PLAINVIEW — With so many local artifacts in every room, Gayle Willson has a nickname for her newly-acquired downtown building.
“It’s Plainview’s Titanic,” she joked.
Willson and her husband, Blair, are the new owners of the four-story Skaggs Building in downtown Plainview. Every visit seems to reveal new finds: old fire hoses, books, blueprints of Plainview High School.
Blair Willson agreed, “There’s lots of cool stuff.”
To give back to their hometown, the couple created a nonprofit called Plainview Downtown Restoration. When the Skagg Building’s former owners donated it to the organization, they were ecstatic.
“Of course we jumped at it,” Gayle said with a laugh. “We love this building.”
Funding comes partly from a grant. The Community Foundation of West Texas, a region-wide philanthropic entity created in 1981, awarded $10,000 for the project.
The Skaggs Building is located at 701 Broadway, just north of the Hale County Courthouse. When developers Henry and Nora Skaggs opened it in 1928, Plainview National Bank was its primary tenant. Fixtures such as corner bank vaults display hints to the building’s heyday.
The Willsons have day jobs managing Grand Hearing Center in Central Lubbock; Plainview Downtown Restoration is a side project. Nights and weekends often find them in the Skaggs Building, bursting with plans.
Gayle sees the ground floor as an event venue. She imagines a bride walking down the winding staircase, greeting wedding guests. The rest of the building could house office space or retail businesses, among other possibilities.
“We’d like to get some entrepreneurs in here,” Blair Willson said. “It’s in perfect shape; it’s really nice.”
The idea is to renovate only what needs to be renovated — some chipped paint here and there, a more modern fire-protection system. When it comes to original but still-intact features such as glass doors, the Willsons are taking an if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it approach.
“Everything that’s original, we’re gonna try to maintain it,” Gayle said.
But the Skaggs is just part of a wider-scaler project to renovate downtown Plainview. A stroll through the neighborhood reveals other landmarks in improved condition. There’s the Broadway Brew coffeehouse, for instance; nearby you’ll find the Fair Theatre and the Granada.
Another development is the old Hilton Hotel, which a company agreed in February to transform into a $7.7 million apartment complex.
Carey Cooper is co-owner of CC’s Junque to Antiques, down the street from the Skaggs. Amid greeting customers, she told A-J Media she’s happy for her new neighbors.
“I’m impressed with what is happening with the grant they’ve gotten and the possibilities of where it can go,” she said.