In Johnson City, no more mid-century furniture, make way for vintage motorcycles
If you’ve been passing through Johnson City on US 290 for the past few weeks, you may have noticed a change at the corner of Main and Nugent streets. Echo, Johnson City’s whimsical art gallery and purveyor of mid-century modern furniture, is no longer there, having moved to Blanco.
Since 2016, Echo has thrived in the historic Cox Brothers Ford building. But last year, Linda Haddock, co-owner of Echo and former owner of the building, sold the property to Gordon Massie, a motorcycle enthusiast from the Woodlands. Now, the 1930s art deco building that opened as a Model A Ford dealership is returning to its vehicular roots: the 6,500-square-foot space is the future home of the Texas Vintage Motorcycle Museumscheduled to open this spring.
In his six years on this corner, echo gallery has become a community staple and a regular stop for travelers along the 290. But Haddock, who co-runs the establishment with her business partner and husband, John Sone, sees the move to Blanco as an opportunity to put highlight the artistic world of Blanco.
“One of our goals is to help stimulate Blanco’s emerging art scene,” Haddock says. “It’s such a beautiful city. People don’t know it, but it’s home to some amazing but under-the-radar artists and musicians. Blanco is on the verge of having a very strong artistic community.
Haddock says that while she now considers herself semi-retired, Echo remains her art form. “I’m the curator, and this is my large-scale fluid art installation with art and furniture constantly moving in and out. I have quirky, quirky tastes and have always loved mid-century modern design.
Haddock also has an eye for local talent. the reopening party scheduled for February 24 will feature the brilliant and intuitive work of Texas-based painter Wilma Schindeler.
The mid-century ranch house and adjacent tin barn that will be Echo’s new home provide a new canvas for Haddock and Some. They will host Sleepless night, or White Night, a gallery night open late on the third Thursday. They will also now have room to showcase an enlarged photo Haddock took in the 1970s of artist Alexander Calder while painting the exterior of a DC-8 jet plane for Braniff, the company high-profile airline where Haddock worked as a flight attendant before it closed. in 1982. Models posing around Echo dressed in funky ’70s clothing wear Braniff uniforms designed by Haddock Emilio Pucci.
Echo Blanco will see the return of the Scavenger Hunt, a kid-friendly diversion Haddock created to keep youngsters occupied while parents browse Echo’s eclectic merchandise. “We welcome kids,” says Haddock, who worked as a child behavior specialist after her time at Braniff. “I go down and look them in the eye and let them know my two rules. You can touch everything with your eyes, then you must tell us what you prefer before leaving.
Meanwhile, back in Johnson City, Gordon Massie is preparing the Ford building to show off another form of eye candy: motorcycles from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Massie, who retired from a career in finance, has been a collector since he owned his first motorcycle at the age of 12. He plans to display 67 of his motorcycles at the museum. As a sign of the building’s history, he is installing antique gas pumps in front of the museum and will showcase the hydraulic lift once used for the Model A’s sold there.
Massie also plans to open a pedestrian space around the museum to make it an easy draw for visitors walking from Johnson City’s breweries and restaurants. With the Hill Country being biker country, the project will include a bike-centric shop and event space with billiards, lawn games and a big-screen TV to show off motorcycle clips, and maybe even a projection of Easy Rider.
“It’s a new space and an interesting building, and it’s close to the city park,” says Massie, who will charge a $5 admission fee to the museum. “Johnson City is unique in the Hill Country in that it hasn’t seen the rapid growth of some other towns. It’s a throwback to 50 years ago, and I want to try to preserve that.
Echo to Blanco: 1725 US 281 South, Blanco; echoinblanco.com
Vintage Motorcycle Museum: 100 N. Nugent Ave., Johnson City; texasvintagemotorcyclemuseum.com