Reinventing downtown Temple
Festival grounds, parking garages, utility enhancements and new apartments are among the many construction projects in the booming entertainment district.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 13, 2021
“One of the projects in the works is the MLK Festival Grounds. It will provide a big open space that can be used to attract more outdoor events downtown similar to the Bloomin’ Temple Festival.”
Construction is going to be a part of life in downtown Temple during the next year or so. Big projects have started or soon will begin throughout the entertainment district.
Festival Grounds among big projects
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Temple’s downtown area is a busy place, and it’s about to get a lot busier.
Enhancements to Santa Fe Plaza and 1st Street are now complete, and attention will now be focused on a number of projects throughout the downtown area, said David Patrick of KPA Engineering.
KPA works with the city of Temple by providing engineering services.
“One of the projects in the works is the MLK Festival Grounds,” Patrick said. “It will provide a big open space that can be used to attract more outdoor events downtown similar to the Blooming’ Temple Festival.”
The Festival Grounds are bounded by the railroad tracks, Avenue B, 4th Street and MLK Boulevard.
Part of the project includes cleaning up the utility lines in the area, Patrick said.
“Powerlines will be moved underground to create a clean landscape,” he said. “Utility poles will be removed.”
The project, which carries a $2.7 million price tag, includes restrooms and permanent power. In the past, generators have been taken to the site to provide electricity.
“There also will be all-weather access to the grounds,” Patrick said. “Equipment can be moved in or out regardless of weather conditions.”
The MLK Festival Grounds project also involves the renovations of two buildings — 301 and 302 S. 4th.
One of the buildings will be converted into a green room for entertainers and VIPs, complete with a kitchen and restrooms. Typically, Patrick explained, a green room serves as a waiting area and lounge for performers before, during and after a show when they are not on stage.
The other building will be used for storage, he said.
Work on the Festival Grounds project is expected to be finished this April.
The Festival Grounds are part of improvements along Temple’s Santa Fe Market Trail, connecting the park-like area to the rest of downtown. A future plan — the Avenue C project — will extend the trail all the way to Ferguson Park on Temple’s east side.
Patrick said the Festival Grounds are just part of projects in the downtown area.
“The big projects people are waiting for are the two parking garages,” he said. “Construction starts within the month and they should be complete by Oct. 2022.”
One of the garages will be on Central Avenue between 4th and 6th streets, just across 4th from the Hawn Hotel. This garage will have a ground floor of offices, retail stores and restaurants with about 415 parking spots on upper levels.
The other garage, located at the intersection of 1st Street and Avenue A, will have around 235 spaces.
Sidewalk improvements on Central Avenue between 31st Street and downtown are nearly complete, Patrick said.
“It’s about a block from being complete,” he said. “When Central is finished, the crew will move over to Adams.”
Another big project in the area is updating Central Avenue between 2nd and 6th in the area where residential development is under way. Waco-based Turner | Behringer is about to start renovations on the Hawn, the old Arcadia Theater, the Sears building and a small auto shop located between the Sears building and the new Precious Memories Downtown.
When complete, the Hawn and Sears buildings will be home to 57 downtown apartments ranging from one bedroom to three. The Arcadia will be outfitted as a performance venue.
Across Central work continues on another residential project, this one converting the old professional Building to the Central Plaza Apartments.
“The city will be updating lighting in the area, improving sidewalks and adding some landscaping,” Patrick said. “It’s a vision similar to what we had with 1st Street.”
“I’m really excited to see permanent residences come to downtown,” he said. “Once they are in place, downtown will really take off. The day will come when there won’t be a vacant building in the area.”
The move to Temple increases the overall strength of the Texas Army National Guard and brings tanks back to the Texas Guard for the first time since 2004.
Guard uncasing ceremony is Oct. 29
By DAVID STONE, Our Town
The newest occupants of the Texas Army National Guard station in Temple will officially uncase its regiment colors Friday, Oct. 29, during a 10 a.m. ceremony at Santa Fe Plaza.
