The Donigan Building: Corpus Christi's First Modern Hotel - The Bend Magazine

The Donigan Building: Corpus Christi’s First Modern Hotel

The Donigan Building, built in 1907 as the State Hotel, provided contemporary amenities to visitors and locals.

A vintage photo of the Donigan Building in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The State Hotel, 703 N. Mesquite, before the 1916 addition | Photo provided by Corpus Christi Public Libraries, La Retama Special Collections & Archives

For 58 years, the Donigan Building stood at Mesquite and Starr Streets, on the site of the parking lot across from House of Rock. The structure was built in 1907 by Armenian immigrant V.M. Donigan as the State Hotel. The first modern hotel in Corpus Christi, the hotel had 30 rooms and many had private baths, a rarity at the time. Those rooms cost $1.50 per night, versus the typical 75¢.

The Donigan Building ground level held businesses like the State Hotel Coffee Shop — which operated 24 hours a day — and a café, as well as a confectionary and a drug store. A chiropractor saw patients in his office there for nearly four decades, and it served as  La Retama Library from 1921 to 1926 after the damage of the 1919 hurricane. It even hosted the Texas Rangers when they came to town to investigate a murder, including the man who tracked down Bonnie and Clyde years later.

With the hotel’s success came growth, and a fourth floor was added in 1916. A 1926 addition doubled the size of the hotel to 100 rooms, leading to the rebranding as the New State Hotel. After a battle over Donigan’s estate, it was leased to Mr. Charles V. Walker, Donigan’s son-in-law, who called it the Town House Hotel. Improvements to modernize the hotel never came, and the building was condemned prior to its demolition in 1965. Gone but not forgotten are the contributions the State Hotel, its tenants and its visitors made to the growth of Corpus Christi in the first half of the century.  

Interested in learning more about local history? Check out A Look at the History of The Federal Building on Starr St.