Several Howard Payne University buildings will be highlighted during this year’s “Past, Present and Future” tour hosted by Downtown Brownwood, Inc., on Tuesday, December 10, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. This annual tour of historical downtown buildings allows participants to appreciate the rich history that Brownwood has to offer.
Tour stops include the Walker House, Mims Auditorium, and the Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center with Grace Chapel.
The Walker House is the home of Drs. Bill and Diana Ellis, HPU president and first lady.
“Christmas is such a special time on our campus,” said Dr. Diana Ellis. “I am delighted that we have this opportunity for the community to tour our beautifully restored and new buildings. I am particularly pleased to share the HPU President’s Home which is fully decorated for the holidays.”
The Walker House, a three-story, Colonial Revival home, was built in 1901 as the residence of John Allen and Elizabeth Peacock Walker. Mr. Walker was a longtime member of Howard Payne University’s Board of Trustees, as well as a prominent Brownwood businessman and civic leader. The Walkers were major benefactors of HPU and other Baptist educational institutions; HPU’s Walker Memorial Library was named for the couple in recognition of their support. HPU purchased the home in 1987 as the official residence of the university’s president. More than a century after its construction, the Walker House continues to provide a warm, distinctive experience to residents and guests alike, honoring the home’s character, proud history and ongoing place in the HPU experience.
The oldest original HPU building on the university’s main campus, Mims Auditorium was built in the early 1920s and was the focus of a major renovation, completed in 2010. Among many projects, great care was taken to restore the original woodwork, staircases and other architectural features of this great landmark, including appropriate floor and window coverings to complement the interior and serve the acoustical needs of the auditorium. This project was made possible by a historic gift – the largest in HPU history – from the late Mrs. Leona Muse. Throughout its existence, the building has provided a setting for chapel services, fine arts performances, recitals, concerts and theatrical productions.
The Faith and Life Leadership Center, dedicated in 2010, was named in recognition of the lead gift from the Paul and Jane Meyer Family Foundation of Waco. The project comprised a major renovation of the Bible building and the university chapel. Of special note within the FLLC are the Richard and Wanda Jackson Conference Room, made possible by a generous gift from the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation of Houston, and the beautiful two-story entrance hall with funding provided by Walter C. “Dub” and Debra Wilson of Houston. The area features a sculpture donated by the Wilson siblings and spouses, titled “The Lord Himself Will Provide,” depicting Abraham, Isaac and the angel.
Grace Chapel features hand-crafted stained-glass windows as well as enhancements such as chandeliers, improved seating and other furnishings and renovations. Dr. and Mrs. Burton Patterson of Southlake donated a new organ to be placed in the chapel, in addition to organs donated for Mims Auditorium and the choir hall. The chapel is named in honor of the faithful support of Dr. E. Grace Pilot of Mobile, Ala. Dr. Pilot received the Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from HPU in 1994; an honorary doctorate is the highest honor the university can bestow.
The self-guided tour begins at 5:30 p.m. at any of the above tour stops, all of which are located on Center Avenue. Light refreshments will be served at the Faith and Life Leadership Center.
Tickets are $8 each and available in advance at the radio station KOXE, located at 300 Carnegie; the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce office, located at 600 E. Depot; or at any of the tour stops on the night of the tour. Parking is available across from the Walker House or Mims Auditorium.
For more information, contact Martha Faetche at the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce at (325) 646-9535.