Canadian was a big surprise. Nicknamed “Oasis of the Panhandle”, this town is as perfect as a town can get. Texas photographer Barclay Gibson said about it, “Everything was neat and well-kept.” True. But what drew Ruth and me to this northeast Panhandle town was an unusual attraction, The Citadelle. Many visitors to it claim, “We’ve never seen anything like this before.” I’m one of them.
Now an 8,000 square feet mansion covering one city block, The Citadelle began its existence as a Baptist church in 1910. By the 1970s it was an abandoned building destined for demolition when Dr. Malouf Abraham, a noted allergist, bought it for $15,000 and turned it into a private residence like no other. The baptistery is now a planter. My first look at the vast living room, once the heart of a church, made me gasp. In 2007 The Abrahams backed a $5 million project to turn their home into a public art gallery with groomed gardens, many antiques, and 135 works of European and American art including Dr. Malouf’s first purchase, Norman Rockwell’s “First Day of School”. The Abrahams and their 3 sons have stayed in Canadian and enriched the town in many ways. Ruth and I just missed meeting Dr. Malouf, who remains active in this project.
Visitors see vast, open rooms often lit by sunlight, stained glass windows, ironwork from Sylvester Stallone, etc. My favorite space was the choir loft overlooking the multi-faceted living room. Check The Citadelle’s hours of operation before you show up because they tend to be rather short, and it’s only opened from Thursday to Sunday.
Take time to explore Canadian. The Palace Theatre, a small town movie palace, has been recently redone. It is said to be the only Panhandle theater with a George Lucas THX sound system. Just up the street from it is a soda fountain. At the intersection below it is Cattle Exchange, a restaurant in an interesting building where Ruth & enjoyed a fine meal.