On July 18, 2020, the long-time owner of the 1903 Luther Hotel in Palacios, Jack Findley, passed away without a will. In mid-September of 2022, without any public listing, the Corpus Christi-based Ed Rachal Foundation contracted with his heirs to purchase the property with the provision that the sale would not be final until the Findley family demolishes the Luther Hotel.
Because of the building’s legal status as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, the Texas Historical Commission imposed the maximum 90-day demolition delay (set to expire on December 19th) to allow time for an alternative solution to be found. However, most of the citizens of Palacios and Texans statewide were not aware of the pending demolition of this Palacios icon until Preservation Texas’s advocacy alert went out on November 2nd, halfway through the demolition moratorium, announcing it as one of 2022’s Most Endangered Places.
Update from Palacios:
Palacios and neighboring communities have come together to support the “Save the Luther” campaign. Over 700 people have signed a petition while others have demonstrated outside the building. A group of concerned citizens has formed the Palacios Preservation Committee (PPC), members of which met with the Ed Rachal Foundation on December 5th to discuss an extension of the demolition deadline and to explore the possibility of saving the historic hotel.
Paul Altheide, President and CEO of the Ed Rachal Foundation, responded to the PPC’s request for an extension of the demolition delay by informing the group that the hotel would not be demolished before January 15, 2023, but would need to be demolished before March 2023 under the current contract with the sellers. In addition, Mr. Altheide explained that the Foundation has formed an Agri Research Organization for oyster research and plans to develop an oyster hatchery near the Palacios Pavilion. The Foundation wants to have control over what happens on the land surrounding the hatchery, including the Luther Hotel site, which is why they are buying it. The Foundation expects that the hatchery will bring lots of people to Palacios, who will need a place to stay. For this reason the Ed Rachal Foundation plans to build a new extended stay hotel on the property where the Luther currently sits.
The PPC believes that the goals of both parties could be met by revising the pro forma and reviewing data from expert advisors showing that a renovation can be cost effective and achieve the Foundation’s purposes without having to demolish a major landmark.