Swimming Pool

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.

The Budget Inn on Scott Avenue in Wichita Falls.

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.

Postcard depiction of the Capri Motor Hotel from its heyday.

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.”

The Budget Inn on Scott Avenue in Wichita Falls.

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.

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