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HIDDEN GEM: Angleton hearts

"We like to say we’re only limited by our customers’ imagination," said Butch Murrell, whose company made the giant sculptures.

ANGLETON, Texas — At Coastal Machine and Mechanical in Angleton, Butch Murrell is used to getting interesting requests.

"One thing about fabrication is every project is different," he said.

The company, which typically does machine work and fabrication for neighboring chemical plants, is always up for a challenge.

"We like to say we’re only limited by our customers’ imagination," Murrell said. "If you can imagine it, we can build it."

So in the late ‘90s when someone approached Murrell about building a heart sculpture out of steel pipe, he knew his team could pull it off. They ended up building seven of them, each 9-feet tall, which you can see along different routes as you drive into Angleton. Those were installed in 2000.

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"It was 2013 when they started talking about it: a bigger one," Murrell remembered.

In this case, 'bigger' meant 20-feet tall, using 12-inch stainless steel pipe instead of the 4-inch pipe used in the smaller versions. 

Butch and his team documented the whole process that unfolded inside Coastal's fabrication shop and outside of it once the heart grew too big.

"You see it and it just looks pretty and it’s nice and shiny and you don’t think anything of what goes into building one of those things," Murrell said.

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Safe to say, the shine hasn’t worn off -- off the sculptures or off the community’s fondness for them, especially the 20-foot one. The City of Angleton even incorporated the heart into its logo.

"At Christmas, they decorate it. People go out take wedding pictures underneath," Murrell smiled.

In a way, that’s a piece of his heart on display.

"It’s become a central location for special memories," said Murrell. "That’s what makes me proud."

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