Vanishing Texas Vernacular Architecture

Colorado City

When it was built in 1927, what was then called Hotel Colorado was the pride of Colorado City and emblematic of the economic boom of the time.  The 85-room hotel was constructed using the latest technology of the times including a structural concrete frame, fireproof materials, and “…high-speed elevators, steam heat, fans, and other conveniences” according to an article in the Dallas Morning News.  The building, designed by Dallas architects Young & Young and constructed by Churchill-Humphres Company, cost over $400,000.  An 800-seat theater, space for five stores adjoining the lobby, and 40-car parking garage completed the overall development.  At the same time, Colorado City built a $160,000 high school building “…to care for the large scholastic increase” and an 86-acre country club with golf courses and clubhouse.  The Colorado City Chamber of Commerce declared, “All of this development has paved the way for a year of real accomplishment that will securely place Colorado City among the foremost and strategic cities of West Texas”.

Originating as a ranger camp in 1877, Colorado City (then only Colorado) was called the “Mother City of West Texas”.  The Texas and Pacific Railway built a station in Colorado City in the early 1880s, which became a cattle-shipping center for ranchers as far away as Amarillo, San Angelo, and eastern New Mexico.  Great herds were held until rail cars were available.  After shipment, cowboys were free to enjoy the town’s amenities.  Between 1881 and 1884 its five saloons multiplied to twenty-eight, and other businesses showed the same growth.  The boom slowed after the 1885-86 drought and the population dropped from 6,000 in 1880 to 2,500 in 1890.

A second boom period started in 1900 following the influx of farmers followed by the development of local oil and gas resources in the 1920s.  Construction of the Col-Tex Refinery in 1924 gave an additional boost to the economy of Colorado City resulting a population of nearly 4,800 in 1930 served by 200 business.  Population peaked in 1955 at 6,774 forcing the need to build a new municipal water source - the Champion Creek Reservoir.  After the Col-Tex Refinery closed in 1969, Colorado City found other industries to support the community.  Population has remained fairly stable through the 1990s and 2000s.  Citizens of Colorado City have embraced a local Main Street revitalization program to preserve the remaining stock of commercial architecture from its heyday.

REFERENCES:  William R. Hunt, “COLORADO CITY, TX (MITCHELL COUNTY),” Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed March 14, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association;  “Banner Program is Outlined by Colorado Chamber…”, The Abilene Morning News, February 1, 1927, Page 4.

One Response

  1. Geek Goddess

    I used to go to Colorado City for meetings. Amoco had a small field office there. I recall that it was a place to stop,at the Dairy Queen, between Odessa and Fort Worth.

    May 1, 2022 at 10:03 am

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