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“With each piece that comes in the store, there’s a story behind it.”
From war memorabilia to a time punch clock from 1910, there is nothing predictable inside the Old Town Buda Antique Mall.
Owner Jeff Brown’s love for collecting antiques started with his great-grandfather
“He would tell me stories of being in WWI and WWII. Often times it seemed like tall tales because he would talk of riding elephants, motorcycle rides and airplane battles and things like that," said Jeff Brown, Buda Antique Mall Owner.
Much like the antiques inside the store, the three-story brick building in the heart of Buda has its own story and its rich in history.
Built in 1915 by successful businessman Will Barber, it was the only three-story building in the area.
“When I took it over it just looked like a three story storefront. If you look harder, parts of the story actually start to come alive. “
“If you look at the windows you can actually tell they’re raising box office ticket windows.”
At one time the antique mall was a movie theater.
“Upstairs there was a little door when I first took over the building, very small, about four-feet tall. It had an old handle on it with the skeleton key lock. I learned that it was the projection room door.”
It’s easy to miss, but if you take a closer look at the brick on the outside of the building you'll see a number of signatures.
“Those are from teenagers that would come to the movies here back in the 1940’s and they would leave their mark on the brick outside and they’re still there.”
Eventually the curtains closed on the movie theater and in the 1950's the building was split up into apartments.
As people have moved out, Jeff has been able to expand
“I was only basically 2100 square feet when I took this place over."
Over the years many people have dropped in to share their stories with Jeff, including one woman who said her aunt used to live in the building.
“She was telling me how her aunt used to live on the third floor and had 10 kids. She was telling me if you find any old toys on the property there were a lot of kids here. As we remodeled the upstairs we found jack and some cap guns.”
What Jeff also found is enough to give you chills.
“I did not believe in spirits or anything in the supernatural realm until I took this place over. The very first week we had a mirror that was up on top of the vanity and it had a lot of crystal vases in front of it. When I came in the next morning, it was moved in on the floor leaning up against the wall with the crystal vases still intact. Here recently we’ve had the first interaction with customers by a hat being knocked off. It was Nothing violent. They just kind of want you to know they’re here. We’ve had pictures fly out into the middle of the room, not at people again, but just kind of wanting you to know they’re here.”
All of that activity attracted the attention of “Got Haunts?” a paranormal investigations group.
“I was here with them overnight and I actually saw a chair move approximately a foot.”
On the Got Haunts website (Got Haunts? Website) you'll find a whole section dedicated to the Buda Antique mall, along with the investigators findings.
They claim that their recordings captured different voices (you can listen to them on their website).
Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, there’s one thing that is certain. This historic building carries an abundance of memories.
Jeff recognizes its significance for the land of the living and for those who have passed on.
“It’s kind of funny because every night when I go home now I’ll leave the music on for them. I’ll say you all have a good evening, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
You can watch the video version of this story here:
Buda Back in the Day Antique Mall Video
Buda Back in the Day is a monthly series that profiles stories on Buda's history. If you have an idea you would like to share please email Public Information Officer David Marino at firstname.lastname@example.org