Home Page

COBWEB CORNERS: A mystery motel from the 1930s

By Mel McFarland

       Over the years, West Colorado Avenue has seen some pretty huge changes. I was reminded recently of a 1930s development, nearly a block long. If you are thinking Adams Crossing, it's not that far west, but there is a loose connection. See if you can guess the location.
       In the 1930s new businesses were changing the tourist industry. There had been "cottage camps" for the tourists dating back to before World War I, but this was a "purpose-built" motel. It was the first to actually use that name.
       When the project plan was announced in late 1938, it drew praise as well as protest. It sounds like it was pretty controversial!
       To make room for the motel, several "original" buildings would have to be torn down. One of the most well known of these (later to become the Bancroft Park cabin) had already been moved, but others thought the wrong building had been preserved. That is a story that has been told several times.
       One building demolished was thought to have been one of Colorado City's first houses, another among its first churches, Others were a store and saloon.

A 1960s-era postcard shows features of the motel discussed in the column when it was called the Capitol Motel.
Courtesy of Tonja and Gary Gross

       The instigator of this project was Isaac Rucker. His name does not ring any bells? Well, his project still stands, even though it has been completely remodeled. It was built to include 13 units and a home, as well as a "front office." Built of concrete block, each unit had two or three bedrooms, plus a bathroom. Many of the cottage camps had to share a common bathing and toilet building.
       So what block am I talking about? It's the 2600 block of West Colorado, on the north side - now a commercial center that features a popular restaurant. In the late 1930s, the "old-timers" thought the block deserved more respect than to be turned into a motel, but most people considered it Colorado City's most blighted stretch, and the construction has certainly aged well.
       We still have motels along Colorado. When I was a boy, my family lived in a motel at 3030 W. Colorado. That motel actually started as a cottage camp.
       Several older motels still exist west of there to Adams Crossing (Colorado Avenue at Columbia Road), but others have faded away.

Local historian Mel McFarland has been contributing his Cobweb Corners column to the Westside Pioneer since 2004.