Blackstone Hotel – 601 Main Street

601 Main Street [NR/CFW/Sky(NR)], Blackstone Hotel, 1929; 1952-53.  One of Fort Worth’s great hotels from the boom years of the 1920s, the Blackstone Hotel’s stepped and spired silhouette has been a prominent part of the city’s skyline since 1929.  Designed by the nationally known firm of Mauran, Russell, and Crowell in association with Fort Worth architect Elmer G. Withers, the hotel was called the Blue Bonnet Hotel while it was under construction by the contracting firm of Bellows and Maclay.  The name of the $1 million structure was changed to Blackstone Hotel shortly after it opened in 1929.  During its heyday, the Blackstone played an important role in Fort Worth.  Several presidents and entertainers visited here, including Herbert Hoover, Richard M. Nixon, Clark Gable, and Bob Hope.  Bob Wills, the legendary western band leader first recorded his classic hit “San Antonio Rose” in the WBAP radio station studio located on Blackstone’s twenty-second floor.  One of Wills’ best-known groups, the Light Crust Doughboys, broadcast regularly from the WBAP studios during the early 1930s.

Hilton Hotel Corporation assumed management of the Blackstone in 1952 and changed the name to the Hilton Hotel.  Shortly thereafter, Hilton remodeled the ground floor façade and lobby, and constructed an addition to the south of the main building.  Hilton ended its agreement to manage the property in 1962, and the hotel once again became Blackstone Hotel.  Several different firms managed the Blackstone through the next three decades, but it never regained the popularity of its early years.  Twice, in 1964 and 1986, the property was sold on the steps of the Tarrant County Courthouse at foreclosure auctions. In 1991 the building was vacant, with plans for its renovation still uncertain.

The Blackstone Hotel is Fort Worth’s only true stepped-back ziggurat skyscraper.  Constructed of reinforced concrete and buff colored brick with terra cotta ornamentation, the hotel’s design combines an Art Deco form with more traditional Gothic Revival and quasi-Italianate detailing.  Although most of its 284 guest rooms were fairly small, the eight luxury suites on the fifteenth and eighteenth floors opened onto open-air patio terraces.  Both the ground floor façade and the building interior have been significantly altered, but the lobby’s ornate plaster ceiling remains under a covering installed during the 1952-53 remodeling.  The Blackstone Hotel was listed on the National Register in 1984 and is a City of Fort Worth Landmark.  It is also a contributor to the proposed Downtown Skyscraper National Register Thematic Group.

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