When walking through the old West Hotel in the 100 block of Houston Street in George West, it felt like I was going back in time in a sense. However, it is the possibilities for the future and not the past that are exciting to those who would like to restore the old building to a new grandeur.
Built more than a century ago in 1916 – a year before America’s entry into World War I (then known as “the War to End All Wars”) and the year Woodrow Wilson was re-elected President of the United States, the old hotel was once a centerpiece of downtown George West. Some visionary community members are hoping that it can be again.
There’s no doubt that it will take a lot of planning, funding and effort to make it happen but old buildings like this are a treasure that ought to be preserved.
Seeing the old registration desk, a seemingly ancient bank safe and all the old rooms in the hotel offered plenty of insight into what a grand old establishment this building once was.
Because time and the elements have been hard on the building, many of the windows are open to the air and the restoration process may require quite a few donations or a large grant ... unless some benefactor or entrepreneur steps forward with the means and the will to turn the hotel into the community showcase it can be.
With George West being centrally located between San Antonio and Corpus Christi, right on U.S. Highways 281 and 59 and not far from Interstate 37, there is definitely an opportunity to make this a destination.
That will involve restoration, and it can be a slow and painstaking process, but the rewards can be well worth the effort.
There are many other communities (Cuero and Goliad immediately come to mind) that have taken old buildings and turned them into inspiring works of art, important venues and successful businesses.
It would be all too easy to conclude that transforming the West Hotel – and downtown George West with it – is too daunting of a task, but not saving that stately old structure would be a big loss to the community.
Hopefully, leadership, innovation and capital will come through to make this potential revitalization project a reality, blending an elegant past with an exciting future.