Arts History Update for early August 2013

20 Jul

Arts History Update for early August 2013 by David Cummins

At DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University there is a digitized collection Texas: Photographs, Manuscripts and Imprints that includes a postcard photograph of a two-story Merrill Hotel in 1920s Lubbock Texas In Lomer Nelson’s 1979 oral history interview he mentions both the Nicolett Hotel and the Merrill Hotel; Texas Tech Library Southwest Collection Oral History Collection. I had not previously known about the Merrill Hotel. In doing a bit of research Will “Papa” Sedberry, a Black man, moved with his family to Lubbock in 1922 and he became the chief cook at the Merrill Hotel. The Rotary Club of Lubbock was chartered on February 21, 1921 at a meeting at the Merrill Hotel.

The Nicolett Hotel was originally a two story wood frame structure in Old Lubbock (north town section 20 block A, i.e. north of Yellow House Canyon) prior to the town’s merger with Monterey (south town section 7 block A) in 1891 to found Lubbock at a nearby third and neutral site, and was physically moved [literally torn down, carted and rebuilt] to Lubbock to become its first hotel. It was owned by Frank Wheelock who brought in George M. Hunt to manage the hotel. Old Lubbock is essentially the site of the current Lubbock Industrial Park east of Lubbock Country Club. The site of Monterey is essentially 4th Street and University Avenue. The site of Lubbock in 1891 is essentially Broadway Street and Texas Avenue, the current downtown. George Singer moved his original store [initially at current Lubbock Lake Landmark] to Lubbock in 1891. Paul H. Carlson, The Nicolett Hotel and the Founding of Lubbock, Wst texas Historical Review vol. 90 page 8 (2014)

I had thought Old Lubbock was called Estacado before the merger but Donald Abbe corrected that impression. Estacado was founded in 1879 by English Quakers led by Isaac Paris Cox, a buffalo hunter, and first named Marietta in honor of Isaac’s wife Mary Cox. The community was renamed Estacado in 1886 but by 1893 it had disintegrated. Estacado was very close to or straddling the Crosby County line and not centrally located in the newly demarcated Lubbock County so Old Lubbock and thereafter Monterey were founded at the center of the new county. At the same time Emma was chosen as a more central Crosby County location for its county seat. This was dispiriting for the Estacado settlement because it had built a frame building to serve as a county courthouse and indeed that building was moved to Emma when it was chosen as the county seat. Estacado Cemetery remains, south of the Estacado community on County Road 3900. Here is the layout of the cemetery and graves and some history of the place

To get there go east on US Highway 62/82 from Lubbock past Idalou but not so far as Lorenzo and turn north on North Farm to Market Road 789 for about seven miles then turn east on Farm to Market Road 1527 for two miles.

There is nothing present in Estacado that relates to the period of its founding. A shuttered cinder block Baptist Churchand an operating cotton gin, the Medlock Estacado Gin, and six nearby residences appearamidst prosperous farming. A historical marker was erected in 1936 for the site of Estacado. Abbe reports that George M. Hunt was managing a small hotel at Estacado when Frank Wheelock lured him away to come to Old Lubbock/North Town and manage the Nicolett Hotel. Lorenzo is in Crosby County.

By 1909 the Nicolett Hotel was owned by Mrs. Mollie D. Abernathy. An annex on South Singer Street was acquired by Van Sanders and Mr. Harden and reopened as Clyde Hotel and Cafe. Mollie and her husband James Jarrott arrived in Lubbock in 1901 but her husband was shot and killed the next year during a land development dispute and she remarried Monroe Abernathy in 1905 and remained active in real estate. Here is an article by attorney Chuck Lanehart about the murder

In 1909 the Santa Fe Railroad was extended south from Plainview to Lubbock and the future of the town was established. Slaton became a major station on the Amarillo to Sweetwater line in 1911.

Fort Worth and Denver South Plains Railway extended to Lubbock in 1928, its successor being Burlington Northern.

