Thursday, March 17, 2011

San Angelo, Texas

We had a very interesting day yesterday touring this town (population 90,000). Our first stop was the visitor's center, where we left our car and began our walking tour. While John got caught up in a lengthy discussion about the town with two men inside (Jerry and John), I wandered out the back door and immediately started taking pictures of the gardens and river walk. What a beautiful place for a visitor's center!
The sculpture in the foreground is of two women. San Angelo is named after the 16th Century saint for whom the wife of the town's founder was named, Carolina Angela de la Garza Dewitt. The saint, St.Angela Merci, is honored as the dominant figure in the sculpture. In the background is a statue of an ewe. That ewe was the first of many located through out the town. The one above is called "Welcoming Ewe",  the next one we saw in town was "Ewe've Got Mail". The next big item which we saw is the mural pictured below. West Texas is a large livestock area, in particular, sheep and cattle.
This town is replete with artwork, but more on that in my next posting.  The Concho River runs through the town. It is known for its many species of shellfish. When the Spanish explorers came to this area they found the Indians wearing the purple pearls found in the Concho river valley (Spanish word for Concho  is "shell"). The Spanish named the river for the unique purple Tampico Pearlymussle. There are at least two jewelry stores in San Angelo which sell the pearls. We stopped at one of them where the owner was very willing to show us the mussel shell and the different pieces of jewelry he had which features the gem. The shells are getting harder to find, and they are also dangerous to harvest as they lie among snakes. From that shop we continued to walk through the historic district of town. We were surprised to find that many of the buildings have been designated as National Historic Landmarks. One shop, the Sassy Fox, still has its unique mosaic floor. While wandering in that shop the sign below caught my eye.
Notice the brick wall, a common feature of the older buildings. Also, many of the restored Victorian buildings still have their painted tin ceilings. The Cactus Hotel was another one of the buildings which we toured. It was the fourth hotel constructed by Conrad Hilton in 1929. It has a Spanish baroque lobby and impressive "Crystal Ballroom". The 14 story building is now a multi use property. The lobby of the hotel, pictured below, may be rented out for weddings.

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