November 09, 2005
RIP, Gilley's

It's nice to know that the coldblooded destruction of local landmarks also happens outside the city of Houston. Today's victim: Gilley's.

The one-time Saturday night rodeo hotspot is being torn down this week by Kingwood-based Inland Environment Inc. at the behest of the Pasadena school district, which acquired the property through a tax default.

A fire claimed the club portion of Gilley's in 1990. The 60,000-square-foot arena was spared but has since been deserted.

The 13 1/2 -acre site is being cleared to make way for a middle school, school district spokesman Mark Kramer said.


The last go-round for the arena, which hosted a crowd of 10,000 for a George Strait concert and televised professional wrestling, attracted only a handful of onlookers Tuesday.

The demolition tumbled a holdover metal apostrophe and cursive S from the Gilley's lettering on the arena's facade. Moments later, after being struck by one of the excavators, the dusty marquee, bearing the words "WELCOME RODEO FANS," briefly hung in limbo before crashing in a heap of twisted scrap metal.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Did anyone remember to salvage some memorabilia before they tore that sucker down? There's gotta be some eBay money in it." Well, you can rest easy, because someone did.

Inland Environment owner Jed Landrey, 36, said he and his employees scoured the arena for collectibles before the demolition started.

Landrey is keeping some of the items, including a calf-roping chute and a Gilley's sign, for a 20-acre farm he owns. Other signs and bull gates bearing the club's name, he said, will be sold online.

"I've always heard about Gilley's and watched" Urban Cowboy, Landrey said. "It was neat to get the job and see it in another way."

Am I the only one reminded of that old T-shirt slogan about joining the Army so you can travel to exotic places, meet interesting people, and kill them? Just asking.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 09, 2005 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack

I have memories of Gilley's myself, although I don't think I'd buy any memorabilea from eBay. I went there a few times when it was open, and learned that you had to put your visor down when you parked in the parking lot so they wouldn't put a Gilley's bumper sticker on your bumper.

If I remember correctly, the fire in 1990 was suspected arson, and Mickey Gilley was suspected of ties to the mob.

Keep up the good work putting the truth out to an otherwise ignorant public here in the Lone Star State.

Posted by: Wyld Card on November 9, 2005 7:48 PM

Ha! I wish I had pictures of some of the shiners I gave as well as got in that place! :^D :^D

And that's to say nothing of fighting with some of the cowboys who went there, not just with some of the girls! :^D :^D :^D

Posted by: ttyler5 on November 11, 2005 2:48 PM

I have fond memories of Gilley's. I got to go there in the early 80's with my husband. He has sinced passed away, so when I look at some of the photos I have, I can smile. Is there a site to go to to see some pictures of the original Gilley's?

Posted by: Pamela on January 5, 2006 1:07 AM