Sixty-four miles of unused right of way was re-opened in the 1990s as Caprock Canyons State Park Trailway System from Estelline in the rolling plains at U.S. Highway 287 to South Plains in the high plains on the Caprock north of Floydada on Texas Highway 207. The Fort Worth and Denver South Plains Railway Lubbock depot is the western portion of the current Buddy Holly Center at Crickets Avenue and 19th Street and that depot is the namesake for the city’s Depot Entertainment District.

In 1912 plans were announced for the Nicolett Hotel’s two story brick-faced replacement. I had thought the Nicolett Hotel as a brick structure was later renamed Broadway Hotel. Abbe reports that it competed with the newer and larger hotels including the Broadway Hotel and gradually morphed into a boarding house. The older wood-framed hotel was painted by Bess Hubbard in 1948. It is that image that most of us recall when we think of the Nicolett Hotel. Why was it called the Nicolett? Because Frank Wheelock had been in Minneapolis Minnesota and stayed in the Nicollet Hotel there. Spelling in those days was a moveable feast. We needn’t be fussy about it. George C. Wolffarth was a Lubbock pioneer rancher from the late 1880s and Wolffarth Elementary School at 3202 Erskine Street is named for him. But southwest of town a new municipality grew and he was honored by its name spelled Wolfforth in 1916.,_TX

Abbe reports that the Merrill Hotel was built about 1915 as a two story masonry building at Main Street and Texas Avenue and was demolished in 1930 to make way for the new Hilton Hotel at that location. Both Donald and Sally Abbe are on the Lubbock County Historical Commission.

Lubbock Hotel was built in 1925 as a six story structure, later added five stories, was renamed Pioneer Hotel, and is currently being redeveloped into Pioneer Hotel Condominiums by McDougal Companies.

Conrad Hilton 1887 – 1979 purchased existing hotels beginning in 1919 in Cisco (Mobley Hotel) until 1925 when he built the Dallas Hilton Hotel followed by other Hilton Hotels in Abilene (1927), Waco (1928), San Angelo (1928, still in operation as the fourteen story Cactus Hotel), Plainview (1929, eight stories), El Paso (1930) and Lubbock (1930, twelve stories 200 rooms Main Street and Texas Avenue northwest corner). The latter was sold in 1952 to the Alsonett Hotel chain and renamed Caprock Hotel. Not sure when it was razed. San Antonio, New Mexico Territory was an unincorporated village on the Rio Grande when Conrad Hilton was born there. His father managed the Harvey House in San Antonio and young Conrad learned the hotel trade.,_New_Mexico His schooling was at New Mexico Military Institute, Santa Fe University of Art & Design, and New Mexico Tech.

Many of these hotels are viewable in Lubbock and the South Plains: An Illustrated History by Paul H. Carlson, Donald R. Abbe and David J. Murrah (Windsor Publications 1989, 2d ed. Preferred Marketing 1995) Lubbock Public Library 976.4847 A124L in reference section Texas Tech Library F392.L8 A23

or in

Nancy Brooker Bronwell, Lubbock: A Pictorial History (Donning Co. 1980) [caution: captions are inconsistent so this is a pictorial

but undocumented history] F394.L9 B76

or in

A Pictorial History of Lubbock, Texas, 1880 – 1950 (eds. William C. Griggs et al., Lubbock County Historical Commission 1976) Lubbock Public Library R976.406 G857.

The United States Post Office and Courthouse (1932) at 800 Broadway Street is now owned by Lubbock County and is offered for sale in hopes that a buyer will use the 20% of renovation costs federal income tax credit, and restore while re-purposing the structure.

The first Lubbock County Courthouse 1891 – 1916 [wood frame] was replaced with the second 1915 – 1968 (stone classical revival style) that continued to be used as an eastern adjunct to the third courthouse 1950 – the present, with a 1968 addition replacing the second courthouse structure.

It’s also interesting to trace the history of hospitals. The first Lubbock Sanitarium (1912) was built by Dr. M.C. Overton and operated by Dr. Clayton until 1920 when it was renovated to become the Saint Francis Hotel with Clark Smith as hotel manager. That building was razed after the May 11, 1970 Lubbock tornado.

