Texarkana, U.S.A. – Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Museums board: Interest, funds needed to maintain home lacking
By: Aaron Brand
The Draughon-Moore Ace of Clubs House downtown is one of Texarkana’s most prominent landmarks, but its future is now anything but steady.
The Texarkana Museums System Board of Directors voted to stop operations of the Ace of Clubs as of Jan. 1 and put the house back in the hands of the Moore family, who donated the historic property to TMS for use as a museum.
On Monday, Ed Black, TMS board president, said a letter will be sent to the Moore family to notify them about this decision.
He said this wouldn’t happen if TMS was given clear title to the property and the Moores indicate the home can be used for something other than a museum.
“On the legal document we’re working under right now, we can’t do that,” Black said.
Operating costs and repair expenses are hurdles the TMS faces in maintaining the house, an Italianate home built in the shape of a club in 1885. Steve Rambo, TMS executive director, previously said more than $100,000 is needed to cover repairs to the home, such as fixing water seepage, broken windows and peeling paint. The museum has also been hit with declines in funding, public support and attendance.
“We didn’t want to give it up, but we don’t have any other options under the circumstances,” Black said. “If we’re good stewards of the Museums System’s money and don’t want to do a disservice to the community, then something else needs to happen differently to the Ace of Clubs House than what’s currently going on.”
He said current restrictions, which necessitate that TMS only operate the home as a museum, mean operating costs cannot be met and repairs cannot be done.
Black said other options for Ace of Clubs House could bring in revenue, such as hosting weddings or renting a floor for retail space or use as a bed and breakfast.
“There’s a number of possibilities,” he said.
Black said that a Thursday board meeting last week failed to reach a quorum, but that he distributed this proposal for voting via email. Over the weekend, Black said a simple majority was reached in favor.
“The last thing we want to do is get rid of it, but it’s getting down to the point where we don’t have an option,” Black said.
Rambo said as of Jan. 1, TMS would request the Moore family take over utilities on the Ace of Clubs. And he said TMS would no longer be able to do yard maintenance and property upkeep. He says a couple of TMS workers would likely be affected.
Rambo has not been approached by community members about the Ace of Clubs since these problems first arose publicly a little more than a week ago.
“I can’t speak for the other board members, but I haven’t been approached by anybody,” Rambo said.
He believes this speaks to the lack of support for the Ace of Clubs compared to a decade ago. He said closing the Ace of Clubs will certainly be one less attraction for out-of-town visitors.
“But at the same time, I think the board made the correct decision financially,” Rambo said.
Asked whether the board has the legal right to return the home to the Moore family, Black said, “That part I don’t know, honestly.”
But he said TMS was advised it should take this step as a courtesy to the family.
If the Moores do not want the Ace of Clubs back, Black said, TMS could go to court to see if a judge can rule in favor of TMS’ taking the house with a clear title and without the museum usage restrictions.
Black said they hope someone can operate the house to bring it back to a well-maintained and attractive condition.
Henry Moore III, a local member of the Moore family, declined to comment for this story.
The Ace of Clubs House is at 420 Pine St. in Texarkana, Texas. The property has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.