For our new Leander friends, here is an interesting reference to our classic bar top at
Maggie Mae’s Old Town Pub, the side gate to the Hill Country, as we begin a new chapter in
bringing the historic feel of Maggie Mae’s to you.
One of the more interesting features of Maggie Mae’s Old Town Pub is our bar top.
It’s maple wood that is well over 80 years of age. It came out of a building that was originally an
army barracks. Then in a more peaceful time, it became a skating rink. Hence the maple wood
that became the floor of the skating rink. After the skating rink closed its doors, a rag-tag group
of Austin Bohemians, i.e., hippies, opened the Armadillo World Headquarters. The building was
located at 505 Barton Springs Road where the City of Austin currently houses various operating
functions of the Planning Review and Permit Departments.
Countless musicians walked that floor. Springsteen, Kristofferson, Zappa, Willie, Ray
Charles, Jerry Jeff, The Police, The Clash, AC/DC, Jerry Garcia, and numerous others.
Armadillo World Headquarters was their springboard to stellar fame. Eddie Wilson is a good
friend to me and to Austin and was the prime mover of the Armadillo. His vision created the
AWHQ phenomenon. His vision also made Austin the Live Music Capital of the World. Great
things oftentimes had humble and frustrating beginnings, and Eddie started it and agonized
over all of it. To my knowledge, Eddie Wilson is largely unacknowledged in his singular
contribution to Austin’s renowned musical heritage.
Let it be known where and with whom it all started.
The AWHQ closed its doors in 1980. The wrecking ball took it in 1981. Eddie went on to
develop Threadgill’s, the Austin shrine to great down-home cooking, and to Janis Joplin. His two
restaurants are an additional tribute to his hard work and insight. Sadly, those restaurants have
gone the way of exorbitant property taxes and Austin’s desire to build bigger.
Back to the bar top. Some years ago, my cousin M.K. Hage told me he had
the maple flooring in a warehouse and asked if I would like to have it (M.K. owned the
armory/skating rink/AWHQ building). I said sure and it moved from his warehouse to mine and
remained there for years. It seemed that it would make an attractive and durable bar top for
Maggie Mae’s Old Town Pub so that’s what you’re drinking on. And now, after this walk down
memory lane, it makes quite a conversation piece also.
And back to Janis Joplin, there is a story about her proposed Walk of Fame marker that
was intended to be installed on Sixth Street in front of Maggie Mae’s Downtown. Eddie and I
disagreed on that particular location and our ‘encounter’ made it into the pages of Texas Monthly
magazine. I’ll dig up that story for a future piece. Once I locate the Texas Monthly article. In the
meantime, come see the bar top with a real Texas heritage.