Creating a New Beginning: The History of the LaSalle Hotel
The earliest record of the present LaSalle property dates back to 1866. It changed owners several times and was purchased in 1874 by Volney Cavitt. One of the only two-story structures in Bryan at the time, the LaSalle building was sold to Mr.Cavitt by F. W. McGraw for 2,500 gold coins under the contract of its being turned into a local business. In 1875 the first floor was rented to a local businessman while the second floor served as an Academy of Music. The Academy served as Bryan’s first theatre Center and opera house. The Academy was later converted into the hotel’s longstanding ballroom.
The Building was deeded to its namesake The LaSalle Properties, lnc. on November 18, 1927 by Robert Wistar Howell, a local businessman. The transformation ofthe building into a hotel began in 1928 under thecareful eye of architect George Louis Walling. At the time ofthe LaSalle Hotel’s original opening in 1929,Bryan was a prominent railroad stop between Houston and Dallas due to its agricultural significance. Salesmen and other travelers arriving at the West 28th Street Passenger Depot were frequently housed withinthe LaSalle’s original 100 guest rooms. Originally the city’s largest and best-known hostelry, the LaSalleHotel provided another valuable service other than just housing the city’s guests; it was a prominent featurein the social lives of many ofthe city’s inhabitants.
Although the third through seventh floors were dedicated to the service of the guests, local city-dwellers were served through the various other activities located on the first and second floors of the hotel. ln addition to the hotel offices, lobby, foyer and the front desk, the first floor originally included a coffee shop, valet room, kitchen and two rental business locations that faced out onto Main Street. The second floor housed the ballroom, gallery, beauty shop, dining room, main stairway and foyer, and service closets.
The LaSalle Hotel served as a hotel until 1959 when it was purchased by J.C. Jacques from the Howell family. The property functioned as a nursing home until it was sold by Mr. Jacques to his son in 1975. The property was then run again as a hotel until its closing in 1979.
The LaSalle remained vacant until 1984 when five Bryan women purchased the property with hopes for its renovation; they planned to reopen it in 1986. However, financial and legal woes abruptly halted their efforts. ln December of 1991 , developer Reid Monroe purchased the building with renovation plans to include a restaurant and apartments. Unfortunately, Mr. Monroe was killed in an accident before his plans could be realized. On October 27, 1997, The LaSalle Hotel Ltd. purchased the property from Mr. Monroe’s widow. Renovations began in May of 1999 and the LaSalle Hotel once again opened its doors to public use in September of 2000.
During the renovation process, great care was taken to preserve the original terrazzo tile floors on the first floor, as well as original windows. ln October of 2009, another renovation included updating the cafe', lobby, and guestrooms to a fresh, trend-setting look that will carry it well into the future. Due to the hotel’s significance to the City of Bryan and its downtown area in particular, it has been placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.