Fun things to do in Abilene

  • Taylor County Courthouse
    Taylor County Courthouse
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  • Old Taylor County Courthouse
    Old Taylor County Courthouse
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  • Abilene Welcome Center
    Abilene Welcome Center
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Abilene

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    O'Kelly Office Building

    by Basaic Written Jun 27, 2013

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    The O'Kelly Building was completed in 1929 by David S. Castle using the Art Deco style of architecture. It housed the W. G. Waldrop and Company furniture store, and later Montgomery Wards from 1934 to 1959. I like the style of this building a lot.

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    Mims Building

    by Basaic Written Jun 27, 2013

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    The Mims Building was completed in 1926 by businessmen W. O. Wooten, W. G. Swenson, and George Paxton. It was also designed by David S. Castle and was one of two major office buildings constructed in Abilene during the building boom in the 1920s. The Mims Building was the center of many of the financial and business deals in Abilene for many years.

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    Hotel Wooten

    by Basaic Written Jun 27, 2013

    The Hotel Wooten was completed in 1930 by prominent Abilene businessman W. O. Wooten and was one of several buildings in the district designed by David S. Castle, and uses the Art Deco style of architecture. Its 16 story height and distinctive style have made it a landmark here in Abilene since its completion.

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    The Federal Building

    by Basaic Written Jun 27, 2013

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    There was a federal building completed on this spot in 1901; complete with a large Victorian style bandstand. On 27 September 1927, Charles Lindberg spoke here from the bandstand. When the current Federal Building was completed in 1937 Abilene citizens successfully fought the destruction of the old building; but it torn down in 1964 anyway, to make room for expansion of the current facilities. On the far left of the photo you can barely make out part of "The Windsor". This hotel was leased in 1927 by Conrad Hilton and was the first hotel to bear his name.

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    Pine Street and the Pine Street Shootout

    by Basaic Written Jun 27, 2013

    Much of the old historic district is centered around Cypress and Pine Streets. Abilene in general and Pine Street in particular, quickly achieved a reputation for being rough and lawless after it was established in 1881. When the town incorporated in 1883, a series of laws were enacted in an attempt to "civilize" the town and attract more visitors and settlers. It became illegal to shoot a firearm within the city limits and gambling was outlawed. On 8 January 1884, Frank Collins an Abilene City Alderman and his brother Walter, a Taylor County Deputy Sheriff entered a bar on Pine Street and an argument started with the owner of the bar over the new ordinances. At the end of the fight Walter Collins and the bar owner, Zeno Hemphill were dead and Frank Collins died a few months later. This incident made the enforcement of the new ordinances a higher priority and resulted in the appointment of John J. Clinton as City Marshal, a position he held for 37 years. Abilene also voted for a state prohibition measure, although statewide the measure was defeated. Abilene voted to become a "dry" county (meaning the sale of alcohol was prohibited) in 1902. That status remained for about 75 years.

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    Abilene Commercial Historic District

    by Basaic Written Jun 27, 2013

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    There are quite a few very interesting buildings of historical and/or architectural significance in the Abilene Commercial Historic District, including some listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the most interesting buildings are along Pine and Cypress Streets. Info on some specific buildings, follows.

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    Texas and Pacific Railroad Depot

    by Basaic Written Jun 24, 2013

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    Another very interesting building, historically and architecturally, is the Texas and Pacific Railroad Depot and the freight depot. The Texas and Pacific Railroad was commissioned to build a rail line through Texas to the West Coast. The railroad was instrumental in the settlement of much of West Texas and brought settlers and prosperity to the area. Abilene was established in 1881 when the railroad came through and lots went up for auction. The main depot has been restored to its 1920 appearance.

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    Veterans Memorials

    by Basaic Written Jun 24, 2013

    Abilene has one of my favorite veterans memorials anywhere. You can see the tension and fatigue on the face of the soldier and I relly like the stylized American Eagle. They also have walls dedicated to the two world wars and some commemorating local units and individuals.

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    Abilene Public Library

    by Basaic Written Jun 24, 2013

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    The Abilene Public Library is a good alternative to the welcome center. The people here are very knowledgeable and proud of their town. They can give directions and make recommendations on how to best enjoy your visit. You can also access the Internet here to keep up with the latest on VT.

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    Other Arts and Culture

    by Basaic Written Jun 24, 2013

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    In addition to the museums and galleries I have mentioned there are other arts, theater, and cultural venues in the old downtown area like the Cockrell Galleries (another home of working artists) and the Abilene Ballet Theater. I did not look around these much; just wanted to let you know they are there.

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    Cat in the Hat

    by Basaic Written Jun 22, 2013

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    One must do if you are traveling with kids (or the young at heart), is to stop and see the Cat in the Hat statue and take their pictures with it. I always enjoyed Dr. Seuss. In the historic downtown area

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    Center for Contemporary Arts

    by Basaic Written Jun 22, 2013

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    The Abilene Center for Contemporary Arts is a combination of four galleries showing works by regional, national and international artists and photographers and 10 working studios housing 70 artists. The center hosts 24 exhibits using a variety of media, each year. Hours are 11 AM to 5 PM Tuesday through Saturday.

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    Displays at 12th Division Museum

    by Basaic Written Jun 22, 2013

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    The displays are arranged with a general area, showing training at home and by campaigns. The displays I have chosen to show you here are: A general display; the unit's uniforms; morale support; a typical field operations tent; and a touching display honoring the fallen.

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    12th Armored Division Memorial Museum

    by Basaic Written Jun 22, 2013

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    The 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum tells the story of the "Hellcat" division based out of nearby Camp Barkeley during World War II. The 12th fought in Germany and France and served in occupied Japan after the war. The museum has quite a few well done displays depicting the history of the division, along with an impressive collection of memorabilia from its campaigns in WWII. The museum also houses a collection of educational materials for those wishing to conduct more thorough research into the division and the war. Hours are 10 AM to 5 PM Tuesday through Saturday; they are closed on Sunday and Monday. There was an admission charge but I do not remember exactly what it was (I think $3 to $5)..

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    Frontier Texas!

    by Basaic Written Jun 22, 2013

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    The thing that might make you want to plan some time for the welcome center, however, is that it is also the location of "Frontier Texas!". Frontier Texas consists of: The Welcome Theater, a holographic introduction of the "Spirit Guides" that will guide you through the attractions; Spirit Gallery, which uses multimedia to let you experience the lives of soldiers, lawmen, outlaws, buffalo hunters, and homemakers guided by the likes of Cynthia Ann Parker and Doc Holliday; and the Century of Adventure which is a surround sound adventure where you can experience a saloon shootout, a wolf attack, and a buffalo stampede. Don't miss the outdoor stuff. Hours are 9 AM to 6 PM Monday through Saturday, and 1 PM to 5 PM on Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults; $6 for seniors (60 and up) and for military; $5 for students and teachers (with valid ID); $4 for kids 3 to 12; and free for kids under 3.

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