Texas abounds with opportunities for this feature, and some seem irretrievable, lost and gone. Doesn't seem to be the case here, but

Wikipedia notes what happened lately:

Rockdale was the site of a large Alcoa smelting operation, which could produce 1.67 million pounds of aluminum per day. The ALCOA plant profoundly changed the city, as noted in a Saturday Evening Post article by Rockdale native George Sessions Perry - within a few years of its arrival in 1952, Rockdale almost doubled in population, changing in character from a predominantly agricultural economy to one heavily driven by manufacturing jobs. The ALCOA plant was partially closed in late 2008 - early 2009.

It's completely closed now. The company said it was not competitive with "other smelters globally."

The town grew up alongside a train line, the International-Great Northern Railroad. Their depot:

I wondered what the Great Snortin' was doing down in Texas, but the famed Minnesota line was a different company. The Great Northern Railway. I'm sure they didn't chose the name of the Texas line to make people think they were part of that successful company. Nah.

So what's downtown? This off-putting piece of visual abrasion:

A facade job, or new construction? The door is situated like a 60s building, and the same goes for the window. If I had to guess: bank or public building of some sort.

It's certainly arresting, I'll give it that.

NOTE: in the middle of writing this, I found a resource that gives some context. It seems to have replaced another structure.

Full enshinglement in the Buckaroo Revival style, with late 60s / early 70s faux stone for the full length:

Think of men with wide lapels and thick ties and brown-rimmed glasses and combovers and polyester shirts, and that's who clustered around the day they had their grand opening.

As the song says: something's happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear.

It looks like a second floor was lopped off and the windows filled in, but the proportions are wrong, and the roofline pyramids look original.

The town went all-out when it seemed like Pepto-Bismol might build plant:

Thin bricks indicate a 50s makeover; the corners show the tell-tale signs of glue daubs, suggesting Vitrolite or porcelain plates. Which might have been put up in the 30s or 40s.

Overall it looks as if it lost a story - the second, in between the first and third.

The building on the left looks like an indifferent Rock 'em-Sock 'em robot:

On the right - why, look! Buckaroo Revival of the most delicate sort.

Yes, that's a great place for shingles! And as long as they're at it:

It must have been beautiful, once - imagine that window glowing in the twilight.

Tire & Automotive . . .

. . . and treasures.

On the edge of downtown, looking as if it's 1948:


And it's open! Take a look at how rotten it was before renovation.

There was another theater . . . but we'll get to that.

A hopeful sign: old structures respectfully renovated.

One more note:

From 1992 to 2011, the Rockdale facility had been the sole supplier of the aluminum powder used to propel U. S. space shuttles.

Ironically, the commander on three shuttle missions,— pilot on a fourth and mission specialist on a fifth—was a Rockdale native.

Ken Cockrell commanded shuttle missions in 2002, 2001 and 1996, piloted a 1995 flight and first flew into space aboard a 1993 mission.

Cockrell is a 1968 graduate of Rockdale High School and won an Alcoa scholarship that year.

Wonder if he got gas here, or whether it had been shuttered even then:


There's more: have a look.

Bonus fun: look at this photograph, and see if you can find the street. The 7th building from the corner is still around.





A humble start to this year's entry. Population: 3,460, give or take a few souls. It has ambition, though: the hotel no doubt made everyone think of the bustling train depot in old Gotham, with its brisk, sophisticated cosmopolitan scene.

It has a Facebook page. One comment: "The rooms are clean upon arrival but not much by way of getting towels and tp on a regular basis if your stay is extended. We ended up having to buy our own. Owners are really friendly though." That counts for more than you might think,

Unhappy brickwork on that green building. But a ghost sign redeems the view:

Owl Cigars. But was it a White Owl? That's what I don't know. Some signs for the White Owl brand said just Owl. If they'd have had modern marketing sensibiilties, they would have had White Owl, Black Owl, and so on, differentiating the flavors.

Barn Owl for the really nasty cheroots.

And what, pray tell, do they sell here?

I have no idea what they're talking about. One guy sitting at a card table with a stack of daily periodicals, waiting for someone to walk by and think "by cracky, I wonder how many they have. I'd like to read a journal from a different city entirely, just to see how many funerals there are for old ladies this week."

That's a lot of turret, Mr. Hetzel.

A Nebraska historical journal says "A majority of the structures are best classified as commercial vernacular. The most prominent, Queen Anne-style building is the Hetzel Block (NH01-044), located on the southeast corner of J Street and Central Avenue. It features an imposing corner tower, carved stonework and an ornate cornice."

And that's a big fat lot of help. Who was Hetzel?

Four buildings? Or one?

The answer can be found in the number of windows.

After all these towns we've explored, you have to admit: this is all too typical. From the rehab to the awning to the paint to the refitted window.


As if a curse had stricken the land.

I have to think there was more to this one, but what remains is spectacular:


The reason for those windows? If you guessed "hall for secret Masonic rites," you're wrong. It was the New Opera House. Again, scant historical information; Auburn seems underwhelmed by its past, or disinclined to share what it knows.

Can't have the Main Streets feature without the OSA, or Obligatory Shingled Awning:

The first-floor windows above the main windows are probably bricked up for good, but the building looks like it could be restored with minimal work.

Providing there was a market for office / residential at the price it would take to fix it up, and I'm guessing there isn't. But that's what they said about Fargo before its renaissance.

The last building in the world you'd expect to house a theater:

It's still in business! The site has a "Save the State" page, though. Uh oh. Turns out it's for a renovation drive. There are no historical photos of the place. There's no history of the place.

I suppose if you needed to know, you'd know, because you lived there. It was originally the Booth - great name for a theater in a state whose capital is named Lincoln - and was renamed the state in 1941, eleven years after it opened.

Finally: The sign version of screen burn-in.

  Love that 9, although I'm sure everyone wondered why they did it backwards.


I believe this old book of biographies has our man:

Previous to his coming to Nebraska Mr. Keedy was for several years engaged in the manufacture of lime at Keedysville. He came west in 1881, locating near what was then called Sheridan, now Auburn, and here he bought one hundred and sixty acres of improved land, upon which he carried on farming until the fall of 1893, when he sold to his sons, and bought two lots in Auburn. Here he built his present residence.

When a young man in Maryland, Mr. Keedy was intiated into the mysteries of Oddfellowship. Politically, he is what is termed an independent, and in religion he also holds independent views, and has never identified himself with any creed.

There has to be a fascinating story about the reason a man named Keedy would leave Keedysville.