Wharton, Texas is the Wharton County Seat, located near the Texas Gulf Coast. On Hwy. 59, it is 57 miles SW of Crazy Town (Houston) and 6 miles from Glen Flora. I arrived in Wharton after spending well over an hour sitting in a Friday afternoon, rush hour traffic jam in Crazy Town (Houston). I can't believe people endure it every day (some twice a day). I don't care how good of a job/career you may have, life's too short. But it was all worth it after I arrived in Wharton (via Rosenberg - a future "small town" post). Rather than present these pictures geographically and spatially (which is my normal method), these are ordered chronologically (starting on Friday night).
Coming from Crazy Town (Houston), I entered Wharton via Hwy. 59, the "old way" - State Hwy. 60. This route took me right by The Tee Pee Motel. It reopened in November, and if I'd known it was open, I'd have stayed there! I nearly ran off the road when I saw this:
Much more on the Tee Pee Motel in just a second, as I went back the next morning, at sunrise (remember, these are ordered chronologically).
But my focus this evening would be on Plaza Theater, where local boy Horton Foote's screenplay of To Kill a Mockingbird was being performed on its last night.
Unfortunately, the red neon letters were all but gone (except for that "A"), but the green and blue neon shone brightly. In addition, the red arrows still travel up and down the theater's facade. It was beautiful, and the fact that "To Kill a Mockingbird" was on the marquee made this visit to Wharton a dream.
I managed to tear myself away from the Tee Pee Motel to return to the old Wharton downtown square to see what was there in the morning light...
Near the square is Dinosaur Park, where the Wharton Art League had done this beautiful mural on the side of this house:
Built on Wharton's Courthouse Square, the Plaza Hotel began circa 1904 as a two-story brick structure with a large dining room on the first floor and 20 rooms to let. A third floor added in 1929 expanded the rooming capacity of the hotel, and included a small opera house. Wharton's first radio station began in July 1933 and operated from the third floor. The lot on which the hotel stood was sold in 1941 to Long-Griffith Theaters. The hotel was gutted and a movie theater built within the brick shell in 1941, and a gala grand opening was held in March 1942. One of three movie theaters in Wharton, the Plaza Theatre operated until the 1970s, when it was closed. In 1990 the Community Theater of Wharton reopened the Plaza Theater to provide live entertainment for the region. (1997)
I thought perhaps this shop's sign was missing a letter, until I turned the corner:
Although the yard was being kept up, this house appeared to be empty and abandoned. Only a block away from the downtown square, this must have been quite a place in its day. Can you imagine growing up there, say in the 40s or 50s?
Another beauty from the Wharton Art League. This one, a recipe for Texas pecan pie! Where once there was only a grey, metal shed...
Alas, it was time to be on my way, and as I left town, I stopped to get some shots of the Wakefield Inn's sign by day. The place had the semblance of Tiki. Perhaps it was only the palm trees.
And my journey to Wharton ended where it began, awed and overwhelmed by a genuine, vintage (albeit restored), roadside attraction: