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Power City: Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum finishes construction, celebrates new exhibit

Grants totaling more than $300,000 covered new new wood siding, heating and A/C upgrades and windows.

BEAUMONT, Texas — Hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money helped Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown renovate and restore their museum on the campus of Lamar University.

Construction lasted for most of the winter and spring as workers repaired exterior damage and ordered new HVAC equipment to 'climate control' buildings.

The museum is a re-creation of what Beaumont was like in 1901 after the Lucas Gusher and discovery of oil at Spindletop.

“[Beaumont] went from 9,000 to 50,00 people almost overnight," Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum Director Troy Gray said. Housing was at a premium. 

“In the barber shop behind me, they cut hair, but that's also where people slept because there was no room anywhere," Gray said. "And they pulled teeth  at the barber, too, because there was no dentist."

Gray says the museum, constructed in 1976, had started showing its age.

“You know, for 45 years, other than fixings after the storms, there really hasn't been a re-siding done on our [wooden] buildings," Gray said.

Gray turned to organizations, including the the Mamie McFaddin Ward Foundation and the Foundation for Southeast Texas, for grants. Others began to pitch in as well. 

“We got one from the Spindletop Rotary," Gary said. "We got one from the YMBL, all to help us fix in our buildings."

The grants totaled more than $300,000 covered the cost of new wood siding, heating and A/C upgrades and windows.

“One building we had to, because of the termite damage, we had to rebuild from scratch,” someone said. That building will be come a new exhibit: Cawley's: From Machining to Automation.

“Steam engines were something that, you know, were used in a variety of applications awhile back before we had the modern technology," Jason Blake said. 

Blake works for Sage Automation and helped with the new exhibit which honors the legacy of the company's co-founder.

“This is actually going to be a really nice exhibit that shows his interest and his hobbies and a little bit of his legacy and his interest in steam engines and his legacy he left at sage automation,” Blake said.

Gray hopes the upgrades bring in more visitors, so that new generations can learn about power city's past.

"People are really surprised at  just what happened back then, and the kinds of people who came” Gray said.

The opening of the new exhibit will be followed by a Gusher on Saturday, June 11, 2022 at 10 a.m.

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