Though Temple had a population of only about 15,000 people in the late 1920’s, its skyline boasted three skyscrapers, one of which was the Kyle Hotel. It is the tallest building in Temple at 146 feet with 14 floors.
Backstory and Context
The Kyle Hotel was the brain child of Dr. A. C. Scott, a physician and founder of Scott and White Hospital in Temple, Texas. Scott believed a quality hotel would benefit not only the city of Temple but Scott and White Hospital as well. He persuaded his friend and wealthy oilman, W. W. Kyle of Beaumont, to help finance the project by purchasing $75,000 in hotel stock. As a major investor in the project, Kyle was honored with having the hotel named for him.
The 13-story plus basement building was designed by Austin architect, George Louis Walling, in the Mediterranean and Pueblo styles. Actual construction was carried out by L.H. Lacey & Company of Dallas with Temple resident, Ben Love, serving as construction superintendent. The total cost of the project including land, building, and furnishings was about $500,000.
The hotel opened in 1929 with a “human fly” act. A man scaled the outside wall pausing halfway to refresh with a bottle of Coca-Cola. In the beginning, the hotel had ten bellhops, a day and night clerk and switchboard operators, all working 12-hour shifts. Managed by the prestigious Baker chain, the hotel was a first-class establishment with amenities that included a barbershop, beauty salon, coffee shop, roof garden, laundry, valet and tailoring services, banquet hall, and presidential suite with a porch. Scott and White Hospital often leased the upper floors for patients' accommodations. Many civic and social gatherings took place at the hotel banquet hall.
It had its share of famous visitors including Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. During the Depression, a struggling musician by the name of Lawrence Welk directed his band in the dining room. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Scott and White continued to use the hotel. By 1951 the hotel became known as the Kyle Hotel Convalescent Center. When Scott and White moved to south Temple in the 1960s, hotel occupancy declined, and the building was converted to apartments.
Brudge Kyle closed the hotel in 1974 and later sold it to investors in Walker County. The Temple Kyle Partnership, Ltd., bought the property in 1989. In 1991 the hotel was renovated and repurposed to be used as housing for elderly, handicapped/disabled, and low income residents. It is under the direction of the Temple Housing Authority, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1993. Today it remains as one of Temple's few high-rise buildings.
Bowmer, Martha. Bell County Revisited: An Informal, Pictorial History of Bell County. Temple, Tex: Temple Jaycees, 1976.
“National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Temple Commercial Historic District.” Washington, DC.: United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service, 2005.