Bouldin Hall: Visited August 11, 2019

Bouldin Hall is located at 13020 Hwy 90 West, in Harwood. It is no longer used as a dance hall, but houses On Track Arts. Our friend Erik McCowan told us about this little gem and suggested we visit on our way home from Lindenau Rifle Club.

Hal Shipley was behind the counter when we walked in and he kindly offered to open the stairway door so we could see the “leaky roof dancehall.” Before we were through, his wife, Jan Meeks, showed up and between the two of them we learned a great deal about the halls history.

Jan gave me a booklet Harwood Texas 1874-1986 which had a wealth of historical information on the town. I found a few nuggets of information on the dance hall. The pressed tin walls of the building originally housed a confectionary in 1824. The building at the time was owned by L.R. Bouldin. They expanded to include hardware and plumbing as well as a gas station. His brother, Ned, assisted in the store.

Nineteen steps lead you up the the dance floor. The pressed tin was originally blue, but sometime during the buildings history, it was painted red, though the stairway still maintains the blue color. The window in the side of the building was the original ticket window to get into the dance.

Jan and Hal, both artists, purchased the building in 2001 and the antique portion of their business slowly took over the storage space on the massive dance floor. They try to have unique items in their store, from pristine square dance skirts, musical instruments, records, shot glasses with scorpions, and much more. You could spend a whole afternoon looking at items. If you go, tell them David and Tracy sent you.

Hurricane Harvey took off part of the roof.

The heavy wood beams still supports the ceiling.

The veranda upstairs offers a view and a welcome breeze.

Even though the temperature was hot, we danced on the veranda.

According to stories told to Hal and Jan, kids used to roller skate on the long leaf pine floors. The building has been a fancy candy store; dry goods and soda shop; had pool tables for kids; and was a dance hall. Depending on whether you believe the stories, Bob Wills may (or may not) have played here. Bonnie (of Bonnie and Clyde fame) has family in Gonzales so the bullet hole in the wall may (or may not) have been associated with them. One of Mr. Bouldin’s children visited the new owners, when she was in her 80’s. She said she was never allowed upstairs in the dance hall – it wasn’t a family sort of place. There were”ladies of the night” that were working there. Jan led her upstairs so she could finally see the hall.

Currently, the third Saturday of every month at 6 p.m. the community center, just behind the dance hall, holds a covered dish music fest. Musicians from Kerrville, Austin and places between and beyond come play. You might hear bluegrass, country or jazz. Bring a dish, shop at On Track Arts, listen to music and soak in history in Harwood.

Thank you Hal and Jan for letting us up on the dance floor and filling us with local history. Hope to see you again!

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