SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - When San Augustine Mayor Leroy Hughes walks around the Lewis Railroad Hotel his mind starts to wonder.
"You get a sense of humor to see the past," Hughes said.
Specifically what it was like being black in the face of segregation.
"This was the only place African Americans could spend the night here in San Augustine," Hughes said. "And during the railroad construction in the early '20s the railroad workers stayed here."
The circa 1870 boarding house is now closed to everyone, except for what passes through an open window. As late as the 1970s the clapboard house was a private residence, serving as a safe haven for Hughes' friend who rented a room on the second floor.
"Many years ago used to just rent rooms at people's houses, so this was a big house, so that took on that feature," Hughes said.
The Lewis Hotel became a funeral home. Eventually, the city bought it for a complete restoration. A new roof and stabilization occurred. That was 25 years ago.
Renewed hope began last month when Preservation Texas selected the Lewis Hotel as an endangered historic place. The designation brings statewide attention to what communities go through to preserve its past.
"It opens up avenues that we can receive money from grantors and donators that are wiling to preserve this great history here in San Augustine," Hughes said.
The goal is to create an African-American museum, a park and walking trail along the Ayish Bayou, which runs along the railroad tracks once built by black railroad workers.
You can learn more about the Lewis Hotel and the other eight endangered historic places in Texas at preservationtexas.org.