The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment of the 3rd Squadron, 36th Infantry Division arrived in Temple this summer from Pennsylvania and consists of 607 soldiers, Bradley fighting vehicles, tanks and other equipment. The bulk of the heavy equipment will be kept at the unit’s training grounds at Fort Hood.
The move increases the overall strength of the Texas Army National Guard and brings tanks back to the Texas Guard for the first time since 2004.
According to Major Derek K. Ruschhaupt, the squadron’s executive officer, the unit will be bringing a sample of its firepower to the uncasing event.
“It will be ceremonial with various dignitaries present, but we also will have a tank and a Bradley at the plaza.”
According to the major, the new Temple unit will consist of five “troops.”
“We are a combined arms battalion, and there will be five troops in Temple,” he said. “We will have the headquarters troop, two armored tank troops, an infantry troop equipped with Bradley’s, and a sustainer troop,” he said. “The sustainer troop consists of mechanics, engineers, cooks — they keep us going.”
Ruschhaupt said 540 soldiers will report to Temple every month to conduct operations and maneuvers, and the rest of the 607 will be here full time.
“We will be based out of the Armory, but we will live throughout Temple and the immediate area,” he said. “We’re your new neighbors.”
SHRIEK FEST CONTINUES
A portion of the old steam-pipe maintenance tunnels that criss-cross downtown Temple can be accessed through The Book Cellar. The small corridor is cluttered with debris stashed over the years, but according to local lore, it’s also home to the spirit of a young murder victim named Abby.
The secret of the downtown tunnels
OUR TOWN TEMPLE
Before we dive into today’s Shriek Fest tale, I’ve got an announcement about next week’s spooktacular feature.
Starting Monday, we launch a 5-Part Serial: The Temple Doll House. The story, told by Russ Wright, is hands-down the most frightening local legend I’ve ever heard. The serial will run Monday through Friday. Each day, we will repeat the story but add a chapter. That way, if you miss a day, you still get the entire tale.
But that’s next week. Today, we focus on a story I’ve told before. But hey, how many times have we sat through “Scream?”
Here’s today’s story:
Located in a building nearly as old as Temple itself, The Book Cellar has a huge inventory of old books, collectible comics and classic sports and movie collectibles. The place is definitely full of history — more so than a glance through the inventory might reveal.
Located below street level at the intersection of Central and Main, the basement has had many lives — it’s been a bar, a hair salon, a shoe store, an attorney’s office, even a brothel, but for the last 50 years or so it has been a bookstore. And according to local paranormal investigators, it's also home to the spirit of Abby, a 7-year-old girl who was murdered in an adjoining tunnel.
The Temple tunnels are common knowledge, but no one has been inside the main system in years. They were sealed shut with concrete decades ago except for a few entry tunnels. Two of these entry tunnels can be accessed at The Book Cellar.
The tunnels ran from a boiler room at the old high school gym and were used to pipe steam-created heat to downtown businesses, said Russ Siegel, a manager at the bookstore and a member of Bluebonnet Paranormal.
The steam ran through iron pipes which, without proper maintenance, can rust. The tunnels were built to give workers access to the steam pipes for maintenance reasons.
Unfortunately, the tunnels were not always used for good. The system allowed guests of the Hawn Hotel to visit brothels and speakeasies without being seen on public streets. And, in the case of Abby’s death, they were also used to conceal heinous crimes.
Located just outside the store’s front door and behind display cases in a backroom are wooden doors that lead into tunnels that at one time accessed the main system. The front tunnel is shallow, it goes back about nine feet. But the tunnel attached to the back room goes about 60 feet before it was barricaded with concrete. In this back tunnel are children’s toys and trinkets such as a necklace.
“Those are for Abby,” Siegel said, adding that occasionally the child spirit can be heard playing. “I put the necklace on top of an old air conditioner. It’s been moved several times.”
WHAT’S HAPPENING, CENTRAL TEXAS?
October 15, Friday - Dancing music with Hyway Traveler at Bo’s Barn. 8 p.m.
