Ever Wonder What That Big Abandoned Building in Downtown Amarillo Used To Be?
Amarillo is a living history book. The city is smack dab on the Mother Road of Route 66 in what used to be the Wild West. When you poke around in our history, you'll find that there's a couple of names that frequently pop up in the books. One of these is a gentleman named Cornelius Taylor Herring who left his mark downtown and in a very big way.
The Herring Hotel
You may have passed it a million times while driving downtown, or you may be new to town, like I am. Either way, chances are you've seen the beautiful Herring Hotel. The beautiful aging brick tower sits unoccupied on 3rd and Pearce streets. It's a grand building with a few boarded up windows and is under tight lock and key thanks to the police department next door.
The building stands as a reminder of Amarillo's early days as a cattle and oil town and it tells the stories well. Some locals even say that the building is haunted. But I'll say this: even in old photos the mezzanine looked like it was amazing.
Cornelius Herring and his grand hotel
Let's start at the beginning. The Herring Hotel finished construction in 1927 after two years and a $1 million dollar price tag (that's a whopping $14 million today!). At the time, it was the tallest building in Amarillo with 14 floors and carried the honor of being one of three buildings that were built during the Panhandle's oil boom. The owner, Cornelius Herring, wanted a place where business could get done in town with style and flair. And that's exactly what he made sure he got. The basement was home to the famous "Old Tascosa Room" which was lined with pinewood walls and murals by H.D Bugbee--a local artist who's works are still on display at the Panhandle Plains Museum today. Much of the early wheeling-and-dealing that helped make Amarillo what it is today was done inside the Herring Hotel's walls.
Eventually all good things come to an end. The Herring Hotel closed in 1966 and, like many older structures, got repurposed. In the 1970's, the hotel was converted to an office space to be used by the government. This lasted only a few years before it was again left vacant and unused in 1978. Some of the photos show this wonderful building has potential still.
The Herring Hotel Today
The building has been owned by Robert Goodrich since 1988. Don't bother trying to get in, the Amarillo Police Department sits right next door and happily keep an eye on the historic building. However, there is the opportunity to take a tour. You can check out the Facebook page dedicated to its preservation.
Honestly, it would be cool to see the Herring Hotel brought back to life. With all the revitalization going on downtown, why not? Its location is a convenient walking distance to the civic center and the Globe Center for Performing Arts. In my opinion, it would make a great showcase for the city and help bring more reasons to visit downtown.