Most Famous Landmarks in Abilene
Abilene has a lot of "historical landmarks" many of which have played a roll in shaping the American landscape. Some of our landmarks are still used today, while others have either disappeared over the years or are in bad disrepair. One landmark building that played a key roll in Abilene's growth and success is the T&P Railroad Station, built in 1910.
The most important landmark in the making of Abilene as a thriving West Texas city has to be the T&P Railroad. The railroad was here at least a dozen years prior to the T&P Depot Station at 1101 North First Street (built in 1907). It was key in bringing the people and goods that settled our All-America City. Today the trains still roll through Abilene stopping occasionally to load or off-load goods. As for the T&P Depot building, it's home to the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce.
The most famous landmark in Abilene has to be the Windsor Hotel 401 Pine street downtown. Although it wasn't always known as the Windsor hotel. It was originally know as the "Hilton Hotel," the third in Conrad Hilton's hotel empire. It was built in 1927 and hosted numerous presidential and political hopefuls throughout the years. Today it's an apartment complex, and up until the early '80's the 11th floor was home to radio station KNIT later to become KEAN. The architecture today is still reminiscent of the 1920's and upon occasions the Windsor plays host to weddings and reunions.
The Hotel Grace at 102 Cypress was built by Col. W.L. Beckham of Greenville, Texas who named the hotel after his 18-year-old daughter Grace Beckham. The Grace functioned for many years as a Hotel and a the Grace Coffee Shop. The Grace was constructed in 1909 and for many years (at least up until 1927) was Abilene's premier hotel. It was also the first sight seen by railroad passengers arriving in Abilene.
Under the heading famous military installations should be, Camp Barkeley the largest United States Army training installation during World War II. At one time Barkeley housed over 60,000 enlisted men and women. What I found most striking is that during that time Camp Barkeley was a "German prisoner of war" camp. When several Germans escaped from their makeshift prison, by tunneling under the fence Abilene's citizens were shocked. By 1945 Camp Barkeley was closed and was designated surplus. Today only cows and coyotes roam the once famous camp, only a small historical marker is left as a reminder.
The Alexander Building may very well be the most famous building of all in Abilene, but famous within the medical community of the day. Dr. James M. Alexander, a prominent physician ordered the building constructed in 1925 and was the first highrise building in Abilene when completed in 1927. Dr. Alexander not only ran a successful practice from 104 Pine Street, but he turned the top six-floors into the Alexander Sanitarium, one of the first hospitals in West Texas. Today the Alexander building houses for the most part lawyers offices.