This Historic Seaside Resort in TX was saved from demolition in 2023

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas
Date added: March 09, 2024 Categories:
South facade and front lawn (2007)

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The Luther Hotel, fronting onto Tres Palacios Bay in the town of Palacios, Matagorda County, is one of the few surviving tourist and residential hotels built along the Gulf Coast as part of extensive land development schemes throughout Texas in the early 20th century. The Palacios Bay Townsite Company commissioned regional architect Jules C. Leffland to design its showcase resort hotel in 1903. Leffland designed the hotel as a long, clapboard Cape Cod-type resort hotel with a broad, full-facade veranda facing the town's East Bay. In 1905, only two years after its completion, the town's developers had the building cut into three sections and moved a half-mile to front the ocean on South Bay Boulevard. Since then, the three-story frame hotel building has withstood numerous tropical storms and one fire. The hotel was renovated several times, most notably between 1939 and 1941 when it received a two-story pedimented portico supported by monumental classical columns; during this same building campaign, an 11-unit motor court was added to the site to accommodate automobile tourists.

The Bay View Hotel grew up with the town. Palacios was platted in 1902, and in 1903 the PCTC commissioned a hotel for would-be investors and residents. It is the first known construction project of the townsite company.

The PCTC hired Jules Car] Leffland, sometimes called "the first architect of Palacios," to design their showcase hotel. Leffland was a Danish architect who moved to Victoria and worked in South Texas from 1885-1910. In addition to the 1903 hotel, he also designed the first Palacios Pavilion (1904), the Palacios State Bank (1906), Palacios College (1905), and the Price-Farwell House (1909). In total, Leffland designed seventeen buildings in Matagorda County, all constructed between 1900 and 1910; only eight remain.

D.D. Rittenhouse, the hotel's builder, was born in Jennings, Louisiana, but he and his family made their way to Palacios by the turn of the century. While the hotel was under construction, the Rittenhouse family, along with the construction crew, lived in tents on the hotel grounds. Once the building was complete, Rittenhouse and his family chose to stay in Palacios permanently, where he constructed many of the town's early 20th-century homes and businesses; he also built the first pavilion in South Bay, located in front of the hotel's current location. Rittenhouse was active in Palacios civic life and was among the seven charter members of the First Baptist Church. In 1909 he opened a furniture store and undertaking business on Commerce Street and was later joined in the funeral business by his two sons. Rittenhouse retired in 1934 and died in 1942.

As originally built, the Bay View Hotel faced the East Bay; however, in 1905 Rittenhouse was hired to move the extensive frame building a half-mile from the East Bay to face the South Bay. To facilitate this move, the original chimney and Cape Cod-style porches were removed from the building, and the structure was sectioned into three parts and pulled by mules to the new site. Additional wings and a 400-foot-long porch, claimed to be the longest front porch in Texas, were constructed out of the same yellow pine and cypress used in the original building. The relocation and subsequent expansion of the building were most likely were associated with the construction of the pavilion on the South Bay, also designed by Leffland.

Connected by a walkway, the renamed Hotel Palacios and the pavilion became more than a place for would-be investors: it became the focus of town activities and a tourist destination for seaside jaunts. Guests and townspeople alike enjoyed activities at the hotel which included dances in the ballroom and banquets in the restaurant; out-of-towners came to swim, fish, hunt for ducks, and take in the view of the bay from the long porch or the pavilion. Children roller skated along the 400-foot porch, and a box ball alley was constructed on the hotel grounds which provided recreation in the winter months. The Palacios Marine Band often played from the hotel's porch. Eventually, a resident hotel orchestra provided entertainment for social events which attracted many of the town's citizens.

The hotel's success as a tourist destination encouraged the PCTC, which built it to attract potential investors in the nascent community. Once the townsite project was underway and the hotel had served its initial purpose, the PCTC sought to divest itself of the costly property, as its members were not hoteliers but land speculators; company managers were eager to dispose of the property when maintenance problems and other irksome details of proprietorship arose. The first hotel manager, to whom the company leased the hotel, seemed to have difficulty running the hotel's operations, and the PCTC manager grew increasingly anxious over the man's inability to maintain and operate the building, writing to investors in 1911 that "it was so poorly run that I could not stand the meals."

