Frontier Heritage Tour
Follow this "Frontier Heritage" tour at your own pace.
Start at Abilene's premier interactive history museum. Frontier Texas brings to life the drama and hardships of the Texas frontier from 1780 to 1880.
The Grace Museum
102 Cypress St. - 325-673-4587 - Tues. - Sat., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The historic building that currently houses The Grace Museum was built in 1909 as the Grace Hotel, a large full service hotel and the finest located on the railroad line between Fort Worth and El Paso. The hotel was renamed The Drake in 1946 and flourished until the 1960s as downtown Abilene declined, and as passenger train travel greatly diminished. The hotel closed permanently in 1973. By the 1980s the building was in ruin and inhabited by rats, vagrants, and cats. In the 1980s a group of visionaries sought to restore downtown Abilene beginning with the historic Paramount Theater.
In the 21st century, downtown Abilene is vital and bustling with twenty-two historic buildings restored and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2010, the Texas Commission for the Arts recognized Abilene as one of five most important cities in Texas with historic downtown arts districts.
There has been an art museum in Abilene since the 1920s. Beginning with an art gallery in the Carnegie Library, and later the Abilene Fine Arts Museum was founded in 1937 in a small building in Rose Park. Cultural and civic-minded citizens of Abilene had been collecting art for decades for the benefit of the citizens of Abilene, and today many of the stars of The Grace Museum’s permanent art collection were acquired in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1998 the official name of the downtown museum became The Grace Museum.
On View:Historic Period Rooms showcasing Abilene from 1910 - 1940s.
Evidence remained of the life of the homesteader, but Abilene was beginning to urbanize. An electric streetcar system had just begun service. The state-run Epileptic Colony was celebrating its seventh birthday and was the city’s largest employer. Following drought-breaking rains, the city’s water supply seemed secure. Although electricity was appearing in some houses, gas was still in dominant use for interior lighting. The town’s location on the main line of the T&P Railway made delivery of catalogue goods simple for anyone capable of purchasing them.
James Leddy Boots
1602 North Treadaway - 325-677-7811 - Open weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This active boot workshop is in full view, and the owners are always willing to take guests around to see the whole boot-making process. Each boot has a story, and the shop includes a nice-sized room stocked with Leddy boots that guests can peruse. Leddy's celebrity clients have included Western singing stars such as George Jones, Mel Tillis, Larry Gatlin, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buck Owens. Famous ranchers and not-so-famous hard-working farmers love to order Leddy's boots and don't mind that he there is normally a six-month to one-year waiting list.
Lankford's Mesquite Furniture & Artisan's Gallery
1042 Cottonwood (off Treadaway) - 325-670-9888
Terry Lankford fashions ranch-style furniture and accessories that capture the natural beauty of Texas Mesquite. His creations are in demand through custom orders from around the country, but he often has pieces for sale right outside his workshop.
5-D Custom Hats and Leather
517 Oak St. - 325-673-9000 - Open Mon-Sat, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Owner Damon Albus stocks cowboy accessories and crafts custom hats. Guests are welcome to look at the workshop, where he also creates custom leather goods. 5-D is a complete hat shop and can handle any service your might need for a new hat or refurbishing your favorite old hat.
Taylor County History Center
Complete your tour at the History Center. The TCHC displays and interprets the area's history from the 1870s to 1920s Over 21-buildings filled with artifacts an extensive collection of Indian artifacts and firearms await you!