The Luther Hotel, originally called the Bay View Hotel, preserves the fun, past memories by the Trespalacios Bay. Still guests coming to The Luther Hotel partake of the very same activities: boating and fishing. According to Galveston, South Padre Island & The Texas Gulf Coast by Alex Wukman, The Luther Hotel is the only Texas coast resort hotel still standing.
History of The Luther Hotel
The Bay View Hotel was originally located on the East Trespalacios Bay before being moved to South Bay Boulevard, a distance of one-half mile. The Luther Hotel was moved to be in close proximity to the new pavilion being built. Many prospective settlers were traveling to Palacios and the Bay View Hotel needed more space for travelers coming to the “winter resort.” Additions were made to the original structure as follows:
- Three-story east and west wings
- The “Longest Front Porch in Texas” of 300 feet, stretching along the south side as well as the sides.
- Dining room was added
- Separate kitchen and laundry building
It was renamed: Hotel Palacios.
Dining Experience in Early Days at The Luther Hotel
Around 1906 each room included the “American Plan,” entitling guests to an elegant meal served on silver, glass and Haviland china. While dinner and lunch were being served, diners enjoyed music by an orchestra. It is was not uncommon for Sunday afternoon concerts to occur; and sometimes guests enjoyed the Palacios Marine band while sitting on The Luther Hotel porch. The dining room was the social venue for many dance parties and banquests.
Introducing The Luthers
After various owners and managers of the hotel, Charles and Elsie Luther bought it in 1936. It took about four years to renovate and get the title “straight according to Texas law.” The Luthers made major renovations:
- Tore down the dining room and kitchen
- Dismantled the wrap-around 300-foot front porch
- Refinished the building interior and exterior
- Strengthened its structure
- Added new plumbing
- Added private baths to each room
- Enclosed breezeways between the central building and wings
- Converted some rooms into two- and three-room apartments, thereby providing housing for military families and soldiers at Camp Hulen
- Built 11-room tourist court on west side
The Luther Hotel Opening
The Luthers opened The Luther Hotel on April 20, 1941 on their 20th anniversary open house.
After surviving its first hurricane in 1942, The Luther Hotel middle section and east wing were destroyed by a fire in February 27, 1944. Repairs that were made upgraded the hotel to a “better-than-before” condition.
In 1965, the Texas Historical Commission designated The Luther Hotel as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. Guests to the hotel include notables such as Rita Hayworth, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Artie Shaw and Carole Landis.
After Elsie and Charles Luther died in 1987 and 1988, daughter Claire Joy Dilworth and husband James Colwell Dilworth III took over the day-to-day operation of The Luther Hotel. After her husband’s death in 1989, Claire Joy married Jack Findley in 1993. They owned The Luther Hotel together, until Claire Joy’s death in 2005. Today Jack welcomes guests to The Luther Hotel.
Since 2010 The Luther Hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places, a designation by the United States Department of the Interior. Guests from Canada and other parts of the country come to enjoy the mild winters in Palacios and dream of the yesteryears.
For more details or to make reservations, visit The Luther Hotel website.
The Luther Hotel
409 S. Bay Boulevard
Palacios, TX 77465
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