October 16, Saturday — Little Joe’s 81st birthday bash. The celebration begins at 4 p.m. and the first band — Tyler Bigley & The Copano Cowboys — performs at 5. At 6 p.m., Eric Flores will be on stage, followed by David Marez. Following an hour-and-a-half set by popular crooner Bobby Pulido, Little Joe y La Familia, plus many friends, will perform at 10:30 p.m.
October 16, Saturday - Van Cliburn Recital featuring Daniel Hsu. Sue & Frank Mayborn Performing Arts Center, Belton. 7:30 p.m.
October 16, Saturday - West Temple Oktoberfest. 3 West Alehouse & Grill. 11 a.m.
October 16, Saturday - 35 South burns up the dance floor at Bo’s Barn. 9 p.m.
October 16, Saturday - St. Luke Fest 2021, raffle, petting zoo, live music, carnival games, food vendors, silent auction, bingo and more. St. Luke’s Catholic Church. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
October 16, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 16, Saturday - Trunk-or-Treat at RE/MAX Temple-Belton at the intersection of South 31st and Canyon Creek. The event will be in the parking lot behind the building. Ghoulish games, terrifying treats and bone-chilling candy. 3-6 p.m.
October 16, Saturday - Cookie Decorating. Blackmon Community Center. 10 a.m.
October 16, Saturday - Michael Salgado at Schoepf’s BBQ in Belton, 6 p.m.
October 18-23 - The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Beltonian, Belton. 6-8 p.m.
October 19, Tuesday - UMHB Opera/Musical Theatre Scenes. A College of Visual & Performing Arts presentation. Sue & Frank Mayborn Performing Arts Center, Baugh Performance Hall. 7:30 p.m.
October 22, Friday - Unity Fest on the street in front of Ras Kitchen. Featuring Alex Marley and many other acts. 4 p.m. to midnight.
October 22-24 - “Leading Ladies” at Temple Civic Theatre. Ticket link: https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?actions=4&p=1
October 23, Saturday - Don Gregory Memorial Lions Club Golf Tournament. Sammons Golf Course. Contact Jeffrey Thigpen Thigpen.email@example.com to register or for sponsorship opportunities. 4-person scramble begins at 8:30 a.m.
October 23, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 23, Saturday - Fall Food Truck Festival, 3524 FM 2484 in Salado. Proceeds benefit Salado VFD. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m..
October 26, Tuesday - Military & First Responders Appreciation Day. Drive through hamburger box dinner for active duty military, veterans and first responders. Central Fire Station in Temple. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or until food is gone.
October 26, Tuesday - The College of Visual & Performing Arts presents the UMHB Concert Choir and the Women’s Chorus. Sue & Frank Mayborn Performing Arts Center, Baugh Performance Hall. 7:30 p.m.
October 28-31 - “Leading Ladies” at Temple Civic Theatre. Ticket link: https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?actions=4&p=1
October 29, Friday - Uncasing of the Colors for the 607-member 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment of the 3rd Squadron, 36th Infantry Division, now headquartered at the Texas Army National Guard on Airport Road in Temple. Santa Fe Plaza, 10 a.m.
October 29, Friday - 1st Annual "Monster Mash Ballroom Bash" at Arthur Murray Temple. Join us for a few tricks, some yummy treats, and lots of dancing! Costumes are encouraged, and anyone is welcome — no dance experience needed, $15 per person. RSVP (254) 231-3444 7:45 p.m.
October 29, Friday - Calling all boys and ghouls! Don’t forget to stop by the Monster Mash at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum. Learn a few new dance moves at the Monster Mash prom. Grab a treat or two and have a spooktacular time. 6-8 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - The city of Temple will host Fright Fest from 6-8 p.m. at Santa Fe Plaza (301 W Avenue A). Attendees will be able to trick-or-treat, enter a costume contest and enjoy a fire dance show. This event is free to the public and registration is not required.
October 30, Saturday - Barktoberfest, Dog costume contest at 5:30; adoptable dogs on site. Barrow Brewing Co., Salado. 1-7 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Barktoberfest, Dog costume contest at 5:30; adoptable dogs on site. Barrow Brewing Co., Salado. 1-7 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Bulls & BBQ, Live bull riding followed by concert with Jake Worthington and Keith Braxton. Schoepf’s BBQ, Belton, Noon.
