DALLAS’S CRUTCHFIELD HOUSE, 1870

The Crutchfield House, Dallas’s First Hotel, was originally a log structure, built around 1852 which burned in the fire of 1860.  The first hotel Dallas ever knew was a historic landmark in this city for many years. It was built about 1850 on the bluff of the Trinity near the eastern end of the present Commerce street bridge. It stood there for years, giving welcome to the weary traveler. The barn behind had a welcome for the traveler’s tired horse. Travelers from all parts of the Southwest occasionally stopped there, and within its walls were entertained Sam Houston, John H. Reagan and many another who did deeds for Texans to remember. After an existence of about fifteen years, the old Crutchfield House, together with most of the rest of the town, was consumed by an incendiary fire. Dallasites took the law into their own hands and, finding four Negroes believed to be the guilty firebugs, took them quietly across the river and left them hanging to as many trees as there were Negroes.

Crutchfield House

Crutchfield House

Shortly after this, the Crutchfield House was rebuilt, but in another location. This time, it occupied the site of the present fire station at Main and Broadway. It was run by Mrs. Crutchfield till 1870, when S. E. McIlhenny became its manager. Mr. McIlhenny was then a very young man, but he knew how to run a popular hotel and he made it successful. Since then, he has managed the Grand Windsor, the Windsor, the Oriental and the Majestic. He is now in charge of the handsome South Ervay street hostelry, and has not lost one whit of his immense popularity with the traveling public. The hotel Mr. McIlhenny is managing to-day has 247 rooms and is fitted with the most modern conveniences. From the Crutchfield house to the Majestic is a long stride, but Manager McIlhenny is at his ease as much now as he was then.

It has also been reported that Crutchfiled was an excellent hunter and would roam the area in search of quail, deer and buffalo. There was a large bell used to call the guest to dinner before a drunk cowboy shot it down.

His wife, Mariah and a hired French cook that would prepare the meals. A “square meal” could be purchased for 25 cents.

Dallas Daily Times Herald, June 16, 1907. Article originally transcribed by Jim Wheat for his Dallas County Archives collection.  Other Dallas history can be found here.