Narratives of Tradition and Transcendence: A Nuanced Examination of the Magnolia Phenomenon


  • Libby Carroll Baylor University



gentrification, urban development, Waco, Magnolia


Two instantly recognizable structures grace the skyline of Waco, Texas. Rounded, looming, and rusted, the Silos form a geographical indicator of the presence of Chip and Joanna Gaines‘ home-centric empire — Magnolia. A brief drive through Waco soon reveals that Magnolia and its distinctive subculture are unlike any other entity within the city. Magnolia is not Waco, yet it defines Waco. Within this project, I seek to better understand the unique subculture of Magnolia juxtaposed against the drastically different environment of Waco. To fully understand the inner workings of this subculture, I compile details from frequent visits to Magnolia occurring over a period of three months, noting everything from the layout of the grounds to the products sold to the people who enter Magnolia‘s gates and their tendencies in a field notebook. My studies help me to assemble a comprehensive picture of Magnolia‘s unique subculture and its effects, both positive and negative, upon the city it inhabits. In doing so, I hope to contribute to scholarly understandings of the inequitable outcomes resulting from gentrification within Waco, addressing the lack of knowledge within existing literature about Magnolia‘s role in this process.