Title: Historic Dallas Hotels Book Review
Author: Jackie McElhaney
Publisher: Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas
If you stop and think about it, we are all capable of time travel when we pick up a book which brings the past to life using photographs and other illustrations that speak across decades, and even centuries. Historic Dallas Hotels provides just such a trip, as author Sam Childers takes us from the Crutchfield House (Dallas's first true hotel) to the vote for the to be- completed Omni Dallas Hotels & Resorts, with a myriad of hotels and their stories in between. Using photographs, postcards, and other primary sources to illustrate the subject, Childers has found gold, including a treasure of never before seen images from The Adolphus Archives. Those archives would be a rich source for a book about the Adolphus Hotel, which will celebrate its centennial in 2012. Childers' book is filled with delightful images and informative captions relating lesser known facts about Dallas hotels that eventually closed or fell victim to fire or the wrecking ball. For example, President Theodore Roosevelt stayed at the Oriental Hotel in 1905 and President William Howard Taft followed him there in 1909 while visiting Dallas. During the 1930s, Lawrence Welk and a four-piece band entertained diners at lunchtime in the Baker Hotel basement cafeteria. For the 1959 Neiman Marcus South American Fortnight, a llama named Linda Lee was housed in a special suite at the Statler Hilton, which was down the street from Neimans. Childers has the picture to prove it. Dallas profited from the dreams of a number of ambitious men who believed the city was ready for their particular hotel. Adolphus Busch of St. Louis built the Adolphus Hotel on the site of the 1888 Dallas City Hall, which city fathers agreed to tear down to accommodate Busch's wishes to locate a new hotel across from the Oriental Hotel. (A new Beaux-Arts City Hall was then built on Harwood between Main and Commerce.) Busch's modern counterpart was Conrad Hilton, who arrived in Dallas in 1925 and built the first high-rise hotel of his career and the first to bear his name at the corner of Main and Harwood. Downtown hotels were woven into the social fabric of the twentieth century by such 'events as the 1916 completion of Union Terminal, which funneled arriving railroad passengers- many of whom needed lodging into the heart of the city. Then the Texas Centennial in 1936 created a heavy demand for rooms as visitors from around the world converged on Dallas. And who can forget the unbroken string of Texas-Oklahoma football weekends that filled Commerce Street and its hotels every fall? Outside the city center, apartment hotels such as the Stoneleigh Court, Melrose Court [now Hotel], The Highlander, Cliff Towers, and Maple Terrace offered more home-like amenities in apartments that were attractive to local citizens, visiting entertainers, and politicians. The 1950s brought the growth of tourist courts and motels as post-World War II Americans began to take driving vacations again. An entire chapter is devoted to the roadside lodging available in and around Dallas. The resurgence of new downtown hotels in the last sixty years is traced from the Sheraton in the 1950s to the Ritz-Carlton in 2007, along with the innovative revitalization of historic downtown office buildings into hotels such as The Joule and The Magnolia Hotel. If there is any flaw in this book, it lies with the publisher's editing of captions and layout of images, which can be confusing at times. A street map of downtown with hotel locations noted would have allowed the reader to see where each of the hotels mentioned was located in relationship to the others. Nevertheless, the author has done his research well and found fascinating information to share with the reader. If you would like to travel back in time to Dallas for a look at the amazing assortment of lodgings that have been available, look no further than Historic Dallas Hotels.