Alexander Hotel, Center of Fannin County "Social World" in Early 20th Century
By Jacqueline White
Bonham Daily Favorite, September 13, 1992
The beautiful and historic Alexander Hotel, built by Horace Alexander (1842-1899), was completed in 1890 by Sparger and Bethurem Company. This impressive building stood on the Southeast corner of the Bonham Square for over three-quarters of a century.
It was operated as a hotel for 75 years before closing its doors in 1963. Originally the cost of a room for the night was $1. In its "heyday" the Alexander was regarded as the finest hotel in this part of the state, featuring 42 large rooms, a dining room and a ballroom. The hotel had stained glass windows in the arched windows on the top floor and featured beautiful hand carved staircases.
At one time this magnificent hotel was the center of the social world in Fannin County. When theatrical companies visited Bonham, they stayed at the Alexander Hotel. Carrie Nation, the symbol of womanhood and temperance, visited Bonham in 1905 and after her rousing opera house talk, she retired to the hotel. In 1913 Al Jolson also stayed at the Alexander when he appeared in Bonham's Steger Opera House. The great orator, William Jennings Bryant, also spent the night at the Alexander Hotel.
The main entrance to the hotel was on 4th Street (Sam Rayburn Drive) but the side entrrance on Center was also used. For some reason the sign over the side entrance said, Alexandria Hotel. No one knows why.
Bonham resident, Mrs. Rex (Elizabeth) Hendrix, parents, Mrs. and Mrs. E. F. White, managed the hotel for about 35 years. They moved from their home in the Russell Heights area about 1925 to an apartment on the third floor. Mrs. Hendrix has told the story of them "sitting on the balcony overlooking 4th Street, looking down at the courthouse square at the early cars and horse drawn vehicles that traveled the street below."
She also told of the late U.S. Senator Joseph Bailey, a close friend of the family, who stayed at the Alexander while in Bonham. Senator Bailey had a great influence on the early career of Sam Rayburn and on his decision to enter political and public life.
After time caught up with this major social center of North Texas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was structurally condemned, after failing to pass modern fire codes. With the all wood interior declared a fire hazard and uninhabitable under the fire code, the upper floors were turned over to pigeons, which raised several generations of families in the hotel's sinks and bathtubs.
The top two floors were removed in May of 1975. At that time the main floor was totally remodeled into new offices. The Hotel Alexander's colorful 87-year-old history was over.
Photo courtesy the Bonham Public Library
The photos below are from the collection of Jacqueline White
Bonham Daily Favorite
June 4, 1932
Bonham Daily Favorite
May 22, 1931
Bonham Daily Favorite, January 2, 1929