A Building Rich in History
At the corner of Highway 285 and Second Street, an old redbrick building with ornate architectural detail once sat in ruin. Originally built in 1895 as The Racket General Store—whose advertising slogan was “everything from the cradle to the grave”—the two-story building had changed hands and names through the years: the Bowen-Joyce General Store, Pecos Mercantile, Pecos City Bakery and, most recently, the Senior Citizens Center.
But the building fell into such disrepair that the seniors moved to a different location, leaving the building unoccupied and crumbling. The building was being considered for demolition.
Bill Oglesby, president of the Pecos Economic Development Corporation (PEDC), had something else in mind, though. Born and raised in Pecos, and a staunch supporter of keeping the history of Pecos alive, Oglesby saw something special in the old building and started a campaign to save it.
He successfully gained permission from the city for PEDC to take ownership of the building and start renovations. The integrity of the brick, wood, cement and red sandstone from The Barstow Quarry was preserved, and the building was updated to serve as a modern office.
Since PEDC is one of the first stops that visitors and new companies make when coming to the Pecos area, Oglesby felt their space should reflect the city’s historical pride while also representing Pecos as a forward-thinking community. So in November 2015, PEDC moved into the newly renovated building.
About the Renovations
When PEDC gained ownership of the building, the walls were covered with dark brown paneling, the ceilings had collapsed, dirty carpet covered the floors and the second story had been removed due to deterioration. Oglesby joined forces with local construction company Z-Tek, whose owner, C. J. Zuniga, suggested the entry ceiling be demolished to create a dramatic entrance.
The reception room now has impressive 18-foot ceilings with low-hanging ceiling fans and an enormous natural stone chandelier. Tex-Mex furnishings add an extra touch of culture, and the walls will soon be home to historical pictures of Pecos. Recently, a new brightly lit sign was placed on the front of the building and security fencing was built in the back.
Longtime residents of Pecos have commented on their memories of the old building and how wonderful it is to see that it’s been given new life, and out-of-town guests often remark on its charm and usefulness.
(No mean tax monies were used in the renovations; all costs were derived from right-of-way agreements.)
Building Layout and Amenities
A wide hallway leads to offices on one side for Oglesby and new Assistant Director Ken Winkles, Jr., and a large conference room on the other side. Farther down the hall is a less-formal meeting room with tables, chairs and a full kitchen. And the staff gained something badly needed: plenty of room for files and storage.
In addition, every room has been electronically updated. The televisions throughout the office were part of a grant awarded to PEDC about four years ago; they are used for presentations to the board and to new and prospective clients. A third office is rented by Sul Ross University.