Preservation efforts continue on San Augustine's Lewis RR Hotel

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - For almost six years, the city of San Augustine has made efforts to renovate the Lewis Railroad Hotel.

The hotel was built in 1870 and provided a safe haven for African Americans at a time when public facilities and neighborhoods were still segregated.

In 2012, Preservation Texas selected the Lewis Railroad Hotel as an endangered historic place 

"We've been trying to preserve it, because it is very important history for Texas and San Augustine," said Mayor Leroy Hughes.

According to Hughes, the historic building is the only African American hotel still standing.

"African American people would come back in the early days, because African American citizens could not stay in regular hotels," Hughes said.

Also during railroad construction in the early 1920s, African-American railroad workers stayed there.

Many changes have been made to the building, but high winds from Hurricane Harvey caused a tree to uproot and fall on the hotel.

"It tore down the chimney, most of the west wall, including a gable, and a big piece of the roof," said City Manager John Camp.

Because of this incident, extra funds have been used; that's why officials are asking for donations to continue with the renovation.

"There's going to be about a $15,000 deficit between funds that are available and what we need to finish the restoration on just the outside of the hotel," Camp said.

There are plans to create an African American museum, park, and walking trail when the renovation comes to an end.

"Hopefully we can get the funds to renovate the inside and have a great monument in San Augustine," said Hughes.

Officials said they want to recreate the look that was previously there in 1870. Once renovation on the outside is complete workers will start to make upgrades inside.

A GoFundMe page has been created for donations towards the hotel.