The PCTC pursued several individuals to run the hotel, including L.B. Parkins, operator of the Blessing Hotel, also designed by architect Leffland in the nearby town of Blessing. Over the years, the company received inquiries from various parties interested in purchasing or leasing the hotel. The PCTC manager responded to all, stating that it would sell the hotel, including all furnishings, for $20,000, which was about half of the appraised value. He described the hotel's business to potential buyers as having a "large, transient trade, and is both a summer and winter resort, its best business being done in the summer when the people from the interior come here for the cool breeze and attractions of the shore."

In April 1917 the PCTC sold the land and building, along with several other lots, to J.F. Barnett. Barnett had moved to Palacios at the turn of the century to work for the Grant Lumber Company and soon left to work for the Palacios State Bank. The bank later became the Palacios State Bank and Trust Co., and Barnett became its president; in addition, Barnett served as County Democratic chairman, treasurer of Palacios, and secretary of Palacios ISD.

The hotel changed hands again and was owned by Ben Ehlers for a few short years. Three investors from Illinois; Dr. W.W. Van Woermer, E.J. Seaward, and F.O. Jennings; purchased the hotel from Ben Ehlers in 1924, and they planned to remodel the hotel's rooms and install new bathrooms "to meet the requirements of the high-class tourist trade that is attracted here primarily because of the salubrious climate." By the 1930s, however, the three Illinois gentlemen approached Charles Luther about purchasing the Hotel Palacios to renovate it and return it to its former status.

The Luther Hotel

In 1936 Charles and Elsie Mae (nee Calloway) Luther agreed to purchase the Hotel Palacios from its Illinois-based owners and assume an enormous renovation project; the couple already was successful in automobile sales, having purchased a local Chevrolet dealership in 1929 and reorganized it as the Bay Chevrolet Company. Charles Luther recalled that the property's title "was a mess" and required trips to every state, save for Washington and Oregon, to correct it. The Palacios Beacon described the hotel as an "eyesore and a liability against the community," but the Luthers, undaunted, set out to meet all 175 requirements of the National Hotel Association for hotels, apartments hotels, and tourist courts.

In 1939 the Luthers hired Houston-based architect O.J. Howard to design the hotel renovation, which reinforced the structure, added a cedar shingle roof, and installed bathrooms and electricity. The restaurant service was discontinued, allowing for the demolition of the kitchen and dining room; the ballroom and the 400-foot-long porch also were dismantled at this time. The salvageable cypress from the porch was reused to convert several guest rooms into apartments to house military families as world war loomed. When finished, the renamed Luther Hotel featured 15 guestrooms and 24 apartments.

Howard also designed an 11-unit motor court, a stucco-covered, Art Moderne-styled structure with a linear plan that stretched to a length of 430 feet. Each unit contained a single room, bathroom, and a covered carport that attached one unit to the next. The motor court was built largely in response to the increase in military personnel stationed in the area during World War II. Generally, however, military families lived in the two- and three-room apartments in the hotel, and the motor court was reserved for vacationing travelers. The "motel" concept of single-story, one-room linear plan or U-shaped courts had increased with automobile touring in the 1930s, and by 1941 when the Luther Motor Court opened, the Moderne-styled court was typical of the trend. It catered to travelers of limited means who needed only a room and bath to enjoy a seaside vacation.

Upon the hotel's reopening on April 20th, 1941-the Luthers' 20th wedding anniversary-the pride many Palacios residents felt towards the hotel was clear; the local newspaper quoted citizens as commenting, "It is a mighty fine hotel and an asset to Palacios," and, "I think it is just one of the finest things in the world for the town." A setback occurred in 1944, when a fire gutted the attic over the middle and east wings; however, the hotel was quickly repaired and reopened.

As owners of a successful automobile dealership and a bayside hotel, the Luthers became prominent citizens of Palacios. Soon after the end of World War II, they purchased a Gulf Oil distributorship, which they owned for fifty years. The couple lived in a home located at Welch and Fourth Streets in Palacios until 1977, when they moved into the Luther Hotel.

