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Downtown Brownwood Offers More Than Meets the Eyes to Prospective Tenants

Written by Ben Cox – With a new focus emerging on downtown Brownwood, and buildings full of character and opportunity, the possibilities of living and working in the downtown area are expanding. From business owners, property owners and tenants, a common theme emerges: It’s cool to live and work downtown.

The buildings occupying the downtown area are full of history and stories going back to before Camp Bowie existed and Gordon Wood had even heard of Brownwood. From houses of ill repute, stores that became homes then stores and back again, and even betting establishments, the history of Downtown is full of color and life. 

The buildings are owned by a variety of people, from folks who live in the buildings themselves and run businesses to those who live elsewhere and invest their efforts in maintaining the character of Brownwood as a business. Steven McCrane is one such property owner, who got started buying in the area for a unique reason.

Harpers Food Store and Hotel occupied this building once upon a time, the Harper House can still be seen at the top of the facade


“The original Harpers Food Store and Hotel was important to me because everything else was getting torn down, and it was important to get it back into Lori’s family.” The building is now occupied by Nathana’s and Flour Power Bakery on the ground floor, with loft apartments above.

The idea of loft apartments came to McCrane after living in Galveston and seeing the historic buildings that had been converted into lofts. Those homes sparked an interest that has not gone away, urging him to begin investing, which he continues to do to this day, as he is currently restoring the antique home on Main, across from the HPU campus. 

Another set of property owners are Don and Debbie Morelock, who have taken downtown living in a different direction. Offering small living spaces for the traveling business person, as well as the garden variety renter. The Morelocks own the colorful properties that have sprung up by the Austin Avenue overpass, as well as a few hidden gems in downtown proper.

The latest of the Morelock’s rentals near the Austin Avenue overpass


Don Morelock says he and his wife were inspired to begin buying property in the downtown area after touring several of the homes and realizing how much the buildings had to offer. “We had no idea there were as many living spaces there, and that’s what got us interested in downtown.” 

Morelock says older homes have something that just isn’t offered much any more. “When you buy older historical buildings you get character. You can’t get that any more, it’s too cost prohibitive.”

Morelock and McCrane have history that has crossed paths in downtown property, as well. McCrane currently manages an apartment that was once a business space, which Morelock’s wife Debbie occupied for a time. “Debbie had Country Fruit, Baskets and Gifts downstairs, and a few years later had the Sunshine Tea Room upstairs.”

Another group of downtown investors, Steve Harris and Steve Puckett, the owners of Steve’s Market and Deli on Chandler Street bought their building around 20 years ago.


Interior shot of Steve’s Market and Deli on Chandler St, the building has been home to various business over the years

The pair have seen interest in the downtown Brownwood area ebb and flow, but have a feeling about the current resurgence in downtown investment and interest. Harris says “This movement that I’ve noticed seems to have a lot more legs to it, so we’re more hopeful this go round.” 

Harris, who is originally from Brownwood, grew up in Waxahachie and loving the historic downtown area of that town. He says both he and Puckett are “big cheerleaders of downtown, and living and tourism.” 

Harris says the buildings in Brownwood are ideal for business use as well as living spaces. “As far as downtown and loft living goes, these buildings are gems.”

There are other rental spaces and property owners who offer many kinds of living and working arrangements, as well as buildings for sale. It can only be hoped that the future holds prosperity and revitalization in the hidden gems that make up downtown Brownwood and make it feel, truly, like home.

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