THE LEWIS RAILROAD HOTEL IS A RECORDED TEXAS HISTORIC LANDMARK. THE HOTEL PROVIDED A SAFE HAVEN FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS AT A TIME WHEN PUBLIC FACILITIES, PRIVATE BUSINESSES AND NEIGHBORHOODS WERE STILL OFTEN SEGREGATED.
As a community, we have come a long way in restoring the historic Lewis Railroad Hotel in San Augustine, Texas. By the beginning of Summer 2018, three sides of the hotel are expected to be fully completed.
We need to raise $15,000 to restore the back of the hotel, which will complete the outside of the restoration 100%! Funds raised will be used to rebuild the rear floor, replace & paint all missing boards and rotting wood, and replace the windows - using the same process and strategy that was used for the front and two sides of the building.
Please visit SanAugustineLegacy.org to view BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS of the Lewis Railroad Hotel restoration project (click on Programs, Lewis Hotel, Photo Gallery). Also feel free to contact Linda Mathews at [email redacted] with any additional questions.
THE LEWIS RAILROAD HOTEL:
The Lewis Railroad Hotel is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. The following is the text from the marker: Following emancipation, African Americans struggled for equality, as public facilities, private businesses and neighborhoods were often segregated. When African Americans did find non-agricultural employment it was primarily for manual labor jobs and for railroads, including brakemen, porters, and construction. The railroad became important to east Texas and transported people, lumber from nearby mills, cotton, cattle, and crops from other states to ports like Houston, Galveston and Beaumont. The Lewis Railroad Hotel was built about 1870 by John Collins. The two-story frame structure is a modified I-house, built two rooms wide and one room deep, with a full-height entry porch, gable wall chimneys and a later rear addition. William Lewis purchased the home in 1903 from Mary Collins and lived there with his wife, Viney, and their family. The men in Lewis’ family were laborers, and the women were laundresses. To supplement his income as a mail carrier, William Lewis opened his home to African American boarders, especially men working on the railroad. The hotel became popular during the 1920s when railroad construction in east Texas increased. As the railroad declined, Lewis took in travelers seeking lodging, as accommodations remained segregated. The hotel became a social gathering place for African Americans. The hotel converted to apartments in the mid-20th century and continued as a private residence into the 1970s. After a period of vacancy and identification as an endangered property, the city of San Augustine acquired this significant resource for the benefit of the public and the preservation of an important chapter of history.
SAN AUGUSTINE LEGACY GROUP:
In the spring of 2017, San Augustine Legacy Group was formed as a new 501(c)3 nonprofit to raise funds for several initiatives, with the Lewis Railroad Hotel being its first restoration project. The organization is dedicated to preservation, restoration, neighborhood renewal, educational enrichment, and economic development. We believe wholeheartedly in the power of justice, reconciliation, and diversity as we strive to build healthy, empowered, sustainable communities.