Charles Luther was active in the Democratic Party and in the civic life of Palacios, and he was elected mayor of Palacios in 1952. As a concerned citizen, he had worked to get the first Palacios Seawall built on the South Bay in the 1930s; in the 1980s, he lobbied Governor Mark White and the State Legislature to reactivate the Seawall Commission, which resulted in an extension of the seawall along both bay shores. At the time of his death in 1988, Luther was serving as chairman on Seawall Commission.

"A temporary restraining order was placed on the demolition," said Palacios Preservation Association co-chair Margaret Doughty. "The City of Palacios were informed that they were not able to issue the building permit for two weeks while the injunction papers were being worked on for a hearing that's been set for Feb. 2." (2023)

A charitable group, the Ed Rachal Foundation, is under contract to buy the Luther Hotel on terms that it be torn down. The foundation wants to build something new in its place - but the Palacios Preservation Association has been trying to convince the foundation to instead restore the building. Texas Public Radio

How Two "Little Old Ladies" Saved the Most Endangered Building in Texas

Matagorda County, Texas

Matagorda County is located in southeast Texas, along the Gulf of Mexico. Covering 1,612 square miles of total land and water area, the county is bisected by the once flood-prone Colorado River, with many creeks and tributaries also flowing south toward Matagorda Bay or the Gulf of Mexico. The county's name comes from the Spanish words mata (brush, sprig, blade) and gorda (fat, thick), which locally is thought to mean "dense canebrake" in reference to the plants once found along Caney Creek and the shores of Matagorda Bay. The majority of the county is flat and delta-like, with fertile coastal prairies, coastal marshes, and riparian forests. Within the county are large bays which collectively have a surface area of approximately 500 square miles. They are sheltered from the Gulf by the long, thin Matagorda Peninsula, which functions as a barrier island. The Colorado River channel, essentially an isthmus, divides the bays into East Matagorda Bay to the east and the larger Matagorda Bay to the west. After crossing the bay, the river channel cuts across the peninsula at approximately its midway point. Tres Palacios Bay is a small, irregular-shaped bay extending north from Matagorda Bay, at the mouth of Tres Palacios Creek.

For 300 years before the first permanent European settlement was established, explorers and cartographers had a presence in Matagorda Bay and the area around present-day Matagorda. The first record of an Anglo-European man in Texas dates to the Feast Day of Corpus Christi in 1519, when Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda, agent to the Governor of Spanish Jamaica, mapped the Texas coastline. Sometime after 1528, Cabeza de Vaca and companions likely passed through what would become Matagorda County during expeditions into the Texas interior. In 1558, Guido de Lavazares went ashore at Matagorda Bay and claimed possession for the Spanish king. This was the first known formal European possession claim in Texas. Frenchman Robert de la Salle sailed into Matagorda Bay in 1685, setting up temporary camps on Matagorda Island and on the mainland near the future site of Indianola before proceeding up the Lavaca River and establishing Fort St. Louis. In the 1680s, Spanish expeditions seeking to destroy La Salle's fort sailed into the area. In 1690, Manuel Jose de Cardenas y Magania produced a map of the Matagorda Bay area.

The first permanent settlements in Texas by non-native peoples were the missions, founded by the Spanish in an attempt to establish centers of Christianity and educate the indigenous people. The missions, established with varying degrees of success between 1682 and 1793, were located inland. As early as 1805, Spain had interest in establishing a port at the mouth of the Colorado River, at present-day Matagorda. It was in 1822, however, that the first permanent settlement was established there, by Anglo-Americans in Stephen F. Austin's colony.

