Names and Faces: Ben Hardeman
Ben Hardeman has been a part of Bryan for a long time, and he's done his best to take care of the city he loves.
These days, if you're looking for Hardeman, you'll most likely find him in Downtown Bryan restoring the Queen Theater. He's lived in Bryan for more than 70 years. He originally came here because of Texas A&M University.
"My dad was interested in moving here to take a job at A&M because his grandfather had been in the first class at A&M enrolled in 1876," he said. Hardeman also attended Texas A&M and later took a big interest in the development of the city of Bryan. So, he snagged a spot on the city council.
"We need good leaders on the council, that don't have a vested interest, and I felt like I was one of those. I was in a business where most of our customers were spread all over the US," Hardeman explained. In addition to working on the city council, Hardeman also joined the Downtown Bryan Association. One of the things that impacted him the most was a Lyle Lovett music video shot in downtown.
"In the video, he took a walk in Downtown Bryan in 1990. Some of the images were of the Palace Theater and you could see the floor was filled with water with leaves floating on it," said Hardeman. That motivated him to help restore, not only the Palace, but the Queen as well.
"It's the most visually unique building downtown, especially with that crown on top and the capability of the crown rotating," he said. " I just want to leave downtown Bryan better that I found it."
The Queen is set to reopen to the public on May 4.
The Downtown Bryan Association says they're in need of some volunteers to help out. They will accept anyone who is willing to donate their time, including those with framework and sheet-rocking skills.
In April 2017, it got a much need boost in funding.
The association received approval for a construction loan with a cap of $500,000. The association will eventually have to pay back that money. Members say they will still need help from the community in order to do that.
The last time The Queen was open was in the mid 1970s.
When it opens, it will also be available to rent out for parties and businesses.
If you'd like to be a volunteer, contact the Downtown Bryan Association at (979) 822-4920