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 Texas : Architecture : Rooms with a Past :
"Rooms with a Past"

HOTEL McCARTNEY
A Look Inside Texarkana's Ten-Story Ghost

Texarkana Police Lend TE Photographers a Helping Hand

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Texarkana Hotels

Hotel McCartney skylight, Texarkana, Texas
Skylight above the Atrium-style lobby.

Photo by Grant Gildon
Introduction:

This was just the latest in a string of good deeds performed by Ken and Yvonne Rudine for our readers - a long string that stretches from Marfa's courthouse Lights to the sun-baked strand of Aransas. And you know what they say about good deeds - nary a one goes unpunished. This is their story.

The Rudines recently left their beloved Texas for a trip north. Being fans of coastal environs, the Rudines decided to do a lighthouse inventory. Their destination was Lake Michigan and their quest was to verify that forty-four of the famous lighthouses arranged around the shores of that lake were exactly where the state said they would be in their promotional literature. That part of their trip can only be described as a huge success.

On their trip, Ken kept in electronic touch with "the home office." This wasn't as easy as it sounds. Contact was spotty and at times Ken had to resort to innovative ways to connect to the internet - some of which involved climbing to the tops of grain elevators or attaching jumper cables to barbed wire fences. When he did connect - he asked if we needed any East Texas photos since they would be returning that way.

Just two days previously, reader (now contributor) Jimmy Ramsey had made us aware of Texarkana's former Hotel McCartney. Being fresh in our memory, and with the Rudines passing within feet of the building - we asked if they wouldn't mind taking a brief detour down State Line Avenue for some detailed photos of the hotel to complement those furnished by Mr. Ramsey. The best we hoped for were some shots of the interior taken through a ground-floor window (if there were any left).

Ken's reply to our request was (as it has always been) both affirmative and enthusiastic. Having not seen the building ourselves - we gave the only two facts we knew at that time - that it was Texarkana's tallest building and it was across from the old Union Station building. One might assume every newsboy, bus driver and desk clerk on either side of the State Line would be able to steer visitors to the McCartney - closed or not. But newsboys are extinct and bus driver endangered, so the Rudines enlisted the help of their helpful hotel manager. That's where it all began...
Hotel McCartney, Texarkana, Texas
Hotel McCartney
Westside at Main & Front

Photo by Ken Rudine
Hotel McCartney fire escapes, Texarkana, Texas
The fire escape.

Photo by Ken Rudine

The Adventure in Ken's words:

"This was quite an amusing assignment which started at the Super 8 Motel and Maxine Macool the manager. We asked about the hotel by the name of McCartney - ten stories tall, and the tallest building in town. The response was "No such thing here and I've lived here for 31 years." I added that it was supposed to be across from the Union Station.

Maxine: "Let me call my "special 911" number and find out about this." "Hello (friend), is there such.... "No, nothing like that here" she relayed her friend's answer. A minute later the friend calls Maxine back and says, "Hell, I'm looking at it through this police station window. It's right behind our building."

Yvonne and I hop into our car as the clock is approaching 5pm. We head down Texas street to Broad street and then right on Main street to Front street - and there it is - "big as life and twice as ugly." It was totally boarded up except for two windows and padlocked except for one door.

Texarkana police cars
3 of the 5 police cars that answered the suspicious activity call.

Photo by Ken Rudine

As I looked for a photo opportunity - I completed one CCW revolution and the police cars started rolling up. Y. was lounging in the car eating Nestle's chocolate bars (to keep them from melting in the 95-degree heat), but when she saw the other "heat" arriving with backup upon backup she hesitated in her task - thinking she might make a run for it. While the police response was nearly "textbook" - they had failed to block her door and she was considering making a run for it.

I walked over to the officers and said "Howdy, I'm Ken Rudine on assignment for Texas Escapes Online Magazine." That was met by a wall of blank stares. As an opener - I might've done better. Well, anyhow we got past that first hurdle and I explained that there were people (somewhere) interested in this old hotel - even if some Texarkanans deny its existence.

Since the exterior was the pits (a technical architectural term - Ed.) and there wasn't so much as a cornerstone to photograph, I realized this was a hard point to prove so I told them of the "alleged" Art Deco interior AND how the building was listed with the state as Historical and that what we were hoping to accomplish was to spark an interest toward preservation of this - one of Texarkana's landmarks - which was (incidentally) the tallest building in the city and could they help us ignite this spark by not arresting us? After discussing the situation, they decided that since they were already there - that a search of the building might prove to be good training - they graciously offered to take some interior photographs (with my camera).

I told my story with passion and (at least) I believed every word. I'd check with the editor later to see how far from the truth was it. The officers were very nice and only looked at my drivers license (and probably ran some kind of check) but never cuffed me. I think it was because Texas Escapes is so well known. Maybe it was the "Top Secret" clearance that I once held in the Air Force during the Korean War.

McCartney Hotel Interior >
Photos by Officer Grant Gildon
Officer Tommy McElhiney (the wife of a Lieutenant on the force) thought our mission worthy enough to lend a hand. She accompanied Officer Grant Gildon, who, using my camera, took the interior photos. Sergeant Mike Harris secured the perimeter and assisted in crowd control. Their help was invaluable and without it - you wouldn't be seeing the photos presented here.
Hotel McCartney garage, Texarkana, Texas
The Hotel Garage

Photo by Ken Rudine
Hotel McCartney marquee, Texarkana, Texas
"Marquee de Sad"

Photo by Ken Rudine
Hotel McCartney window detail, Texarkana, Texas
Window detail.

Photo by Ken Rudine
Hotel McCartney architecural detail,  Texarkana, Texas
Window base decor.

Photo by Ken Rudine
After spending the night in a comfortable bed instead of a jail cell, we bid adieu to Texarkana and didn't see any need to pass the McCartney as we left. Having saved all the chocolates from the Texas heat - our priorities had now shifted to lunch in Lufkin at Ralph & Kacoos. We had heard that their stuffed shrimp are fantastic." - Ken Rudine, June 23, 2005

McCartney Hotel Interior next page
Forum:
Texarkana McCartney Hotel Limousine Rides to School

I went online to find a hotel in Texarkana, as I am heading there Friday to celebrate my father's ninetieth birthday. In my search results, I was amazed to find the McCartney hotel, which led me to your site and the amusing article accompanying the photos of this formerly beautiful building. My mother worked at the McCartney Hotel for about seven years when I was a little girl. This would have been something like 1960 to 1967. I spent lots of nights (mother worked 11PM to 7AM) roaming the halls of the McCartney and sleeping in the rooms. It was truly a beautiful, glorious place. I especially remember the ballroom. I think it was on the second floor; the walls were mirrored and there was a fabulous chandelier.

The men who worked as bellhops would take me across the street to the coffee shop, and sometimes one of them would drive me to school in the hotel's limousine. Mr. McCartney loved my mother and was good to my family. Well, of course I could go on, but I'll just say thank you for the photos. It's very sad to see the state of disrepair. This has brought back many happy memories for me. Although I'm an Arkansan, I have lived and worked in Texas at various times in my life and have great fondness for all things Texan. I'll remember to check out your [magazine] often. Thanks for the memories. - Robin Ward, Little Rock, Arkansas, October 24, 2006

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July 6 , 2005
See
Texarkana's McCartney Hotel
by James Ramsey
Texarkana, Texas
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