Meet the Woman Who Was Evicted to Make Way For Bikinis, Texas

Categories: Development

MaggieMontgomery.jpg
Phil Houseal
Maggie Montgomery, in front of the home she lived in for 15 years.
There was never much to Bankersmith, Texas -- little more than a post office and general store at its peak -- but it wasn't a ghost town. Maggie Montgomery made sure of that.

Maggie -- she promptly disabused me of the notion that I would call her Mrs. Montgomery when we spoke on the phone -- moved to the Hill Country outpost around 1997 to man the NOAA rain gauge. "The place was in horrible disrepair," she recalls, but she immediately set to work cleaning, remodeling, rebuilding.

In back of her house, she built a stage. For those who knew it, Bankersmith was like Luckenbach, only more so. People would gather and "listen to people pick and sing and do whatever they do on stage." One of the people who picked and sang there a lot was Maggie's son, Monte Montgomery, an accomplished guitarist and singer-songwriter.

Maggie welcomed all comers, be they weekenders looking for some good music or hard-luck drifters looking for a place to kill an evening. Her friend, terminally ill of cancer, checked out of his hospice in 2005 to spend his last days in Bankersmith.

"He died there at my house, and it was a beautiful thing," Maggie says. "We were all there."

And then they weren't. During one of the weekend shows, a man from Missouri or New York or somewhere that wasn't Bankersmith came talking about wanting to buy the place. The barbecue guy, who put on the shows with Maggie, overheard him and spoke up.

"It turns out he owned pretty much the whole place and said 'I'll sell it to you right now,'" she says.

Maggie didn't pay much attention. She heard occasionally that some documents were being filed in court or that this-or-that was happening, but she'd always been told and had always assumed she'd be allowed to stay there forever. Forever didn't last as long as she'd hoped and, just a few weeks ago, she was given a month to vacate the property.

The new owner was Doug Guller, and his plans for the area were much bigger than Bankersmith or Maggie Montgomery, as he revealed last week when he issued a press release announcing that he was naming it Bikinis, Texas after his Austin-based breastaurant chain, and turning it into a "world class destination."

Guller's publicity stunt worked wonders as the news spread nationwide, fueled partly by Guller's hubris of buying a town but mostly by the prominence of breasts. No one -- yours truly included -- dug too deeply into the press release. We were aware that Bankersmith wasn't a town in the traditional sense, with land and buildings and people, but it made a fun, quick story. And, like I said: boobs.

Locals knew better. Phil Houseal, who writes a column for the weekly paper in Fredericksburg and once lived in Bankersmith, debunks some of Guller's claims here. For one, Bankersmith is not in Kendall but in Gillespie County, and the so-called "town" isn't a town at all but 1.6 acres with a building and a shed. As for the claim that Guller saw the property listed on Craigslist, that seems to have been cooked up after the deal was done.

The most galling part of the whole thing was that Guller had scrubbed Maggie Montgomery from the history of Bankersmith since, in many ways, she is the history of Bankersmith.

She lives in Comfort now, a dozen miles away, and says she is comfortable there. She misses her old place and is understandably a little put out at how the whole thing has transpired, but just a little.

"I kind of feel like big corporate America just stepped on me," she says.

But she's not one to hold a grudge, and she even laughs a bit a the thought the Guller is going to turn the place into anything but a world-class press release. The German neighbors in Gillespie County are none too pleased at the thought of living on the outskirts of Bikinis, Texas, not to mention that the water there is too terrible for anyone not accustomed to it to drink.

Whether or not Guller turns Bankersmith into a colony of his breastaurant empire doesn't matter much to Maggie any more. He can't erase the music or the fellowship or anything else that's happened there during the past 15 years.

"I just want the story about the beautiful little place told."

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14 comments
G_David
G_David

"Monte Montgomery, an accomplished guitarist and singer-songwriter."

 

This is without a doubt the most understated thing I've ever read on Unfair Park, or anywhere for that matter. 

Dan Bach
Dan Bach

I think the purchase of this property is a publicity stunt. I'd highly doubt that the property would support a breastaurant.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

She should thrown on a bikini and run around the joint just for giggles.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

there's some songwriting material for Monte Montgomery. interesting that connection. Ticket heads out there should look up the profile written by Gordon Keith for this publication.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

I personally have no sympathy for her. She heard the deal happened and was told about the proceedings happening. This is the same as when someone has housing as part of their job benefits and is let go.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

Are you so socialist that you begrudge the right of someone to buy property and dispatch it as they see fit?  The tone or undertone of this article is disturbing. 

MattL11
MattL11

 @scottindallas The tone of your comment is what's disturbing. Do you really see that scary "socialism" specter behind every door and around every corner? It was an article about a woman and her home. Chill out. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @MattL11 no, I don't, but do you begrudge the right of a person to buy property and do with it what they wish?  How crazy, when I bought my house, I made sure that in the contract I took possession of the property.  The seller had to leave.   If he had rented it out, the renter would've had to leave.  I don't see outrage at that.  But someone who would, would be telling me what I can do with my house.   That's socialism or some kinda collective action, no?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  @MattL11 as far as I know I'm the only one who's advocated for it in utility markets on these boards.  But, if someone buys land, and wants to develop it, I don't begrudge them that. 

 

I don't know how many of you have been to Luckenbach TX, it's not much different.  I have in-laws in Fredricksburg, in Gillespie county.  And plan to check this out, before and after.  I have no interest in breastaurants, but I'll certainly check it out.  The plans will no doubt bear some resemblance to that venture where "everybody is somebody."   Luckenbach is more my speed, I've been going there for 20 years now.  I wish I'd seen this old town before this, but it's not for me to disparage the "progress" on private property.   There's an element of Big Bend here too, where corporate ventures come in with big plans only to have the desert win.  C'est la vie.

MattL11
MattL11

That doesn't make any sense. Nobody suggested that this guy can't do what he wants. The point was that it's unfortunate what happened as a result. Nobody is advocating for "collective action" or whatever you want to call it. The woman had a cool little spot. It's going away. That's kind of sad.

 

But read into it what you want. I'm done playing the crazy police today.

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