The Grace Cultural Center Museum

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As in life, Spirits come back to visit their favorite hotel in death.

 

 

DESCRIPTION

The three storied, three winged Grace Cultural Center Museum is one of a kind and is truly a treasure to the public that offers a wealth of cultural enrichment; history, art, and educational activities in its ballroom for all ages.

Gifted, creative architects found ways to update to code and renovate this historical hotel building into a large museum that offers “five art galleries displaying temporary exhibitions and works from its permanent art collection”, all located in the north East Wing which overlooks a courtyard; the quietest wing away from street noise and excited children. Also there is an interactive children’s museum, activities in the restored ballroom, and a variety of history galleries with rotating exhibitions.

I would love to see the historical exhibits, artifacts and actual period rooms where everyday activities of people who lived Abilene Texas are there on display. The 3rd floor history gallery has a lot on display. Historically significant objects are part of displays that “tell the story of the evolving cultural and social history of Abilene and West Texas between 1880 and 1950.”

Period parlor and kitchen room displays as well from 1910, 1928, and 1948 and the actual contents/artifacts/tools of longtime Brownwood boot-maker Albert Mallouf’s 1940s era work shop would be the highlight displays for myself, a history enthusiast.

The history gallery also presents changing exhibitions of artifacts curated from The Grace Museum history collection.

 

HISTORY

The Grace Cultural Center Museum structure was built in 1909 and opened for business as the Grace Hotel, a large full service hotel with the finest amenities aimed at offering lodging to railroad travelers. The Gerace Hotel was built right on the railroad line between Fort Worth and El Paso.

The Grace Hotel flourished through WW1, the Great Depression, WW2, the booming 50s. The hotel was renamed The Drake in 1946, just after WW2. The Grace Hotel was a shabby fixer upper by the 1960s’. The structure wasn’t maintained and improvements were not done to make this hotel competitive. Newer hotels built in city and on the outskirts were more appealing to travelers.

In the 1960s, two developments in mass transportation brought more bad news for The Grace Hotel’s economic outlook. More and more people started using the airlines as a main way of travel, and passenger trains fell out of favor. The finances of The Grace Hotel took a major hit when Abilene’s passenger train travel greatly diminished. The hotel closed permanently in 1973. It didn’t make financial sense to restore/renovate this hotel with a boatload of money.

Animals, beasties and vagrants moved inside instead; further deteriorating this once proud building.

By the 1980s the building was in ruins, and was scheduled to be demolished because of the urban redevelopment efforts that hoped to restore the inner city of Abilene and draw people back down to city center. Oh No! However, a group of ambitious and creative civic leaders had the inspiring vision of renovating this historical structure into being a downtown museum. They were inspired because the old Paramount Theatre had been restored to its original beauty, making a very attractive building that drew once again in people to downtown Abilene.

The challenges to renovate this historic hotel required creativity and skill. It obviously didn’t meet safety or health standards. There was no central staircase, a design flaw that didn’t help The Grace Hotel stay open and probably contributed to its downfall.

Historic restoration architect Rick Weather researched and brought back the look of the building in 1935 from a picture that was found, and planned a state-of-the- art museum facility out of the ruins of the old hotel. Looking at the 1935 picture, the cement porch awning was missing, so architects, planned another one. When they started digging into the sidewalk, they found the old posts of the awning, and used them as a guide. The new museum called the Grace Cultural Center opened to the public on February 15, 1992.

Several issues had to be addressed. They had to put in a central staircase that looked like a 1935 staircase but with modern supports. Modern plumbing, lights, air conditioning plus all the requirements needed for a modern public building.

All the individual rooms were dismantled making the needed wide-open exhibit space. The floors near the courtyard had their windows covered in order to cut down on the light and possible noise, making the perfect place for quiet, contemplative art exhibits.

The ballroom was restored and evolved into activity area for children and adult classes, as well as events.

The sky roof area was also repaired and modernized for social events and activities. It has a glorious view of the city.

 

HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS

People who enjoyed being in a hotel while alive, can visit as SPIRITS their favorite places in the building where they had so many wonderful memories. All the paranormal activity has taken place in the ballroom and the third floors.

Sometimes when a historic building has been repurposed, spirits who have had a connection to the structures heartily approve and visit to enjoy what has been done, or even find ways to help.

When the museum is closed, spirits may come back and enjoy the exhibits, especially the historical and art exhibits. Spirits may also quietly be enjoying the new activities happening in the ballroom beautifully restored ballroom.

Sometimes spirits are attached to historical items on display that once were their items in house museums or structural museums. Spectral activity still happens on the third floor.

When an entire room of someones living space or place of work is on display in a historical structure park or a museum, the spirits that are attached to these things or spaces that meant a lot to them while they lived sometimes come along with the exhibit.

Apparently, former owners of the artifacts and rooms on display may like to visit their own stuff.

 

MANIFESTATIONS

Spirits had been letting their presences known before renovation of the 1911 structure, and perhaps different spirits are quietly enjoying their memories through visiting the ballroom and their old earthly stuff. Their tell tale signs of their presence have been reported by an unnamed source: probably by someone who is there at night.

Before the restoration and renovation of this historical building

Spirits had been seen in the ballroom, probably dancing.

Voices and footsteps have been heard.

Spirits have been seen traveling up and down the stairs and floating down the hallways on the third and sometimes on the 4th floors.

Door knobs turned by themselves.

After restoration and renovation into a museum

Ballroom: Spirits still have been remembering their good times.

Disembodied voices, footsteps and apparitions have been seen and heard after hours.

Historical Displays on Third Floor

The Spirit of Albert Mallouff

Albert may be visiting his old boot maker workshop on display on the third floor.

Seems to be popular with spirits:

Disembodied voices and footsteps and perhaps an apparition or two inhabit or visit the third floor historical displays.

Rooftop

Spirits may also enjoy watching the activities on the rooftop area, depending on their interests, though no personal experiences have been publicly reported.

STILL HAUNTED?

Probably so. It would be nice to have more personal experiences and even hard evidence caught recently made public. Paranormal activity sooner or later is made known.

Paranormal groups have had investigations in the abandoned Grace Hotel and caught a lot of hard evidence.

Others have had personal experiences here after hours.

After the renovation of this 1911 building, Paranormal investigators are not allowed inside, but some folks have reported some activity.

As the ballroom was restored, spirits who loved this space before may still enjoy their memories here. Plus, new spirits may be here, mainly on the third floor, where the history exhibits are located. These new spirits may still be attracted to the artifacts, etc in many exhibits after closing hours.

The spirits don’t seem to mind that their personal property / former working or living space is on public display.

Spirits in the ballroom don’t mind sharing the newly restored ballroom with the living. They didn’t have this space to themselves while they were alive.

 

LOCATION

The Grace Cultural Center Museum
102 Cypress St.,
Abilene, TX 79601

The Grace Cultural Museum is located in the former grand old Grace Hotel building. This museum has three wings. The center wing of the Grace Museum sits on Cypress St. The west side North wing (left of the center wing) sits on N. First, and the east side North wing(right of the center) is located off a courtyard with no street noise.

SOURCES INCLUDE

  • www.thegracemuseum.org
  • texasfortstrail.com
  • www.swenson-house.org
  • www.hauntedplaces.org

 
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Texas