Social Eyes by Faye Reeder

Extraordinary gift to Keller Women’s Club Foundation promises to benefit many

Don and Linda Bowden at the topping-out party.
Don and Linda Bowden at the topping-out party. Patty Recca

For many years, Linda Bowden had lamented the scarcity of places in Keller to hold special events. As a former president and extremely active member of the Keller Women’s Club, she dreamed of someday having a hometown venue for the organization’s annual fundraiser and other community events.

Bowden will now see that dream come true through a generous donation she and husband, Don Bowden, presented to the Keller Women’s Club Foundation. The Bowdens purchased 11 acres at 1747 Keller Parkway where they are building a 37,000-square-foot facility that they have gifted to the foundation. The total cost of the project, including land and buildings, is around $20 million.

“We are so blessed because of the extraordinary generosity of the Bowdens,” foundation President Janna Clarke said. “It will offer the opportunity for the community to use the facility for a variety of uses. Civic groups, school groups — in addition to those using the chapel — will benefit the community at large. Keller has not had this type of resource before.”

Set to open around July 1, the center will feature two structures —– a 29,000-square-foot event center and an 8,000-square-foot chapel situated on a beautiful wooded site.

On a tour of the facility, Cadence McShane Construction superintendent Brett Pedersen pointed out the Douglas fir trusses on the chapel ceiling that will be surrounded by fir planks to create a spectacular all-wood cathedral ceiling. The main chapel entryway is flanked by a large bride’s room and a groom’s room. Glass on the front and along one side of the chapel will provide a view of the many trees shading the surrounding land. A meandering covered path will connect the chapel to the main event center.

A dozen wood trusses similar to those in the chapel are spaced across the impressive entrance to the event center (think ski lodge feeling) where the main room will seat 563 people. Capable of being divided into thirds, the great room overlooks a spacious patio that will provide additional meeting space.

A large, fully equipped kitchen will serve the facility needs for catering, and rooms adjacent to the great room will provide smaller meeting space for groups of 75 to 150 people. A generous portion of the structure with a separate entrance will become office and work space for the Keller Women’s Club.

Plans call for various stones, wood, stucco and cast stone to create a beautiful building exterior with eye-catching arched features in several places and handsome efis trim topping off each section of the structures. A standing seam metal roof will be installed on both buildings. “The Bowdens have really gone all out on this project,” Pedersen said adding that “everything is just first class.”

At a topping-out ceremony in the fall, club members gathered to celebrate and symbolically mark progress in the construction of the facility, to be called the Bowden Event Center.

“The construction company did a great job of preparing a special beam for all of the women’s club members to sign. And it was a thrill to then watch the beam as it was lifted so high to be placed on the building,” Bowden said.

Clarke said that revenue from operating the center is difficult to predict this early but the hope is that the new business venture will enable the foundation to substantially increase philanthropic giving.

A manager has been hired to run the event center, and Bowden is working closely with an interior-decorating team to make the inside space complement the architecture. Among artwork chosen so far are the paintings of longtime women’s club member Kathryn Hosner, who died in December.

Having twice chaired earlier annual fundraising style show and luncheon events for the Keller Women’s Club, Bowden says she is excited that the Garden of Roses Fashion show coming up on April 1 will be the last year a venue outside of Keller will be necessary.

According to Bowden, the center already has a 16th birthday party scheduled for the fall as well as two weddings that have preliminary reservations. “We hope schools, Rotary, Lions and all sorts of groups will come use the building. Keller really doesn’t have any place to meet, so this will fill the needs of so many.”

The Bowdens did research on similar facilities in the area before embarking on a final design plan, visiting a dozen other event centers including the Ruthe Jackson Center in Grand Prairie. She said advice from the Grand Prairie facility manager was particularly helpful.

“Building this center has been a much bigger project that I ever thought it would be,” Bowden said with a laugh. “But we’re glad we did this because we want the citizens of Keller to have a place to go and because we are interested in giving back. If it happens to make money, that will be nice, but that was not our first concern.”

Needlepoint exhibit adds estate, antiques sale to raise money for Historic Fort Worth

Any excuse to visit Fort Worth’s beautiful Thistle Hill mansion is reason enough to go, but the events set for Feb. 22-26 will also be a draw for those who love textile arts and antiques.

The Needlepoint Love Story event hosted by the folks at Historic Fort Worth is back for a fourth year and will expand this time to include a brand new event, the Thistle Hill Great Estate and Antique Sale.

“How many events can you attend that have the best of both worlds?” said organization spokeswoman Suzy Coleman.

Needlepoint lovers will see the heirloom works of more than 60 artisans in a show featuring around 400 elaborately-stitched items from their personal collections rarely seen in public. Additionally the needlework created by movie and Broadway star Mary Martin will also be featured thanks to a loan from the Doss Museum in Weatherford.

The bonus antique and estate sale event will be an opportunity to buy exceptional decorative items donated from some of Fort Worth’s leading families. A collection of paintings by the late Josephine Mahaffey, the Fort Worth Circle artist known as the Texas Dynamo, will be available courtesy of Heritage Auctions. The sale will be inside the carriage house on the mansion grounds.

Both events will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 23-25 and noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 26. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. The exhibit ticket provides free admission to the sale.

An opening night Champagne Reception for the Stitchers from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 22 from will give guests a preview of the needlework exhibit and a chance to meet the artists. Special guests will be Raymond Crawford, renowned canvas designer, and Laura Taylor, nationally-recognized needlepoint instructor. Tickets are $75.

Thistle Hill is at 1509 Pennsylvania Ave. Details and tickets are available at http://www.historicfortworth.org/or call Coleman at 817-336-2344.

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