Historic Hotels Restored, Others Linger

By Fernando Del Valle

This Sept. 21, 2012 photo shows The Villa de Cortez hotel in Weslaco, Texas. The hotel stands as the model of a project that helped revitalize Weslaco’s downtown. (AP Photo/Valley Morning Star, Dina Arevalo)

When Patti Dittburner thinks about the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in San Benito, Texas, she envisions a project to revive that city’s decaying landmark to the glamour of its glory days more than 50 years ago.

“The light bulb blinks when I think about the Stonewall Jackson,” she said.

Then she remembers the mammoth project she and her husband, developer Larry Dittburner, undertook in 1998 to renovate the crumbling Cortez Hotel in the heart of Weslaco, their hometown.

“Then the light bulb goes off,” she said with a chuckle. “We were younger then.”

The Rio Grande Valley’s old hotels stood for decades as the social capitals of their communities before falling by the wayside. But they still capture the magic of an era when land barons courted northern businessmen who helped transform the region into one of the nation’s agricultural meccas.

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Posted by on Nov 1st, 2012 and filed under Feature Story. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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