Heritage, Volume 10, Number 3, Summer 1992 Page: 10
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mittee members were troubled by a lack of
control of the surrounding property as well
as the uncertain future of the area in general.
Meanwhile Frank Murray became the
first paid staff for the Preservation League
and continued the crusade to develop the
Grace. He and A.P.L. volunteers targeted
community leaders and met with each individually.
A solution to the major concerns
of the museum's advisory committee was
solved in one step. The decision was made
to purchase one-half of the city block that
included the Grace, two office buildings, a
parking lot, and one gutted building serving
as a parking garage.
Additional community support developed
for the project as the concept expanded
to include a children's museum and an
historical museum. The Junior League
adopted the children's museum as a longterm
project and an history museum committee
was activated. These activities
complemented the Museum's goals of
providing cultural and educational programming
for the community.
On the recommendation of the ad hoc
review committee, the Museum board decided
to participate in the renovation of the
Grace by raising the funds to endow and
operate the multi-museum facility. A.P.L.
in turn would raise the money to purchase
and renovate the old hotel. In the fall of
1986, A.P.L. bought the Grace and adjoining
property with a local source providing the
$400,000 for the purchase. A new commitment
to the future of Abilene had begun.
A.P.L. launched an effort to solicit
foundation grant funds. Requests were
prepared and sent to foundations
throughout the state and nation. Each request
was politely yet flatly refused. A.P.L.
did not give up but asked why grant requests
had been rejected. Dr. Sally Lancaster,
executive director of the Meadows Foundation
in Dallas, visited Abilene and advised
the ambitious groups of four issues.
First, there were no architectural plans.
Second, the membership of both organizations
was low. One percent of the
community's population was necessary to
show community support. Dr. Lancaster
suggested that the two organizations combine
fundraising efforts rather than divide
the task, and lastly, she advised that local
financial support would be essential before
being considered for a grant.
Plans began immediately to attack all
four issues. Both A.P.L. and the Museum
conducted membership drives that ex
The restoration of the Grace Hotel returned the former elegance of the building's lobby. Photo provided
courtesy of the Abilene Reporter-News.
ceeded the one percent population goal
three fold. The name of the Abilene Fine
Arts Museum was changed to Museums of
Abilene to reflect the multiple nature of
the organization. The planned facility was
named the Grace Cultural Center, and a
two-year publicity campaign began. The
A.P.L. successfully solicited local funds to
develop architectural plans. Local architects
donated and constructed a model of the
An advisory committee of representatives
from A.P.L., Museums of Abilene,
the Junior League, and other interested
organizations was created to plan and
implement the project. Chaired by local
certified public accountant Jerry Love, the
committee met regularly for four years.
Numerous task-oriented subcommittees
Two blocks from the Grace, the 1930
Paramount Theater was undergoing major
10 HERITAGE * SUMMER 1992
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 10, Number 3, Summer 1992, periodical, Summer 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45419/m1/10/: accessed November 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.