Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Rooms of Renown: N on the Square names all seven suites after prominent local women

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Think back to your favorite teacher or coach in high school. Do you remember how they pushed you? How they encouraged you? The lessons you learned? Take a few minutes to think about their influence and how it’s turned you into the person you are today.

Whether they realize it or not, our academic leaders are still that — our leaders. They’re the ones who believed in us from day one and even now, are still some of our biggest mentors, idols and fans.

When Granbury resident Paula McDonald thinks of her most influential coach in high school, Leta Andrews comes to mind.

Andrews, 84, is known as high school’s all-time winningest basketball coach. She coached for a total of 52 seasons — 26 of those at Granbury High School — racking up a total of 1,416 wins and only 355 losses before her retirement in 2014.

“She actually coached me to two state events, which is hard to do,” McDonald said. “I don’t pat myself on the back; I pat her on the back. I felt like I was an average athlete, but she pushed us to succeed.”

McDonald said Andrews took her to a state track meet during her freshman year and she asked Andrews how she could eventually advance to the state level in track.

"In her cute little Texas drawl, she said, ‘If you listen to me and do what I tell you to do, you’ll get there,’” McDonald said. “That senior year was amazing. I didn’t understand the brevity of making it to two state events, but she is the common denominator there and pushed us so hard. Whatever I’ve done in my life, I had that Leta Mae grit that she inspired in me.”

“Paula was a super fine student and a great track girl, a runner, and she was just an all-around likable person,” Andrews said. “She wasn't missing one beat I guarantee you. She was there to help you. She was there to do what she could do and she did it well.”

Andrews described her relationship with McDonald as “an A-plus-plus,” noting that “you couldn’t help but like Paula.”

“She was well-accepted in high school, and loved. She was just really a peach of a young lady,” Andrews said.

In fact, Andrews left such a huge impact on her life that McDonald felt inspired to give her a gift she will never forget — a suite named in her honor.

LETA ANDREWS SUITE

McDonald and her husband, Mark, recently purchased and restored a building on the square located at 122 N. Crockett, and opened an inn for tourists or other visitors. What was once a real estate business owned by Shirley Hooks is now named N on the Square featuring seven suites — each decorated with a classic country French flair.

Each of the seven rooms in the N on the Square is personalized — named after a prominent woman of Granbury, or a woman who touched the lives of Paula or Mark McDonald.

“We had no intention of building a hotel but once that building came available, I had shown the building to several investors and nobody bit, so when we started mapping out the rooms, we said, ‘Why don’t we make these rooms and name them after women in our lives that have been important or famous women of Granbury?’” Paula said.

“We wanted it to have a little more personality,” Mark said. “We thought it would add a little character to it by naming the rooms after people that were important here in town or in our lives and it gives you a little more story or character about what's going on.”

Andrews was a big inspiration in Paula’s life, and she wanted to honor that by memorializing her in her newest business venture.

“Leta Mae, she was a real inspiration,” Mark said. “She gave Paula a lot of motivation over the years and I'd heard about her from the time I met Paula. I finally met her and she’s just every bit of what I was told about her. She's a real hard charger and she really motivated her.”

Mark also mentioned Andrews’ impact that she made on young women’s lives during her time as a coach and noted that “Paula is one of them.”

Known as the “Queen Bee” of women’s basketball, the Leta Mae "Queen Bee” Suite is decorated in the colors of gold and black.

“It's amazing,” Andrews said, of the suite. “She (Paula) did not leave one thing unturned. She fixed it up really nice.”

When asked how it feels to have a suite named after her, Andrews replied, “I'm surprised, but loving and knowing Paula, she loves to kind of wake you up and bring you to life again.”

SHIRLEY HOOKS SUITE

Shirley Hooks, a longtime realtor in Hood County, was the first woman Paula thought of to name a room after.

Hooks said, “When Mark started working on the building, they told me they wanted to name the first suite after me and wanted to know what my middle name was; that’s how it came to be the Shirley Ann.”

The Shirley Ann Suite features a pop of lavender, as it was Hooks signature — and favorite — color. The room also features “one of the best views” as it looks directly over the historic downtown Granbury square.

“Shirley, she just came up here, and we were showing her (the room) and she just started crying,” Mark said. “It was really neat to show it to her. This has been her life for so long with Bill (her late husband), I thought it would be a nice tribute to her. She's done so much in the community that we wanted to honor her as well.”

"It was just so touching. I'm just so honored that she and Mark did that — especially to be up there with Leta,” Hooks added. “They don’t do anything that’s not first class. They’re such amazing great people.”

Other suites in the hotel include:

The Mary Lou Suite – This suite is named after Mary Lou Watkins, the previous owner of the Nutt House who had an instrumental role in saving the historic Granbury square. Looking through the large windows in the room, guests can see the iconic statue of Mary Lou Watkins on the square.

The Elizabeth Crockett Suite – This suite is named after the wife of Alamo hero David Crockett, Elizabeth, who is buried in Acton. The suite features a Texas twist with a country/French décor. Gorgeous stone walls with an antler chandelier provides a beautiful, relaxed décor in this suite.

The Ruth Annie Suite – This suite is named after Paula’s grandmother, Ruth Annie Hightower, whom she didn’t know for the first 18 years of her life. Dressed in French blue, the Ruth Annie Suite is the hotel’s only double room featuring two king-sized beds in an extra-large room with a sitting area. The luxurious bathroom boasts a walk-in shower and a sensational soaking tub.

The Margaret Ann Suite – This suite is named after Mark’s mother, Margaret Ann McDonald, who was an educator. Her favorite color was green, so the room is designed with beautiful green tones. This suite also has a large seating area perfect for relaxing after walking around the square.

The Sybil Lucille Suite – This suite is named after Paula’s other grandmother, Sybil Lucille Hamilton, who was a talented seamstress and business owner in the 1950s. Paula and Mark designed this room using the fun 50s pink, creating a whimsical and relaxing space. This suite boasts two large windows, providing a lot of natural light.

“There’s so many women that shape our lives — and especially Granbury,” Paula added. “Mary Lou shaped Granbury. She was still alive when I was in high school, and I learned how instrumental she was in preserving the square. I came back 35 years later and now I'm able to buy buildings on the square and restore and continue the tradition she started.”

The N on the Square is now open for reservations. Guests can call 817-559-3785, or visit innonthesquaregranbury.com. Rates vary depending on the time of year with rooms going for between $245-$295 a night.

“The success of Paul and Mark couldn't have happened to any better people than those two because they work hard,” Andrews added. “They care for everybody. It's not just Leta Andrews; it's everybody.”

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