Thursday, June 10, 2010

From Church To Home To Museum

This building was built in 1910 as the First Baptist Church of Canadian, Texas. In 1955 the Baptists sold it to the Church of Christ which occupied it until the late 1970's. When plans were made to demolish the building to make way for something new, it was purchased by Dr. and Mrs. Malouf Abraham who remodeled the structure into their unique dream home. They raised their 3 sons there and assembled an outstanding personal art collection.

A couple of years ago, they decided to establish a foundation and give the Mansion to the public in order to share their collection and their home. We visited the Citadelle last Sunday with El Jefe's cousins, Robin and Mary.

The Mansion tour was just as unique as the building and grounds. Malouf and Theresa had recorded the tour personally and gave many interesting family anecdotes.

My favorite one involves the 14 paintings of the Stations of The Cross. Malouf was in an antique shop in Salt Lake City and spotted two of the paintings. Being a devout Catholic, he asked the proprietor if he had the other 12 paintings that should go with it. The guy rummaged around in back and produced them. He said the paintings had been brought back from Germany after WWII by an American GI.

Malouf then hired a French cabinetmaker to design something to display them with around the wall of the old choir balcony. The cabinetmaker came back to him saying that it was too difficult to work out something for 14 paintings and why not just display 12 in that location, putting the other 2 elsewhere.

Malouf says he told him: "You lapsed Catholic! Atheist! They must all go together." And go together they did. I don't know about you, but I think I would have found it difficult to enjoy my living room with the 14 stations of the cross looking down on me from the balcony! But the Abrahams loved it.

The website I linked to above is really outstanding and includes pages with pictures of the art collection and the beautiful gardens. The new gallery that has been built is where the Mary Cassat exhibit is and it will house future traveling art exhibits.

Truly the Citadelle is the jewel of the Texas Panhandle. The Abraham family immigrated from Lebanon to Texas. Malouf's grandparents ran a general store and bought land in the area. Oil and gas finds on that land provided the family's fortune. Malouf and Theresa's sons and grandchildren still live in Canadian, while they have retired to NYC and Florida after donating the Mansion and grounds to the Citadelle.


Robin said...

Very cool. And what a gorgeous building.

Presbyterian Gal said...

I can see why rich folks are drawn to collecting art. With enough disposable income it would be, for me, like eating potato chips.