ran cattle on Homecreek were my ranch is today. So my user name is Homecreek
By chance do you know if the sign at Wendell Mayes Park is still there or has the city taken it down? I've been meaning to put in an inquiry to them that if they ever decide to remodel the park I really really want that granite sign.
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Old Posted Feb 7, 2014, 3:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenBoot View Post
Don't get me wrong, please...I love Brownwood. I have friends from and who still live there.

But, why is this thread in the "Austin" section??? Brownwood is not even in the Austin metro area.
If it wasn't for this thread, we would never have known where the heck wwmiv got his username from. Btw wwmiv, that's pretty cool where you did.
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Old Posted Feb 7, 2014, 3:41 AM
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Originally Posted by the Genral View Post
If it wasn't for this thread, we would never have known where the heck wwmiv got his username from. Btw wwmiv, that's pretty cool where you did.
Thanks

Just to be clear, I'm the IV and the mayor was Wendell Mayes Sr.
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Old Posted Feb 7, 2014, 4:11 AM
Homecreek Homecreek is offline
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Originally Posted by wwmiv View Post
By chance do you know if the sign at Wendell Mayes Park is still there or has the city taken it down? I've been meaning to put in an inquiry to them that if they ever decide to remodel the park I really really want that granite sign.
Sorry looks like it is still there. http://goo.gl/maps/yGOsD

I live in the Austin area but my folks were from Brownwood and Bangs.
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  #18  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2014, 4:15 AM
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This church was designed by my grandfather:

https://maps.google.com/?ll=31.69531...,84.33,,0,0.29
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  #19  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2014, 4:37 AM
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Oddly enough, my grandad was born in Brownwood in 1909. Didn't live there. I think they were there working the season.
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Old Posted Feb 7, 2014, 5:38 AM
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I didn't get a chance to check it out, but we did drive through there a few years back. I remember the view of their downtown being fairly impressive from the highway with the hills in the background.

I love this. Interesting and cute little intersection. It reminds me of the Universal lot where they shot Back to the Future. The whole downtown looks like an old movie set. Most of the time the land in these small towns is quite cheap. We were in Lockhart 2 weeks ago and we were talking with someone who lives there, and he said he bought the lot next to his house for just $3,500. I'm guessing there must have been a house on that lot that burned down at some point, because it was an old established neighborhood with houses dating back to the 20s at least. And the lot had a driveway in it as if there had been a house there. The neighborhood was a block from the courthouse and their grocery store was probably a 5 minute walk. And oh yes, there were big barbecue joints on that street.

I've always lived in Austin and it's mostly been big during that time, so small towns like that are kind of a curiosity to me, but I do prefer the city.

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