Like Dolly Parton or Helen Mirren, Round Top is dazzlingly well-preserved. But where did it all start? Where does the history of the hamlet begin?
Leave it to newcomer Townsend Provisions to inform us that before Round Top, TX was Round Top, TX it was Townsend, TX.
Yep, Townsend, as in Asa, Stephen, Spencer, John, J.T. William, Nathaniel and Samuel Townsend. An entire set of eight brothers born near the Great Pee Dee River in South Carolina, all of whom made their way to the rolling prairies of Central Texas. With so many fine upstanding Townsends in the area, I guess it just made good sense to go ahead and call the place Townsend.
So when/why/how did Townsend become Round Top? Well, a few years into Townsend’s township someone built the post office and gave it an “odd shaped tower.” The next thing you know the name was changed to Round Top. Seems like there’s bound to be more to the story than that (scandal, payoff, family feud, something…) but that’s the official version and so it’ll be The Crush List version too.
Take a look around Townsend Provisions, one of the latest and most definitely greatest shops in the wonderful place that once had an odd shaped post office tower that we now call Round Top.
Fun, right? Well, that’s just the front space. You’ll also want a peek at the vintage boot room. Especially if you don’t have a pair for antiques show shopping yet.
Quick clarification: For those of you who’ve hurt your ankle by stepping in a snake hole or miscalculating the distance between your bed and the floor or some other unfortunate incident, you may be familiar with a Townsend Boot. They don’t sell those here.
Sometimes I travel the Round Top area for no purpose except to stumble upon something incredible. Kind of like the way I take a nap just to tap into my creative mind. Plus I like to drive around. And nap.
Aimless wandering is how I found the Old Feed Mill in Burton, TX, owned and managed as an antique shop, real estate office and filming location by the accomplished, highly informed and hospitable Roger Chambers.
The space stunned me (and my iPhone 6 camera) with its light, its volume, the preservation of its original purpose and its near perfect assortment of well-priced home-style antiques. Roger kindly explained all sorts of feed mill processes and engineering details as I poked around. I’m still savoring the image of a huge blower sending swirls of shucked oats streaming up a long ductwork pipe and outside into a vat of molasses.
No further words necessary. Enjoy the sweet feed of photos.
The Lone Star Gallery is a star to me because during the antique off-season it runs Texas Trade Days on the second Saturday of every month. It’s such a comfortably chilly time to shop Warrenton. See how the shoppers in the picture below are wearing parkas? Probably even socks! How many women in socks do you see during the Spring and Fall Shows?
The Lone Star takes up a couple of big buildings that at one time housed antique cars, and it’s a great mix of tidy booths and big old tables piled with things like aprons. I use it as the foundation of my winter weekend Round Top Field Trip agendas. I just add some pie, some culture and a stop at my usual year round retail faves and I’ve got a real nice day on my hands.
Of course you can also shop the Lone Star during the Show weeks. It’s nice and chilly then too. A/C!
My office was once in a toolshed in our backyard. It was all silk-purse tricked-out with nice paneling and a huge window, but we still called it the “Sow’s Ear.” The best part of the space was the no-sew (is there any other kind in my world?) window valence I made out of old aprons. You should try it. Just get a rod or a branch or a pipe or whatever and then use the apron ties as tab ties. It sounds kind of over-countrified, but if you use the right aprons it can look better than you’d think.
Have you heard about that One Red Paperclip guy who turned a paperclip into a house in fourteen online trades? My favorite was his trade of a year’s rent in Phoenix, AZ for an afternoon with Alice Cooper.
So how about a Texas Trade Days Trade Challenge? Buy something like the treasures in the photos below and see what you can trade it into. Good luck!
UPDATE: It really was fine. Sadly, Thunderbird Ranch is no longer open but we’re happy to have this post to remember it by!
I watched a pair of longhorns chase each other around a stock pond yesterday. Right in downtown Round Top. Because this is the southwest after all. Thunderbird Ranch Fine Art gallery celebrates all things cowboy, cowgirl and just plain cow in a charming space right on Bybee Square. I’ve spent a bit of time in the west-er parts of the southwest and this spot brings all that right to us. Denise Jacobs is the expert curator behind all of it, so go on in and ask her anything while you check out that snakeskin barbed wire piece you know you want.
If you know this folk song you can hum it while you look at the rest of the photos. If you don’t know it, you might want to spend a moment here and then carry on with the photos.
Hey y’all, the Spring Show is a month away and I hope you’ve been taking care of business. Have you… scheduled your vacation days/given after-school a heads up/measured the fireplace wall, twice/counted your secret cash stash/and all that? Proper preparation is key to Show enjoyment!
I couldn’t even imagine what a dealer’s Show Prep To Do list would look like. OK, you’re right. Imagining what a dealer’s Show Prep To Do list looks like is exactly the kind of thing I would do. I’ve asked a couple of dealers to share their lists with me, but somehow sharing their lists of todo’s isn’t on their list of todo’s because they’re so darn busy doing their todo’s. Hey, I get it.
Matt White of Recycling The Past is one of the Show’s most well-known, well-liked and well-stocked dealers. A doer extraordinaire. So it’s quite cool that he has a huge new warehouse in Warrenton open for shoppers any weekend of the year, provided we kindly email or call ahead. The space is both a gigantical back room for several dealers’ booths and a cozy hangout headquarters. Squooshy sofas and a full kitchen and sleeping spaces are tucked into one corner of the building, completely surrounded by airplane parts and slabs of wood and disco balls and a jeep and just look.
The warehouse is known as The Round Top Ballroom. Obviously it makes for an event space like no other, and word is it’s just waiting for its first wedding. I hope it’s yours! Weddings in unexpected places are a big favorite of mine, just ask anyone who attended ours at Miami’s Monkey Jungle. (Tagline: “Where the Humans are Caged and the Monkeys Run Wild!”) Since I don’t need a wedding, I’m thinking of putting on a big old music party out there one of these Shows. Wanna come?
If you’re lucky, you’ve had a store just like this in your life.
When I was a kid, about once a year we’d go to visit my grandparents at their horse farm in Ocala, Florida. The big day trip of our stay was up to Micanopy, a tiny nearby town that my Grandmadean used to say had “possibilities.” I remember the Micanopy General Store because it had toilets hanging from the ceiling, which I guess was terrible feng shui but seemed like merchandising genius to me. In fact, I was such a fan of my visits to Micanopy that years later my husband and I spent our entire honeymoon there, except for the afternoon we drove to the Bob Evans in Gainesville for lunch.
So this post is for Micanopy’s General Store… and for Depasquale’s in Newtonville, MA (home of an amazing capicola, provolone and red pepper sandwich)… and for Petrillo’s Market on Miami Beach (where I once stood in line behind Silence of the Lambs author Thomas Harris who is apparently very private but I’m going to gossip and tell you he was buying a bottle of red wine to take to his office upstairs)… and all the other genuine neighborhood markets that continue to offer a non-homogenized, family-run retail way of life that’s fading far too fast.
Yes, those are boxes of ammo shelved right above the cans of yams. And no, I’ve never tried Underwood White Meat Chicken Spread. Please share a recipe in the comment section below if you know how to make it yummy. Maybe like a Tuna Melt? And no, I don’t understand how shaving powder works. Same request.
I hope you’ll pretend you’re standing in front of Jerry’s and really take time to read these bulletin boards. Did you ever wonder why there aren’t more bulletin board inspired hipster art shows? Seems like an idea that’s ripe for the pickin’. I know, I know, if you want something done right…
In this random list of my very favorite things about my very favorite place I’ve tried to capture the area’s special pieces and parts. Some are big deal, some are small gestures, some are legendary and some are just tiny pip and squeak.
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