Tasked with preserving the history of Bandera County, members and volunteers of the Bandera County Historical Commission (BCHC) are visiting key sites around the county to view how restoration efforts are helping to save and improve the county’s historic buildings.
Past meeting locations in the last year included the River Oaks Motor Court in Medina, Texas as well as the new addition of the Medina
Community Library that was designed by famed Texas architectural firm, Lake Flato. Members have also visited the County Clerk’s office in Bandera’s historic Courthouse and the county’s off-site archival holdings.
In May, the BCHC had the pleasure of touring the iconic Pipe Creek General Store and Dance Hall. Leading the tour was the owner, Bruce Martin.
Martin not only pointed out the extensive restoration work he has completed but also gave the history of the location.
Located at the corner of Highway 16 and County Road 1283, the land has been occupied since the late 1870s, when William Hamilton built a cotton gin and grist mill.
In 1911, Felix and Harriet Newcomer ran a general store on the corner. By 1924, Adolph Schott took over the store.
In 1930, Schott built the dance hall. The hall not only offered music and dancing but was also used to show movies and even host skating parties.
The original store building had to be replaced in 1936 when Highway 16 was widened and paved. This is the building that stands today next to the dance hall. It was the first store in Pipe Creek to receive electricity in 1940. The building would also house a café.
After the last café closed, Martin bought the entire property in 2014 in order to preserve this bit of local history and to continue the tradition of the dance hall and store building operating as a gathering place for the community.
Martin worked to restore the buildings by not only keeping much of the original woodwork, but adding period woodwork salvaged from other buildings built in the 1930s.
A covered deck was built between the store building and the dance hall that appears to be original to the structure because of Martin’s meticulous use of salvaged wood.
Updates to the complex included structural upgrades such as new air conditioning and plumbing as well as inte rior upgrades such as the addition of a large rock fireplace and sitting area in what was once a storage room, giving the appearance of a comfy living room in an old lodge.
The BCHC tour group were thrilled to see original shiplap exposed along the walls and ceilings.
The entire property consists of three acres and two other buildings – a small stone cottage and a carriage house along with a storage silo and the remains of the old cotton gin and fireplace from the 1800s. Martin also built an out
Martin also built an outdoor stage area and pavilion with a large outdoor dancefloor. Today, the property hosts market days and functions as an event venue for parties, galas, family functions, and weddings.
After the tour, Rebecca Norton, historical commission chairperson, remarked, “The property is a wonderful example of how reuse and restoration can save a historic property. We’re so fortunate that someone like Bruce purchased the property and had the passion and vision to not only save the dance hall and general store, but to create a new space from the old.”
The old Pipe Creek dance hall and store will continue to be a part of the county’s history just as it has been for the last 100 years.