(KLST/KSAN)– Roger Allen first opened the Chicken Farm Art Center in 1971. Jerry Warnell worked alongside him for over three decades.
“I met him in 1985 and we became vast friends,” Warnell said. “It was all about the Chicken Farm and his dream of what the Chicken Farm should be.”
Allen passed away in 2019. He left half of the Chicken Farm to Jerry and his wife, Susan. Shortly after, they started having discussions about their own retirements. Jerry said he and Roger’s wife, Pam, began the search for new owners, but it wasn’t easy. If fact, they turned away multiple offers.
Hope was soon restored once Chasity and Juston Oakes came along. The couple said they fell in love with the art center while on a date night at the Silo House Restaurant. They had plans of investing in some real estate. That’s when the Chicken Farm came up.
“We kind of brushed it off and thought there’s no way we are probably a long shot from being able to purchase the Chicken Farm, but it kept on coming up on our searches and we couldn’t deny the feeling that we felt like the Chicken Farm was calling us,” Chasity said.
Chasity and Juston moved to San Angelo about two years ago and spoke of wanting to establish roots here in the community. What better way than to become the owners one of the city’s top tourist attractions?
“If we could have hand picked two new people to take over the Chicken Farm, we couldn’t have done any better,” Warnell said.
Juston said their goal is to keep Roger Allen’s legacy alive, while also putting their own spin on the place.
“Roger Allen did a lot of great work over the years with the stripe ware and the star keeper series and a lot of other series and we want to keep that legacy alive and expand on that and bring in other potters’ work and add it into the pottery shop and the retail gallery to give other artists maybe even outside of San Angelo a place to sell their wonderful art,” Juston said.
Right now there are three bed and breakfast locations at the art center. Chasity said they are looking into possibly adding three more.
“And we’ll also be expanding into one of the residences, Roger Allen’s home actually, and creating that into an air bnb as well,” Chasity said.
The couple said they want people to come make memories and stay as long as they’d like.
“Also want to turn this into a venue where folks can come and have birthday parties, family reunions, or wedding receptions and just enjoy the atmosphere and the culture,” Juston said.
Chasity said they plan to keep the integrity and the spirit of the art center Roger Allen created all those years ago.
“We want to preserve that legacy and do things that enhance the community here in the campus to make it thrive another 50 years or more,” Chasity said.
Juston said there’s more to experience than just the first Saturday, but also week days all month long.
“Please explore, take your time, because that’s what really drew my wife and I into it,” Juston said.
Jerry said he plans to stay connected to the Chicken Farm forever.
“I’ve spent more than 30 years here, so I mean it’s home,” Warnell said. “It’s what we’ve always wanted to do is take it bigger and better but we ran out of energy, and these folks are at the point where they are just getting ready to go.”
He said he hopes the community welcomes the Oakes with open arms.
“I know that it’s going to take the Chicken Farm to bigger and better,” Warnell said.