The following message was authored by Henry Mayo, a surveyor and long-time resident of the Bryan-College Station area. As a surveyor and historian, Henry retrieves information from local, state and national resources to assemble history-themed messages for email subscribers in a series titled “This Week in Brazos County History.” To subscribe to Henry’s email series, click here.
FORMER HRDLICKA/FUGATE FAMILY HOME BURNS (Sept. 22, 1988)
The history book that chronicles the College Station Fire Department’s first 25 years (1970-95) includes the following under notable fire calls from 1988:
“September 22 — A house was totally destroyed at Luther Street and Wellborn Road. The house was near collapse from the intense fire on CSFD’s arrival.”
This home and associated businesses have a rich history. In a 1995 interview archived on the City of College Station’s Project HOLD website, Marilyn Hrdlicka Fugate said she was born in the home on Feb. 22, 1922 and that it was built around 1919 by her father, Ed Hrdlicka. It was located on the west corner of a few hundred acres of land owned by the Hrdlicka family. Marilyn and her husband, Jack Fugate, raised their own family there following World War II.
Here’s a photo of the Fugate home and their store taken on a rare, snowy day in 1972 from across the railroad track:
Here are photos I took recently that show the vacant lot where the home was and the same store buildings that are now run by Twin City Mission:
Besides this gas station, store and washateria, Jack Fugate had a printing business located at Southside in the 1950s and 1960s, then next to this home in the early 1970s. His father-in-law was known to decades of Aggies as “Uncle Ed.” Ed Hrdlicka had an infamous beer joint/dance hall at this location that’s mentioned in the song, “I’d Rather be a Texas Aggie,” and in a few Aggieland and formerly-named Longhorn yearbooks. At the right is an ad from The Eagle published in October 1940.
In the 1995 interview, Mrs. Fugate said her father was the first Gulf gasoline dealer and had the first beer license in Brazos County. I won’t go into the history of Uncle Ed Hrdlicka’s place here, but would love to hear from anyone with information and stories to share.
I don’t know when the old Hrdlicka place was replaced with the store building in the photos above, but it was probably in the mid-1960s. At the south end of the store is a taller, metal building which was a nightclub. Apparently, it was originally called the South Gate Lounge, but the ad on the bottom left from The Eagle published in October 1971 shows the name changed to the “Peanut Gallery.” The ad on the bottom right from February 1975 accompanies an article about the remodeled Peanut Gallery. I don’t know why this location was called “Old College Road” in the 1970s. The address in the 1971 ad also has “318” instead of the correct “813.”
Before I get back on track and tell more about the history of the Hdrlicka/Fugate home, I wanted to share the following item on the right from The Eagle’s entertainment section on Aug. 11, 1977, that shows Bob French playing at the Peanut Gallery, one of his two regular venues that year. Yes, this is Bob the longtime local weatherman. Lyle Lovett also was a regular entertainer at Mr. Gatti’s.
In the late 1970s, the Fugates sold their home and store, and the new owners started a restaurant named “Fish Richards Half Century House” in the old house. Later, the restaurant shortened its name to “Fish Richards.” When the home burned 25 years ago this week, I believe the restaurant had already closed. Here’s an ad from 1983:
Have a great week!
Related History Blogs:
- Solving the puzzle of A&M’s Veterans Village (Sept. 17, 2013)
- A fitting week to celebrate The Bear’s 100th birthday (Sept. 10, 2013)
- Remember when Aggie football tickets were $4? (July 30, 2013)
- Much has changed in my 50 years in BCS (June 17, 2013)
- The King ruled College Station in the summer of ’73 (June 10, 2013)
- Did Marty Robbins prefer College Station over El Paso? (June 11, 2013)
- Petition for incorporation presented to county (June 3, 2013)
- Cornerstone for Sbisa Hall installed with Masonic ceremony (May 31, 2013)
- Easterwood Field dedicated on May 22, 1941 (May 21, 2013)
- FDR gives commencement address at A&M College (May 14, 2013)
- The greatest BCS song you may have never heard (May 13, 2013)
- Paddle strike at Aggieland/Terracing jumps into spotlight (April 8, 2013)
- Petition for incorporating College Station begins circulating (March 27, 2013)
- Think getting around College Station is tough now? (Jan. 16, 2013)