PaperCity Magazine

Round Top_June 2021

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a background in bar management, he saw the venue as the ideal place for a courtyard bar. The property had two white shipping containers, and Hjorting began renovating one of them into a full custom bar, cleverly named The Ice Box. He envisions a watering hole for community events, music, and food trucks — when it isn't busy with weddings bookings, of course. "There's no place like The Ice Plant in the area," he says. "I would drive from Austin to come here and listen to music." As life in Texas begins to return to normal, The Ice Plant has opened its doors to tours a n d p h o t o shoots on a daily basis. O'Brien's and H j o r t i n g 's social-media skills have put the venue on the radar of a hip crowd that appreciates the histor y and aesthetics of the space. Texas influencers, wedding mags, and photographers have already flocked. Images and branded shoots have popped up via Instagram and in wedding-industry publications. The growth of The Ice Plant is undeniably organic — and that's the way Brubaker, O'Brien, and Hjorting like it. No one could have predicted in 2015 that Brubaker's search for a ranch house in rural Texas would end with the most unique building in La Grange. She found a place that just felt good, she says, and now she and her family call La Grange home. The skoolie has been parked, and O'Brien and Hjorting have traded in bus life for house life, acquiring acreage with a plan to found a tiny-house community called The Pond Collective. They welcomed their first child a few weeks ago, a son named Logan. The legacy of the reborn La Grange ice plant has become an integral part of the area's modern history — and how could it not — The Ice Plant Bldg. is the coolest spot in town. immediately decided they wanted to have their wedding there. It became a mad scramble to make the venue viable for the big day. The building still had no electricity, no windows, no doors, and zero decor. A new contractor jumped in to save the day with the construction punch list, and the trio of transplanted Texans were all hands on deck. There was an entire bridal suite to furnish, lighting to select for the main room, and all of the other pieces that would make the space feel complete. Most of the furniture and lighting was sourced from Old World Antieks in La Grange, and the Flophouze and Nomad at Ex-cess around Round Top. The Ice Plant Bldg. hosted its first wedding in February 2020. Inside The Ice Plant Bldg., white concrete pillars anchor the lofty 20- foot ceilings. Massive chandeliers are suspended from above, and the imperfect white walls are dotted with frosted windows that allow in soft ambient light and provide privacy from the street outside. The bride has a large suite with cozy leather furniture, kitchenette, an entire wall of butterfly specimens, and a private bath with clawfoot tub. The equation of the visual elements at The Ice Plant Bldg. is equal parts industrial and elegant. Of course, the promising start to wedding bookings came to a screeching halt in March 2020, due to the pandemic. Since The Ice Plant wasn't technically up and running yet, no weddings needed to be postponed or cancelled. Instead, it was an opportune time to focus on future bookings and a broader vision. Brubaker and her daughter decided that certain areas of the building could use added visual layers of interest and more Instagrammable moments. Through a friend, they connected with Austin yogi and artist Miki Ash. They commissioned her to paint murals on the exterior and interiors of the building. The artist's pink-mottled wall on the outside deck gives off cherry- blossom vibes; inside, the spiritual eyes and stars she painted in the restroom hallways twinkle in the glow of the chandeliers. In the bridal-suite bathroom, Ash's freeform brushstrokes add a languid and modern moment to the minimally luxe space. She also devised a painterly touch for a small hallway where most brides make their grand entrance into the main room: She painted those walls with subtle, abstract layers of pink, rose, and gold. While Brubaker and O'Brien focused on incorporating new visual spots, Hjorting honed his own vision. With 18

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