Some historic hotels restored while others linger

By Fernando Del Valle

The Brownsville Herald

Published: Saturday, Oct. 6 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

In 2009, Cuevas and Esmeralda Nelson bought the building from Patricia T. Brown for $126,491, records show.

Cuevas did not return telephone calls requesting comment.

But Cuevas said an August 2011 interview that he planned to renovate the building.

"We want to bring it back to its glory days," Cuevas said at the time.

Ricardo Partida and Alma Flores, who said they invested in the hotel's restaurant, said they worked to rid the hotel of drug users and prostitutes.

"A lot of people told me every time they hear a siren it goes to the Stonewall Jackson," said Partida, who said he and Flores own a small restaurant in Nuevo Progreso. "We were trying to give it a different image. People noticed the police didn't go there anymore. Things were changing."

Partida and Flores said they planned a $2.5 million renovation project with Gustavo Cantu, a former Cameron County probation department supervisor.

As part of the project, the group planned to turn the restaurant area into a culinary school while the hotel would become a nursing home, Cantu said.

But the project stalled before Partida and Flores left the hotel in July, they said.

"Everyone's grasping at straws trying to find a way to save it," said Tootie Madden, president of the San Benito Historical Society.

The building remains a beloved historical landmark, she said.

"Even if the city condemns it, I think they should just board it up and not take a wrecking ball to it," Madden said. "You hope someone will come along with deep pockets and do something with it. You want to preserve the architecture of the time."

Information from: The Brownsville Herald, http://www.brownsvilleherald.com

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