WITH A PAST
- TEXAS HOTELS BUILT BEFORE 1950:
from the book
Wood Derricks, Iron Men and Gold Women
by Don Champion
Gholson Hotel is a five-story, fireproof hotel on the Main Street
of Ranger, built in 1921 for $400,000
and sold years later for $10,000. It is still an apartment hotel,
catering to the retired.
The Gholson was the scene of many oil deals taking place during the
oil boom, and scores of the famous and the infamous were found around
the hotel lobby.
Photo courtesy Mike Price, 2007
memories of the Gholson start in 1923, about the time that the oil
boom began to wane, however the lobby and the café were still crowded
night and day as well as along the front sidewalk. There was a Western
Union office in the lobby and a barber shop and pool parlor in the
There was also a large dance room on the Mezzanine Floor, fronting
Main Street, widely used for dances, parties, bridge and teaching
dance and piano to our sisters, teenagers and sweethearts.
Miss Mary Martin, mother of Larry Hagman, Old J. R. of “Dallas” taught
dancing lessons to my younger sister “Viv,” who was prettier than
Shirley Temple to me.
Gholson guest rooms were turned into apartments during the 1930s,
two of which my parents occupied from 1953 to 1969, in which they
lived contentedly. Hundreds of us survivors of the Boom Days of Ranger
were pleased by news about the remodeling and life extension of this
fine old historic landmark.
I understand that a new elevator has been installed
to replace that cranky, balky, jerky old relic that I last attempted
to use in 1969. “Gone and Good Farewell, Old Jerky.” I recently received
a report that “Old Jerky” is tastefully displayed in the middle of
the hotel lobby, and I am glad.
Forty unemployed lads and I leaned against the front of the Gholson
for three years of the Big Depresh, and kept the hotel from falling
forward into Main. Do not erect a bronze tablet on the front pillar
for our labors performed over  years ago. Knowing that the Gholson
is doing well is enough reward now."
- Don Champion, New
October 20, 2007
Don Champion, surveyor, oil scout and raconteur spent the last years
of his eventful life in New
Ulm, Texas. His book, Wood Derricks, Iron Men and Gold Women is
available in most Austin County libraries. The stories and anecdotes
cover the width and breadth of the state
as well as parts of Louisiana and Alaska and the detail-rich first
person accounts of the boomtowns of Ranger,
Borger and Eastland
are an entertaining and valuable contribution to the history of that
Anyone wishing to share any information on Mr. Champion (or the Gholson
Hotel) is invited to contact
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories,
landmarks and vintage/historic photos, please contact