Texas

This Historic Gulf Coast Hotel Is Temporarily Out of Demolition

Just over a month ago, the demolition of a historic hotel on the Gulf Coast seemed inevitable. In fact, the destruction of the Luther Hotel is still not out of the question, but at least it won’t happen in January.

“A temporary restraining order has been placed on the demolition,” said Margaret Doughty, co-chair of the Palacios Preservation Association. “The city of Palacios has been informed that they were unable to issue a building permit for two weeks while injunctions were being prepared for the February 2 hearing.”

AND The Ed Rachal Foundation, a charity group, has been awarded a contract to buy the Luther Hotel on the terms of its demolition. The Foundation wants to build something new in its place, butThe Palace Preservation Association tried to convince the foundation to restore the building instead.

“And we want to make sure that we are very respectful of telling people, you know, if you’re going to change your mind, now is the time, and here are the reasons. Because once the building is destroyed, it will be too late,” Doughty said.

Last week, The National Trust for Historic Preservation intervened. The non-profit group sent a letter to the Ed Rachal Foundation, urging it to explore alternatives to demolition and offering its conservation services. The letter also stressed that the Army Corps of Engineers could withhold new permits if there were any future indications that the foundation had demolished the historic hotel to avoid conservation alternatives.

Built in 1903, the Luther Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has a Texas Historic Marker. The hotel has survived fires and hurricanes. People lived there during the wars. But basically it was a seaside center of culture and social life for both the locals of Palacios and tourists.

“We were very impressed with how many people came forward and signed the petition to save Luther,” Doughty said. “Locals, people from all over the country, people from all over the world, actually.”

Doughty says her team and several pro bono lawyers will make sure all t’s are crossed out and all i’s are dotted before demolition begins. But she still hopes that her group can help the Ed Rachal Foundation change its plans. She says the foundation has done a great job for the Palacios community and the best thing they can do, for both economic and cultural reasons, is to keep the Luther Hotel.

“Wouldn’t the headline they would like to see be ‘Ed Rachal Foundation Saves the Luther Hotel’?” Doughty said.

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