October 30, Saturday - Tablerock’s Fright Trail. One-half mile walking trail presents thrill, chills and haunting skits. Salado. 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - BooCru at Crusader Stadium. UMHB in Belton. Wear your Halloween costume to the UMHB v. Belhaven game. Trick or Treat at 10 locations inside the stadium during the first half. Halftime parade of costumes on the football field. Noon.
October 30, Saturday - Trunk or Treat. VFW Post 1820, 3302 Airport Road in Temple. 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in parking lot.
October 31, Sunday - Halloween! Have fun, be safe.
October 31, Sunday - Edward Scissorhands, free movie at Cultural Activities Center. In this 1990 film, a scientist builds an animated human being but dies before he can finish the assembly, leaving the young man with a freakish appearance accentuated by the scissor blades he has instead of hands. The event will include a pre and post-movie discussion with Professor Dr. Joseph Taberlet. 2 p.m.
November 4, Thursday - Spur Classic Sporting Clay Shoot, Weber Shooting Range. 8 a.m.
November 4, Thursday - Brown Bag Bingo, Sammons Community Center Bring a brown bag with a small, non-food Bingo prize inside. 5 p.m.
November 6, Saturday - Chris Hillman, Texas Music Series,Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
November 7, Sunday - Temple Symphony Piano Trio featuring Suzanne Jacobson on violin, Cory Blaise on cello and Kiyoshi Tamagawa on piano. Cultural Activities Center. 3 p.m.
November 11, Friday - The College of Visual & Performing Arts presents One Voice in concert. Sue & Frank Mayborn Performing Arts Center, Baugh Performance Hall. 7:30 p.m.
November 11-14 - "Our Town," a Pulitzer Prize winning play by Thornton Wilder, Temple High School, Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. More information at: http://www.ThespiansR.Us
November 13, Saturday - Market in the Vines. Take a walk through the vines and shop with over 50 vendors! Free to the public. 3 Texans Winery. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
November 13, Saturday - A Night in Vegas…St. Mary’s Catholic School Casino Night. Live auction, silent auction, games, drawings. Benefits the school’s educational programs. Cultural Activities Center. 6 p.m.
November 14, Sunday - St. Mary’s Traditional Turkey Dinner, KC Hall at 2218 W. Ave D, limited seating or to go plates, $12 plate includes Turkey, dressing, roll, gravy, coleslaw, green beans, cranberry sauce and dessert. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
November 18, Thursday - Taste of the Holidays 2021: A Candy Cane Christmas. Mayborn Convention Center. 10:30 a.m.
November 19 through January 15 - Facing the Inferno wildfire photo exhibit opens at Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum.
November 20 - Casey Donahew at Bell County Expo Center’s Assembly Hall.
December 3-5 — Disney’s Aladdin Jr. at Temple Civic Theatre.
December 4, Saturday - Barrow Brewing Christmas Market, Salado. Noon.
December 4, Saturday - Temple Symphony Orchestra Holiday Concert featuring soprano Priscilla Santana and tenor Brian Joyce. Temple High School. 7:30 p.m.
December 6, Monday - The 75th Annual Christmas Parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. This year's theme is “The Magic of a Traditional Christmas." Details will be made available on templeparks.com.
December 10-12 — Disney’s Aladdin Jr. at Temple Civic Theatre.
December 31 - January 1 - Texas Elite Pole Vaulting. The Expo Explosion, the second largest indoor pole vaulting event in the country. Bell County Expo Center’s Garth Arena.
December 11, Saturday — Downtown Temple Holiday Market & Food Truck Frenzy, 2 N. Main Street. 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Have an event you would like to promote? Email info to OurTownTemple@gmail.com with “What’s Happening” in the subject line. Keep it short and sweet — what, when and where. You may include a short description. You must include a phone number for verification purposes. The phone number will not be published unless requested by submitter.