Texas Over Time: “The Raleigh Building, Waco, TX”

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of Meta Slider’s that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

The Raleigh Building, Waco, TX

1910s Postcard, and Recent Photo by Geoff Hunt, The Texas Collection, Baylor University

The Raleigh Building at 801 Austin Avenue was originally “The Riggins,” conceived and funded by James Wyatt Riggins, a former mayor and businessman of the city of Waco.

Roy E. Lane was the building’s architect and it is styled in the Chicago (architecture) school.

It is in the National Register of Historic Places.

“The Riggins” opened to the public on August 1, 1914. The following year, this business venture caused J.W. Riggins to go bankrupt and lose his dream of owning and operating a first class hotel for the city.

Riggins projected the cost of his hotel would be about $300,000 but it ended up costing nearly $600,000. This included his life savings of over $200,000.

January 19, 1916, the Albert Pick Company of Chicago bought the Riggins for $350,000 and days later it became the Hotel Raleigh.

In its prime, it was one of the finest hotels in the southwest. In the 1940s it advertised that it had “250 completely modern guest rooms. Air-conditioned lobby, dining room, famous Purple Cow Coffee Shop. Most attractive hotel in Texas – $150,000 improvement program just completed.”

The facility stopped operating as a hotel in the early 1980s and remained vacant until its restoration and renovation in the middle of that decade.

The former Raleigh Hotel is now the Raleigh Building and is now a government facility that holds 300 employees who work for the State of Texas.

Works Cited:

“The Riggins Hotel.” Riggins, James Wyatt, Vertical File. The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

“The Hotel Raleigh.” General Postcard Collection. The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Text and Meta Sliders by Geoff Hunt

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