Stephen F. Austin was 27 years old when his father Moses Austin made plans to travel to San Antonio to secure a grant of land and permission to settle it. Stephen agreed to join his father in the venture, but while waiting to meet him in Louisiana, he learned of his father's death. Austin continued to San Antonio alone, arrived in August 1821, and obtained permission from Governor Antonio Maria Martinez to proceed with the colonization effort. The arrangement was such that Austin could explore the coast and select a colony site between the San Antonio and Brazos Rivers, then offer large plots of land to each settler. The amount of land a settler would receive was based on size of family and number of slaves, with a base amount of 640 acres given to the settler as head of family. From his colonists, Austin would collect 12.5 cents per acre for his efforts. Austin advertised his colony immediately, and by December 1821 colonists were arriving on the Texas coast. After Mexican independence, the region's new provisional government made changes to Austin's colonization agreement- in January 1823 Agustin de Iturbide's congress instead developed the empresario system. In this system, heads of families are given a league and a labor of land, or 4,605 acres, and the empresario, or land agent, receives 67,000 acres of land for every 200 families he settles, but collects nothing from the colonists themselves.

American and European settlers continued to arrive. In 1822 Only Son, a schooner from New Orleans full of Stephen F. Austin's colonists arrived at the mouth the Colorado River in Matagorda Bay. It was followed shortly by another ship of settlers, and still more in 1828 when Austin was awarded another colonization contract. Land grants were distributed inland, upstream along the various rivers in the area. Caney Creek was a popular early settlement location because of the rich alluvial soil along it. Elias R. Wightman, a surveyor, and several other men petitioned Stephen Austin for permission to build a town at the mouth of the Colorado, for the purpose of better protecting settlers in the area. In 1827 Austin consented, setting aside a league of land at the site and securing permission from the Mexican government to proceed. By 1829 the town of Matagorda was formally organized, and was incorporated in 1830. By 1835 it was the third largest town in the province of Texas, with 1,400 inhabitants, and was one of the region's most important ports.

In 1834, while the region remained under control of the Mexican government, the municipality of Matagorda was established, spanning a large area with its western border on the Lavaca River as far as present-day Colorado County. Before and during the Texas Revolution, people from the Matagorda area participated in councils, the Convention of 1833, and troops from the area were sent to aid Colonel James Fannin. After the war, the new Republic of Texas organized twenty-three counties; Matagorda County was established by the Republic of Texas on March 17th, 1836, with the city of Matagorda as its seat, but its organization was not completed until the following year. In July 1837, county officers were selected. The new county showed strong growth early on; its location on the coast meant that it saw agriculture, shipping, and immigration-all things important to the early growth of Texas.

The city of Matagorda became the second largest seaport in Texas and served as a point of entry for immigrants from 1840 until 1865. During this time the county saw a large increase in the development of transportation and industry; by 1850 both livestock and cotton were important components of the local economy. In 1850 the county's population was 2,124, of whom 1,200 were enslaved people. The growing agricultural economy resulted in an increased demand for slave labor, and by 1860 more than 2,100 slaves lived in the county while its total population was but 3,454.

In 1861 the county's voters supported secession from the union by a vote of 136 to 8, and Confederate camps and posts were established around the county. The Civil War did not physically come to Matagorda, as no Union troops entered the county, but it did not remain untouched by the realities of war. Several white supremacist groups, such as the Klu Klux Klan and the White Man's Union Association, formed to protect white privilege by violently suppressing the black population of the area.

Though Union troops never entered Matagorda County during the war, the Union blockade of the Texas coast meant that foreign trade was restricted, greatly hampering the Matagorda economy that relied on the foreign cotton trade. Because of a serious decline in cotton production due to decreasing land values and the emancipation of slaves following the Civil War, Matagorda County's cotton production did not rebound until the 1870s and the overall economy and population growth grew slowly until the end of the 19th century.

In the last years of the 19th century Matagorda County saw an influx of people from other states and an expanding economy, as rice started to replace cotton and livestock. The Matagorda County Rice and Irrigation Company, founded in 1899, helped further rice as an important crop; rice made up 34 percent of the county's improved acreage. Railroad construction in the county also increased during the late 19th and early 20th century which encouraged development and growth of existing areas as well as contributed to the creation of new towns like Palacios.

The population of Matagorda County continued to grow throughout the 20th century as the area's economy diversified to include petroleum and other industries. Agriculture remained important well into the 1970s and the county was a leading producer of both cattle and rice. The growth and development of Matagorda County now falls under the purview of the Houston-Galveston Area Council, which now provides regional planning to the area. By 2000 Matagorda County had a population of just over 37,000, with half residing in Bay City. However, Palacios is home to approximately one-fifth of the county's residents with over 5,000 residents.

