“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Grapevine in Tarrant County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

The Wallis Hotel

The Wallis Hotel Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Thomas Smith, March 6, 2022
1. The Wallis Hotel Marker

Constructed in 1891, the original Wallis Hotel was located on the northeast corner of Hudgins and Main Streets, four blocks south of this location. The hotel stood half a block north of the Cotton Belt Railroad Depot, its proximity attracting traveling salesmen, or "drummers” as they were commonly called in the 19th century, to avail themselves of its hospitality.

Local businessman John Wallis built the hotel, and his sister Susan Wallis Terrill and her family ran the establishment for many years. The full-width front porch with its upper floor balcony faced Main Street and shaded the large, plate glass window storefronts. On one side was the hotel office, with a drummer's room at the rear where salesmen could display their wares. The family's rooms were at the rear of the ground floor, adjacent to the dining room.

One large "parlor guest room” was located on the second floor; more than 20 other upstairs guest rooms were only large enough bed, a chair and a washstand. Those with a window were popular and were often rented. Two rows of interior bedrooms for a single it had no windows. Reflecting social conventions
The Wallis Hotel Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Thomas Smith, March 6, 2022
2. The Wallis Hotel Marker
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of the time, there was originally a separate "ladies entrance” to the building so that women and children could be shielded from the rougher aspects of 19th century society.

The hotel's surviving guest register indicates that farm implement salesmen from nearby cities were the most frequent visitors. However, guests registered there from throughout the United States and Canada. In 1917 a group of five Hawaiians, a singing group touring the mainland as part of a Lyceum program, stayed at the hotel, and the guest register also reveals a visit by the "Wilson Baseball Team” in 1925. History records few untoward events at the hotel, although Virgie Wallis Taylor, Susan Terrill's niece, recalled that a shooting apparently occurred there around the turn of the century causing the family to prohibit children from access to the second floor during visits.

After experiencing mysterious disappearances of split logs from the hotel's woodpile during one winter, young Dick Wiley, son of the hotel's owners at the time, sought the advice and help of Grapevine's blacksmith, Charlie Millican. Millican drilled a small hole in one log and filled it with gunpowder, cautioning young Wiley to place it carefully in the woodpile. The next morning a loud explosion was heard near the hotel, and Wiley saw a cloud of black smoke rising from the chimney of a nearby house. The woodpile
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was evidently never raided again!

The "Brick Hotel,” as it was popularly called, was never a great financial success and finally closed in 1926. Torn down in the late 1930s, many of its bricks were crushed and used for base material in the construction of the then new Highway 26 to Fort Worth.

In 1988, the City of Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau began to seek a permanent home for its offices. The Bureau, led by Chairman Don Bigbie and Site Location Sub-Committee Chairman Warren Dearing, explored the possibility of reconstructing the old hotel here on Grapevine's original public square.

Dallas architectural firm ArchiTexas employed old photographs and reminiscences of Mr. Dearing and many longtime Grapevine residents to develop plans for an exact replica of the exterior of the Wallis Hotel. An appropriate, fate Victorian-era interior was incorporated into a state-of-the-art office facility for the Convention & Visitors Bureau. Materials, colors, fabrics and finishes were selected by City Council members Sharron Spencer, Gil Traverse and Will Wickman.

Descendants of the Wallis family, led by Gene Wiley, provided much important historical information and loaned the Bureau the staircase newel post statues and other furnishings from the original hotel for display.

The reconstruction of the Wallis was funded entirely by hotel
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occupancy taxes, thus creating a tangible benefit for the citizens of Grapevine from the presence of convention and leisure visitors to the city.

Ground was broken for the reconstruction in October 1991 and the cornerstone was laid on December 12, 1992, by Mayor William D. Tate and Convention & Visitors Bureau Chairman Don Bigbie. In November 1992 City Manager Trent Petty opened the building for occupancy by the Convention & Visitors Bureau and Grapevine Heritage Foundation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1891.
Location. 32° 56.345′ N, 97° 4.696′ W. Marker is in Grapevine, Texas, in Tarrant County. Marker is at the intersection of South Main Street and East Texas Street, on the left when traveling south on South Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 201 S Main Street, Grapevine TX 76051, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Palace Theatre (within shouting distance of this marker); "The Prairie Windmill" (within shouting distance of this marker); Torian Log Cabin (within shouting distance of this marker); Grapevine (within shouting distance of this marker); Benjamin Richard Wall (within shouting distance of this marker); Wall Drug Store (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); "Walking to Texas" (about 400 feet away); Grapevine I.O.O.F. (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Grapevine.
More about this marker. The marker is attached to the Messina Hof Grapevine Building.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 21, 2022. It was originally submitted on March 21, 2022, by Thomas Smith of Waterloo, Ill. This page has been viewed 167 times since then and 59 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 21, 2022, by Thomas Smith of Waterloo, Ill. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 30, 2023