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Park Life: Tuleta’s Park Hotel offers more than just history
by Paul Gonzales
Dec 26, 2012 | 2303 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Paul Gonzales photo.The Park Hotel Antique Shop is located at 8937 North Hwy 181 in Tuleta and is open Saturdays  from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Paul Gonzales photo.The Park Hotel Antique Shop is located at 8937 North Hwy 181 in Tuleta and is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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One of two porcelain dolls that sits and waits for a good home. The dolls are on consignment from the Beeville Vineyard with no money taken for commission from the sale of the dolls.
One of two porcelain dolls that sits and waits for a good home. The dolls are on consignment from the Beeville Vineyard with no money taken for commission from the sale of the dolls.
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Kerosine and electric chandeliers hang near a window amongst the vintage, pristine furniture and other unique antiques and vintage dresses for children, dolls and women.
Kerosine and electric chandeliers hang near a window amongst the vintage, pristine furniture and other unique antiques and vintage dresses for children, dolls and women.
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Above is the view one would see as they walk into the antique store of the Park Hotel on any given Saturday — the only day it is open. Make sure you set aside some time, as browsing all the items may take longer than you think. The Park Hotel and Antique Shop is located at 8937 N. Hwy. 181 in Tuleta.
Above is the view one would see as they walk into the antique store of the Park Hotel on any given Saturday — the only day it is open. Make sure you set aside some time, as browsing all the items may take longer than you think. The Park Hotel and Antique Shop is located at 8937 N. Hwy. 181 in Tuleta.
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Driving north on Highway 181, past Normanna and just past the Tuleta Post Office, take a look to your left.

You’ll see a huge yellow sign with an arrow tucked gently among the foliage that reads “Open Saturdays.”

Turn in onto the dirt driveway and follow it down through the old oak trees, and you’ll come across something.

There’s a two-story hotel from 1910.

And this is where Elizabeth Villines and her husband call home.

Villines explained, “Back in the early 1900s, there was a road and a railroad that ran through Tuleta.

“And it was my understanding that there were mineral baths at Mineral City, and people would come from places like Kansas and North Dakota, and they would come to Tuleta for the baths.

“But they would come in the winter, because it was very cold up north where they were, and leave in the summer, because it gets a bit toasty in the summer in Bee County.”

The original owner, of the hotel, R.M.C. Nelson from Minnesota who built the place, used sand from the Medio Creek and caliche to form the stones used to construct the 5,200-square-foot structure.

Though it may seem a rare find in such a tiny town such as Tuleta, the treasures actually lie within.

“Collecting antiques is in our blood. My mother had a vast collection, and when she passed away she left those to us, and it was just kind of natural that we should pick up and start a business.

“She never had a business, but she loved antiques.

“So we had a body of articles when we decided to open.

“We started in one room on the ground floor, and that was our antique shop, then, gradually, we kept moving and taking another room, then another room,” Villines said with a smile.

“We buy from individuals; we go to auctions; we go to estate sales, and sometimes we go to garage sales.

“Some people bring us things they wish to sell.

“We have a few consignment items, but those are kind of sparse, because we don’t have much room,” Villines laughed.

“Every inch is almost taken.

“But when we can, we’ll take a consignment item if it’s small.”

And there’s more to shopping for cool and rare items.

It’s the building itself that makes it a little more than antique hunting.

“We call this a historic shopping experience. You’re in a historic building that has great significance for this area and we’ve tried to select items that appeal to every age group and we try to showcase them also.

“You can get a sense of place here.

“Not only with the building or the little town of Tuleta, but also from the items.

“Every one of them has a story.”

With so many items sprawled throughout the store, it’s hard to talk about them all.

But, as soon as you walk into the hotel, you’ll see a small leather saddle.

But it’s not just any saddle, it’s a Japanese officer’s saddle from World War II.

It’s a strange, yet unique item that somehow managed to find it’s way all the down here in South Texas.

Another item that caught the eye was a vintage slot machine for kids with the words “Penny Pack” on it.

It’s a small metal working slot machine and takes pennies, but the images on the spinner are of old cigarette brands such as Lucky Strike, Chesterfield and Camel.

You don’t actually win packs of cigarettes, just a gumball, but it’s interesting to see how much the views of smoking have changed.

The rooms are also stocked with old solid wood furniture from the 1900s. Most of it is in great condition and perfect for collectors and enthusiasts alike.

And in the far room sit two porcelain dolls with beautifully designed clothing that the Beeville Vineyard actually has at the shop on consignment.

“When they sell, the money goes to the Vineyard (which provides food, clothing and some monetary assistance to the community’s needy). I don’t take commission out for them.”

And with the delicate style of the two dolls and their beautiful design, it’s a wonder the pieces are still there.

There’s a room filled with both new and classic clothes and dresses.

There are yards and pieces of unique fabric all over the shop.

There’s a rack of historic newspapers, still in incredible shape, with famous headlines.

“U.S.A. IN WAR! JAPS RAID U.S. BASES!” printed right after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“ALLIED TROOPS LAND IN FRANCE!” is another. They are great pieces to be framed.

There are kerosene chandeliers and lamps of all shapes and sizes, along with jewelry, thousands of buttons and a large collections of pocket watches from all over.

Every nook and cranny of the Park Hotel Antique Shop is filled with items sure to catch your eye and imagination.

But don’t go in there in a hurry.

With shelves lined with items and glass cases filled with anything you could and couldn’t think of, you’ll need to take your time in order to soak it all in.

And what better gifts to give this holiday season than the ones that have lasted a lifetime.

The Park Hotel Antique Shop is located at 8937 N. Hwy. 181 in Tuleta and is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.
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