Palacios, City by the Sea

The town of Palacios is located in the southwest part of Matagorda County and derives its name from Tres Palacios Bay, on which it is located. The bay was named for Jose Feliz Trespalacios, who served as Spanish governor from 1822-1823. The land north and west of the bay-an area known as the "bull pasture," most likely because the owner, Abel "Shanghai" Pierce, was a cowboy who eventually began importing cattle from India-was purchased in 1901 by W.C. Moore of Houston for speculative development. Moore headed a group of land promoters who formed the Texas Rice Development Company (TRDC). The company subdivided the former bull pasture into 160-acre sized tracts. In 1902 a one-square-mile tract on the bay at Hamilton Point was sold to the Palacios City Townsite Company (PCTC), a subsidiary of the TRDC, for future development as town lots.

The town became known simply as Palacios to avoid confusion, as there was an existing post office nearby called Tres Palacios. The PCTC offered incentives, doubtless land in the form of town lots, to the Southern Pacific Railroad to extend its line to Palacios, which spurred the town's growth and development. The first train arrived in Palacios on June 29th, 1903. The company attracted settlers by boasting of the town's temperate coastal climate. Almost immediately, seafood and related businesses opened in Palacios, taking advantage of the town's prime location on Tres Palacios Bay, and these businesses continued to be important to the Palacios economy through the 1990s. In addition, the town leaders marketed Palacios as an ideal place for a variety of fruit orchards and farming. Cotton and rice became important products by 1910.

Hallmarks of town building emerged in the first years after the townsite was platted; in addition to residential construction, civic and commercial building began. The first church, a Methodist congregation, was organized in 1903; the first newspaper, now called the Palacios Beacon, started in 1906. Palacios residents voted to incorporate in 1909. By 1915, about 2,000 residents lived in Palacios, according to the PCTC.

Building Description

The Luther Hotel is located on Tres Palacios Bay in Palacios, Texas. It is a 2½ -story rectangular frame structure comprised of three distinct hip-roofed building volumes: a central volume and two long wings connected by hyphen-like 2-story sections. The central volume features a large porch with giant order classical columns, and each building volume contains dormer windows. The lobby is centrally located and contains a wood open staircase and reception desk. A mix of traditional and apartment-style hotel rooms fill the remainder of the hotel. The hotel's major (south) facade is parallel to the shoreline, and each of the south facade windows has a bay view. The hotel occupies an entire block on South Bay Boulevard between Fourth and Fifth Streets and is accessed via a palm tree-lined semicircular entrance drive off of South Bay Boulevard. Mature deciduous trees are clustered around the hotel. The lot also contains an 11-unit motor court on its west end, added to the Luther Hotel in 1941. Although the Luther Hotel has seen several alterations, most of which were necessitated by the region's hurricanes, it is in fair to good condition.

Matagorda County is located on the Gulf of Mexico in southeast Texas, approximately 50 miles southwest of Houston. The county is 1,612 square miles in size, and is comprised of flat coastal prairie. A narrow barrier island known as Matagorda Peninsula is located a short distance off the coastline of the county. The peninsula creates Matagorda Bay, which is divided into two distinct portions by the Colorado River channel: East Matagorda Bay, and Matagorda Bay proper, which is larger and extends north into an inland bay called Tres Palacios Bay. Tres Palacios Bay is located at the southwestern corner of the county, on the mouth of the Tres Palacios River. The town of Palacios occupies a point on a bend in Tres Palacios Bay. Central Palacios is a grid-like network of streets approximately one square mile in size, at the point. South Bay Boulevard runs along the coastline at the southern edge of town, and East Bay Boulevard runs along the coast on the eastern edge of town. The Luther Hotel occupies a large, flat block on South Bay Boulevard, directly across the street from the bay. One block north of the hotel is Commerce Street, the southernmost edge of historic downtown Palacios.

The hotel is approached from South Bay Boulevard, which runs along the shoreline of Tres Palacios Bay. The hotel's semi-circular drive has entrances at the southwest and southeast corners of the block, near the intersections of South Bay Boulevard and both Fourth and Fifth Streets. The drive curves toward its apex at the center of the block, where the hotel is located, and widens slightly to provide parking spaces in front of the hotel. Within the half-circle inscribed by the entrance drive are a flagpole and a small garden with a birdbath. A concrete path connects the two. The motor court, located along the western edge of the block, faces the entrance drive. Palm trees line the drive, and mature deciduous trees and shrubs are clustered around the hotel. The rest of the block contains a large flat lawn.

The major (south) facade of the hotel has a roughly symmetrical arrangement, although the fenestration of each of the two wings differs slightly. The central volume has five bays, with an AABAA arrangement. A central double-door entrance and four windows are on the first floor, and five windows are on the second floor. The central bay is wider than the others, with the entrance is placed slightly off-center within it. Here, as in the rest of the hotel, are double-hung, wood, 2/2 vertical sash windows. The front entrance consists of a pair of wood doors, each with two panels in the bottom and a rectangular window in the upper portion, topped by a single-light transom window. The transom has a wood exterior screen, and the entrance doors have wood screen doors with rectangular "panes" in their top halves and a lattice pattern in their lower halves. On the screen doors' horizontal mullions, the words LUTHER HOTEL are spelled out with wooden letters. The siding is wood, and window and door trim is made of unornamented, flat wood strips. The building rests on a brick pier-and-beam foundation.

Spanning the entire central volume of the hotel is a wide front porch supported by four giant order columns. The porch, which has a concrete floor, is not original, but was added during the historic period to replace the much longer front porch that originally spanned the entire building. The columns have smooth shafts with a slight entasis and simplified Tuscan capitals. The front edge of the porch roof serves as a fascia, and along the upper edge of the roof is a balustrade with square wooden balusters. In each of the three bays created by the four porch columns, the balustrade features a decorative spoke-like pattern. The upper half-story of the central volume consists of a hipped roof with gabled dormers: two on the front elevation, one on the rear, and one on each of the side elevations. The side dormers address those of the neighboring building volumes. Each of the dormers has a classical pediment return. The flat porch roof functions as a wide balcony for the penthouse, which is located in the upper half-story and has doors that lead from the two front dormers to the porch roof. Before the hotel had this two-story porch, these dormers contained windows like those found in the dormers elsewhere on the hotel. The dormers are clad in wood siding that matches the building, and the roof is covered in asphalt shingles.

The two wings are connected to the central building volume by two-story hyphen-like sections, each with a flat roof and three windows on each floor; two full-size double-hung windows and one small window. The small windows, which correspond to bathrooms within, are 2/2 double-hung to match the larger windows, and are found in numerous places on all facades of the hotel. They were added in the 1930s when individual guest baths were installed. Each of the two wings is approximately twice as long as the central volume, but has the same wood siding, 2/2 windows, flat window trim, and hipped roof pitch. On the first and second floors of the wings is a mixture of the larger and smaller window types. The windows create roughly six bays per wing on the front facade, but the fenestration is irregular and differs from one wing to the next. The upper half-stories of the wings, like the central volume, contain dormers: three on the front facade of each of the wings, two on the rear facades of each, and one on each of the sides. These dormers, however, differ from those of the central volume in that they are approximately twice as wide, are hip-roofed, and each contain three windows. One exception to this rule is the single dormer on the east elevation of the east wing, which is a smaller gabled dormer with two small windows and a broken pediment.

The rear elevation of the hotel is similar to the front, but with fewer dormers, as described, and without the large central porch. Metal fire escape stairs were added to each of the wings during the historic period. A small shed roof added in the 1950s shelters the concrete rear porch and rear double-door entrance, which is located in the center of the rear facade. A balustrade and wheelchair ramp have been added to the rear porch. Overall, very few alterations have been made to the exterior of the hotel, other than those necessitated by fire or hurricane damage (such as the removal of the original front porch) and by the addition of private guest baths (installation of numerous small windows on each facade). Exterior changes occurred mostly in the 1930s when Luther renovated the building.

Inside, many changes have occurred, but the general configuration of hallways and rooms has not changed. The front double doors enter into a small central lobby with an open staircase on its right (east) side. The staircase and landing have wood balustrades with turned balusters. Chair rail molding encircles the room and continues up the wall of the staircase, and simple molding trims the doors and windows. In the rear right-hand (northwest) corner of the lobby is a curved check-in desk from the 1930s. A partially-glazed door in the center of the west lobby wall leads to the west wing, and a stained glass-glazed door in the front of the east wall leads to a suite of rooms that was converted to an apartment in the 1940s. In the rear of the lobby, between the front desk and open staircase, is an open doorway capped by a decorative wooden screen with turned spindles and cut scrolls. Beyond this open doorway are a small rear foyer, the rear entrance doors, and partially-glazed double doors to the east wing. In each of the wings, rooms open off a central hallway. The hotel contains a mix of both traditional hotel rooms and apartment-style rooms. In the upper half-story of each wing are a small number of apartments, unused for decades and currently used as storage. Straight flights of stairs in each wing lead to the level above. On the second floor of the central volume are a few guest rooms, and in the upper half-story is the penthouse suite, a multi-room apartment. Throughout the hotel, cosmetic alterations such as carpet, wood paneling, drop-ceiling panels, and window dressings were added in the 1960s and 1970s, and have not been updated since then.

Motor Court Addition

The 11-unit motor court, added to the western edge of the block in 1941, is an Art Moderne style concrete building with a long, linear plan. It has a flat roof with parapet, a stuccoed exterior, and several simple stringcourses-two at cornice level, one just below window level, and one just above window level. On each corner of the front elevation is an additional decorative strip that wraps around the corner for several feet in each direction. Small round drain pipes in the parapet provide another decorative detail, with a group of three of the pipes located above each of the eleven units. Each unit also has at least one small vent with curved openwork near the bottom of the wall. The dwelling units are uniformly-sized, but differ slightly in appearance from one to the next. Each contains a narrow single garage opening, a single entrance door, and two 1/1 double-hung windows on the front facade. Three units, one on each end and one in the middle, have their windows and door arranged in an ABA pattern, while the rest of the units have their windows and door in an AAB pattern. Next to each window/door combination is a single garage, small by today's standards, without garage doors. Two of the units' garages have been enclosed. Each entrance door has a concrete stoop and a flat metal awning suspended from thin cables. A concrete path running parallel to the building provides access to each of the entry stoops. The side and rear elevations of the motor court contain windows. The motor court is vacant but is in fair condition.

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas First and second floor plans (2007)
First and second floor plans (2007)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Third floor plan (2007)
Third floor plan (2007)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Historic photo (1910)
Historic photo (1910)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Historic photo with porch intact (1910)
Historic photo with porch intact (1910)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Historic photo after renovation (1945)
Historic photo after renovation (1945)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Arial view (1970)
Arial view (1970)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Front entry (date unknown)
Front entry (date unknown)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Lobby stairs (date unknown)
Lobby stairs (date unknown)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Check-in desk (date unknown)
Check-in desk (date unknown)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Apartment style room (date unknown)
Apartment style room (date unknown)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas View toward motor court (date unknown)
View toward motor court (date unknown)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas South facade and front lawn (2007)
South facade and front lawn (2007)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas South facade and front lawn (2007)
South facade and front lawn (2007)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas South facade (2007)
South facade (2007)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas North and east facades (2007)
North and east facades (2007)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Motor courts and apartments, east facade (2007)
Motor courts and apartments, east facade (2007)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Pier, view from Luther Hotel (2007)
Pier, view from Luther Hotel (2007)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Luther Motor Court, northeast elevation (Tres Palacios Bay in background) (2007)
Luther Motor Court, northeast elevation (Tres Palacios Bay in background) (2007)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Luther Motor Court, north elevation (2007)
Luther Motor Court, north elevation (2007)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Luther Motor Court, southeast elevation (2007)
Luther Motor Court, southeast elevation (2007)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Luther Motor Court, detail, southernmost unit (2007)
Luther Motor Court, detail, southernmost unit (2007)

Luther Hotel, Palacios Texas Luther Motor Court, southwest (rear of building) (2007)
Luther Motor Court, southwest (rear of building) (2007)