Driving along Main Street at the intersection of Hackberry, it’s hard to believe Wilson Funeral Home sat on the northeast corner for years. The single story structure appears to have vanished, replaced by the Tuscan-inspired Art Village on Main.
A trained eye, though, would recognize the remnants of the funeral home, and McAllen builder Alonzo Cantu deliberately preserved part of the original structure. A builder is an artist, too, cherishing the history that lives within the walls of buildings while transforming it into a modern day masterpiece.
The Art Village on Main promises to take the city’s growing Art District to new heights, offering studio lofts for artists, 500- to 5,000-square-foot spaces for dance classes, art galleries and singing lessons, and a large hall for banquets, wedding receptions and meetings. Even the walkway is a work of art, creating a winding path of pavers interspersed with concrete hexagon flowers sprinkled with large drops of color. Near the center of the complex is an area Cantu envisions as an outdoor café where people can enjoy a quiet lunch among family and friends.
“I want to see here what I’ve seen in Santa Fe, Scottsdale and especially San Diego,” said Cantu. “I just wish it was as cool here as it is in San Diego.”
Gentle music will emanate from artistic structures placed amongst the plants. Stone benches rest along the path, welcoming visitors to sit and relax. Even the light fixtures are a work of art, from the handcrafted ceiling light in the lobby outside the banquet hall to the outdoor fixtures found throughout.
Cantu and lead architect Laura Warren blended the soft blue, green, yellow and brown stones with the taupe, rust and deep yellow stucco. They added eyebrows over the doorways and massive wooden doors, the winding walkway and cantera. Finally, the time came for Cantu’s signature touch, the landscaping.
“The landscaping is definitely my favorite part,” Cantu said. “Ralph Ruby creates landscaping designs to match the style of my buildings.” At the Art Village on Main, this landscaping will serve as its own work of art, the greenery mixing perfectly with splendid colorful plants.
A branch of Lone Star National Bank will occupy one of the Village structures. “It will be our main bank,” said Cantu, a shy smile briefly visible on his face. “You know, Main Street.”
Many people have watched the Art Village on Main develop, anticipating its opening. The wait is nearly over. Cantu expects to start leasing space this month.
Soon, Cantu’s latest work of art will have its first official exhibit.