Sunday, August 18, 2013

On Your Way to the Mountains! Heading West to the Chinati Foundation? Here Are 4 Other Historical Sites With a New Art Twist to Check Out on the Way!

This "On Your Way to the Mountains" guest post was written by Nash Traylor of Fort Lancaster.  Fort Lancaster is located in our neighboring
Texas Pecos Trail Region.

We see it all the time, especially in West Texas, once thriving communities or establishments slowly lose their vibrancy and fall into obscurity...Well if you are headed to see the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, these are 4 other sites across the Texas Pecos Trail and TexasForts Trail that have taken historically significant sites and made them relevant in today's society and ever evolving art culture!
View of the Chinati Foundation, site of Fort D.A. Russell
from the fort's Officers Row

Chinati Foundation, Texas Mountain Trail
What was once Fort D. A. Russell is now the Chinati Foundation (, a world renowned Contemporary Art Museum. Fort Russell was first established as a cavalry camp to protect the area during the tumultuous times of Mexican Revolutions and bandits in the early 1900’s. When Pancho Villa’s troops took Ojinaga, Chihuahua, refugees fled Mexico and were housed at this site before being transported on to El Paso. Fort Russell eventually became a site for heavy artillery in the mid-1930’s. As World War II got underway, Fort Russell played a crucial role in the preparation of America’s campaigns into Europe. When the regiments began to move towards the War front, Fort Russell became a camp for German prisoners-of-war, but once the war ended the Fort was quickly phased out as a military site.

Donald Judd and his constituents began bringing this site back into relevance in 1979, taking advantage of the open landscape and the unique lighting/space of the buildings. Today this site houses many permanent large-scale art installations. What is considered by many as Donald Judd’s masterpiece, is housed in two of the bases old artillery sheds. They engage the local community along with bringing new artistic innovations to the public. Read more about Fort D. A. Russell’s history here
Grace Museum, Texas Forts Trail Region
In the late 1880’s and early 1900’s, Abilene quickly became a boon for the cattle industry and their barons along the Pacific Railway. The Grace Hotel was built in 1909 in response to the growing industry. The Hotel, at one point, was the finest of its kind on the railroad between El Paso and Fort Worth, and was the crowning jewel of this booming town. Eventually, though, the decline of the railroad brought about the closing of this great institution.
Abilene began restoring their downtown in the 1980’s, and implemented their vision for a downtown Abilene museum. Today this unique building has transformed into The Grace Museum which houses the Art Museum, History Museum, and the Children’s Museum. A very diverse organization, it provides an experience for the whole family. Read more about the Grace Hotel history here.

2.     Firehouse Gallery Texas Pecos Trail Region
The southern transcontinental railroad line was built through San Felipe Del Rio in 1882, giving Del Rio the sense of permanence and prosperity it needed to survive. The Firehouse was eventually built in 1926 to house the Del Rio City Hall, Police/Fire Department, and jail, and played a crucial role in the management of this emerging border town.
Today the old Firehouse is home to the Del Rio Council for the Arts. They have a gallery with changing art exhibits, host programs/education from culinary to more traditional art classes, and puts on the First Friday Art Walk in downtown Del Rio at the beginning of every month.

3.     Glenn-Dowe House, Texas Pecos Trail Region
Del Rio, being both extremely historically and culturally rich, has another gallery in the Glenn-Dowe House. Daniel Glenn, a contractor, built this home in 1900-1901. With the easy access to the railroad, Mr. Glenn was able to import brick and wood for construction. Amazingly the home has only had 4 owners in its lifetime, meaning very little has structurally changed on the inside or outside of the Victorian Style House. Built on Garfield Avenue, one of the newest and widest streets in Del Rio at the time of construction, the Glenn-Dowe House is now owned by Adrián J. Falcón. Adrián’s gallery of Contemporary Modern Art is based out of this historic home, open to the public 4 days a week.

4.     Old Post Office Museum and Art Center, Texas Forts Trail Region
The Graham Post Office was a WPA project that started construction in 1935. The building itself is a great example of the architectural style Art Moderne, utilized during the Great Depression. The building has kept much of the artistic integrity over the decades.
The town of Graham and Young County has a diverse history with the American Indian Wars, the oil booms of the 1800’s and 1900’s, an extremely rich ranching culture, and a German prisoner-of-war encampment during World War II. Today these periods of history are on exhibit in the Graham Post Office, which is now the museum and art center. The art gallery has rotating exhibits featuring pieces by Texas artists.
Looking for more sites/events going on across our West Texas Regions? Contact Nash Traylor at Fort Lancaster, by email ( or phone (432.836.4391), Like Fort Lancaster on facebook, or visit their website.

Interested in a specific region? Contact Texas MountainTrail , Texas Pecos Trail, or Texas Forts Trail.

Thanks, Nash, for your article and enthusiasm for West Texas history and culture! 

No comments: