What started as a family’s barn, albeit an elaborate one, is quickly turning into one of the most sought after destinations for anything from children’s birthday parties to movie productions.
Los Trece, Texas – located at 3901 U.S. Highway 84/183 South in Early – is a three-street old west town on the property owned by Darrin and Jayme St. Ama. A little less than a year ago, the first post was put down for a barn – and the dreaming and building continued from there.
“We bought the property two years ago and there was nothing on it, it was a 13-acre lavender field,” Darrin St. Ama said. “We lived downtown so we built a shop out here within the first year, then we sold our building downtown so we had to come up with a place to live pretty quick. We had a pole barn started over here so we ended up closing that in and moving out here.
“She wanted a big barn and on Dec. 18, 2019 we put the first post in to build this barn. But I wanted an old west town, or I thought that would be a pretty good idea from back when I was 10 years old. Every 10 year old wants to live in an old west town. We started this Dec. 18, 2019 and 11 months later this is where we’re at.”
Jayme St. Ama added, “It just kind of kept expanding and expanding from just a barn to three streets.”
The largest building on the property is the Forge Saloon, which includes a small performance stage inside as well as plenty of tables and chairs for dining, and room to dance.
“At first we thought it would just be cool to have a saloon in your backyard,” Darrin St. Ama said. “Once we started posting pictures on social media people started getting curious about it, then it became addicting. Now we have a blacksmith shop, an old mining company, and carnival row. Every building is named after a loved one, someone that passed or someone we have a lot of respect for.”
The name Los Trece, which translates to the 13 in Spanish, came from the acreage size of the property.
“When we were first out here our kids and everybody would always ask if we were going to be at the 13 because that’s what we all started calling it,” Jayme St. Ama said “So that’s how we came up with the Los Trece.”
There were no original plans for the old west town to be anything more than for the enjoyment of the St. Amas, until another family member made a suggestion.
“I always wanted to do some kind of venue but we really didn’t know where this was going to go, and we still don’t,” Jayme St. Ama said. “The Plunder girls, his niece is part of that, and they asked before it was even close to looking like it does now if they could rent it. So he busted his tail for two months and once they posted all their pictures I started getting phone calls like crazy from people wanting to rent it. It’s been a whirlwind and we always said the people will tell us what we need to do with it, we really didn’t have a plan.”
A private party was held on the property on Halloween, and a fall fiesta – open to the public – took place this past weekend. Christmas on the Streets of Los Trece is currently slated for Saturday, Dec. 19 from 5 to 10 p.m., and will be open to the public.
“We’ll have an old west Santa Claus and the gunfighters will be here,” Darrin St. Ama said. “The kids games are free and adults can sit around or walk around and they’ll be a concession stand and live music. We have primitive games for the kids, they don’t have their head buried up in technology, they’re very simple and primitive but the kids will play for hours and hours. It’s incredible to watch and we’ve had a lot of comments on that.”
Vendors are also welcome at Christmas on the Streets of Los Trece, free of charge.
“We used to be vendors, my company Savage Saint Custom Iron Works, when we started out 20 years ago,” Darrin St. Ama said. “We were doing the shows and stuff like that and it was a pain – a lot of traveling, paying so much money for a booth and then nobody may show up, but you have to pay for the booth before you make any profit. That’s why we’re doing booths for free, to help families out with all the COVID stuff.”
There are also plenty of animals on the property to keep kids entertained, from donkeys to horses to mini-donkeys to pigs and chickens.
One of the most popular activities for kids and adults alike is “chicken poop poker.”
“There’s a wagon with poker cards on them and we sell the poker cards for a $1 a piece, and where ever the chicken poops, that’s the winner,” Darrin St. Ama said. “The kids play that, too. It’s funny watching 30 adults standing there watching a chicken poop.”
Los Trece could also be featured on the big screen in the future, as inquiries are being made to use the property as a movie set.
“I got a phone call from a movie producer in Fort Worth that’s coming Saturday,” Darrin St. Ama said. “We’ve had several calls because there’s only so many old west towns in the country, and a lot are being torn down. You have to be really committed to one to keep one up.”
The St. Amas stated that a chapel will be the next addition to Los Trece.
“We’ll keep adding on until we get tired of dreaming,” Darrin St. Ama said. “It started off as something simple, that’s how most things get out of hand. We just do it out of our pocket a little bit at a time, after hours, on the weekends. It’s not a commercial venture, we live here.”
The venue is available to rent for anything from weddings to reunions to retirement and birthday parties. Going forward, the St. Amas themselves hope to one day host monthly events at Los Trece, potentially on the 13th of each month.
“We’re not pushing it one way or the other,” Darrin St. Ama said. “The big deal is people will tell us what it is – whether it’s for an 8 year old’s birthday or for retirement parties or reunions, we don’t know what it’s for. We know how it works for us – it’s fun to mess around and play with.”
Jayme St. Ama said some events had already been booked as far in advance as April and May of 2021.
For more information on the venue or rental information, visit the Los Trece, Texas Facebook page.