The second Lubbock Sanitarium (1918) at Broadway Street and Avenue L opened with 25 beds, was renamed Lubbock General Hospital in 1941 then Lubbock Memorial Hospital in 1945 and ultimately demolished and replaced by Dunlaps department store that was later renovated to become First Federal Savings & Loan Association and is currently an office building for several entities. This Lubbock Sanitarium was the predecessor of Methodist Hospital that opened in 1954 on 19th Street and is a part of the current Covenant Health System.

In 1923 Lubbock was awarded by the State of Texas with Texas Technological College and it opened in 1925 with six buildings, bounded by College Avenue on the East, 6th Street on the north, Flint Avenue on the west and 19th Street on the south. Lubbock citizens had earlier competed for West Texas State Normal College, which was awarded in 1909 to Canyon Texas, a community of 1,400 people in the central part of the Panhandle.

Plains Hospital and Clinic was founded in 1937 as a ten bed facility and was named St Mary of the Plains Hospital in 1939 when it was purchased by the Sisters of St Joseph of Orange, which moved it in the 1960s from its initial 2605 19th Street location to the present site of Covenant Medical Center – Lakeside. The merger of St Mary of the Plains Hospital and Lubbock Methodist Hospital System created Covenant Health System with its constituent hospitals.

West Texas Hospital (1922) was built at Main Street and Avenue L. It was demolished and replaced by another West Texas Hospital in the 1950s that was converted to offices and classrooms in the 1990s. Adjacent to it was built Llano Specialty Hospital with 30 beds at 1409 9th Street.

Current hospitals in Lubbock include:

Concord Medical Group Inc Lubbock
Covenant Childrens Hospital Lubbock
Covenant Health System Lubbock
Covenant Medical Center Lubbock
Covenant Specialty Hospital Lubbock
Covenant Women’s and Children’s Hospital Lubbock
Grace Medical Center Grace Clinic Lubbock
Llano Specialty Hospital Lubbock
Lubbock Heart Hospital Lubbock
Sunrise Canyon Hospital Lubbock
Texas Specialty Hospital at Lubbock Lubbock
Texas Tech Univ Health Sciences Center Center, School of Medicine Lubbock
TrustPoint Hospital Lubbock
University Medical Center

Concord Medical Group is not itself a hospital but supplies independent contractor physicians to rural hospitals including Castro County and Bailey County Hospital Districts in Dimmit and Muleshoe. TrustPoint Hospital and Texas Specialty Hospital are adjacent at 4302 Princeton Street south of Clovis Highway and east of North Quaker Avenue. Grace Clinic is at 4515 Marsha Sharp Freeway while Grace Medical Center is located at 2412 50th Street, the former Highland Hospital. Sunrise Canyon Hospital is a mental health and substance abuse specialty hospital.

Joseph Alvin Chatman, M.D. came to Lubbock in 1939 and in 1945 became the founder and owner of Chatman Hospital at 2301 Cedar Avenue east of Avenue A at 23rd Street. Remember When? A History of African Americans in Lubbock, Texas (ed. Katie Parks, PrinTech at Texas Tech University 1999). It is now operated as Chatman Community Health Center by Lubbock County Hospital District as an adjunct facility within the UMC Health System.

Plains Funeral Home on Broadway Street was renovated to become the current Lubbock Women’s Club.

Lubbock Leader newspaper began in 1891 but was moved to Plainview in 1899. Lubbock Avalanche began in 1900. Plains Agricultural Journal began in 1922 and became the Lubbock Daily Journal which absorbed the Lubbock Avalanche to become the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in 1926. Morris Communications of Augusta Georgia purchased both Amarillo Globe-News and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in 1972.

There are many other brief histories of Lubbock, and it must be said that details will not jibe in all accounts. You choose what you wish to accept without checking it out, and what you will expend effort to check out.


The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization at Texas Tech University has announced its speaker series for Fall semester 2013. All these events are free to the public. The offices of the Institute are in the Honors College in McClellan Hall east of the Student Union Building. Escondido Theatre is in the basement of the Student Union Building. At the website there is an invitation for people to contact the Institute and if you do so you will be on its mailing list for notification of speakers and other events.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: