Once popular motel may have a date with demolition
A once posh motel on East Scott Avenue is about to be wrecked.
On Tuesday, Wichita Falls City Councilors will hold a hearing to determine the fate of several derelict properties, including the former Capri Motor Hotel at 914 East Scott.
It opened in 1953 and was built by a retired local railroad engineer, CW Rowland and partners. It had 32 carpeted rooms, year-round air conditioning, a swimming pool and television.
The Capri opened at a time when rail passenger services were beginning to decline, jet travel was not yet born, and Americans were taking high-performance cars onto the freeways.
Scott Avenue was the main thoroughfare through Wichita Falls, carrying thousands of vehicles past downtown businesses. Many motels were built along the highway. Motorists could choose from Capri, Dixie Courts, Lone Star Cabins, Old Mills Courts, Catalina, Triple D Motel, Town & Country Motel, Imperial Motel, Tex Motel, Belmont Courts and others.
In addition to offering overnight accommodation, the Capri became a social center.
In September 1953, a prominent family threw a party for their college daughter at the Capri, offering “a morning swim, an afternoon of bridge, and a lunch served on the poolside terrace.”
In 1954 the newly hired advertising director for the Daily Times and Record News settled his family in the Capri while they looked for a new home. Poolside birthday parties at the Capri for children were the order of the day.
But almost immediately after the Capri was built, the seeds of its downfall were sown. By 1954, citizen leaders planned the “Red River Expressway System” to divert freeway traffic from Scott Avenue to one-way streets created from Holliday and Broad streets. The project was inaugurated on November 15, 1958, and with some government money and a few bond elections completed over the next few years.
East Scott Avenue was slowly declining, with many businesses moving out or closing. The Capri and other motels that once welcomed traveling families on East Scott Avenue gradually became low-rent motels, and most disappeared entirely.
Until 1972, the Capri offered rooms for $24 a week, with linens changed every four days.
Police calls became common. Eventually the name changed to the Budget Inn. And then it was abandoned somewhere along the line. The water supply was shut down in 2012.
City officials believe it has become a dangerous structure, inhabited by vagrants and attacked by vandals. The roof is collapsing and the walls have holes. The old motel is full of trash, mold and standing water.
The property has changed hands several times and is now owned by a Fort Worth man who owes nearly $3,000 in back taxes. The estimated value of the 13,000 square foot lot on 1.2 acres is only $18,000.
Owners of demolished properties on the list have been served by enforcement of the code and can show up at Tuesday’s meeting to arrange the demolition or have the city do it at the owners’ expense.