Artists turn rundown buildings in Magnolia into community park

MAGNOLIA, Texas -- The Grounds 1488 co-founder Jessie Stevens said she has long dreamed of creating a community space for the creative arts. That vision is slowly coming together in Magnolia as local artists revive a cluster of run-down, graffiti-splattered buildings.

"Since I was a kid I've had this long-term vision of a place that has all the different types of creative arts," Jessie said. "I originally had this idea of having a college campus-like place where all of these people who are passionate and care about those things just doing them but within access of each other so they can build off of each other."

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Just before coronavirus-related stay-home orders were implemented this March, Jessie and a group from The Studio, a membership-based art studio she owns in Magnolia, which opened in September 2019, went to work painting murals on the neglected buildings and reviving the space, she said.

"Then all of a sudden everyone had more time on their hands than they thought they had, so [the murals] just spread because people told other people," Jessie said.

Clustered in the woods down a dirt road off FM 1488, the old buildings have not been leased in at least three years, co-founder Jeanie James said.

As the property is currently up for sale, Jessie said she and her husband, Cody Stevens, are in the process of trying to purchase the 10 acres and make it an artistic gathering and park-like space for the community. The couple plans to live on the property as well to shepherd the space, Cody said.

"We want local people to come here and enjoy it and want to come here. And we want them to tell their friends," co-founder Shona Cole said. "We're here to support [the] local community and artists."

Currently, The Grounds holds weekly artist events and is planning a fall festival Oct. 24, featuring a children's business fair, various creative arts, an art show, vendors and food trucks, Cody said. Proceeds from the event will go to further developing the space.

Cody said short-term plans include artists renting studio space in the various buildings and launching a weekend market-like event showcasing their wares. The Stevens' long-term vision for the property includes adding a coffee house and a storefront selling products made by in-house artists.

For residents, Cody said the vision also includes making the grounds into a park-like space with a playground, photo backgrounds and walk-in visits to artists' studios.

"That's what we really want it to be: a one-stop creativity shop," Jessie said.

Fall festival

  • Date: Oct. 24
  • Time: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Cost: $10 (prepaid family), $10 (individual day of event), $20 (family day of event)
  • www.thegrounds1488.com/fall-festival-oct-24
  • The Grounds 1488
  • 11512 FM 1488, Magnolia
  • thegrounds1488@gmail.com


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