The Panhandle Inn: Second Debut
By Jodie Detten PHS Senior
The music, along with laughter and chattering, poured into the streets. It was, yet again, a Saturday night when the citizens of Carson County fled to the most hopping and eventful place in town. With the size and unique architectural style, the 20,000 square foot hotel had plenty of space to host business meetings, an in-house barbershop, a cafe' oasis, and even a drug store. Still, amidst the rubble, lies a story, lies The Panhandle Inn. Making its debut on December 31, 1924 and standing tall throughout the Wall Street crash of 1929, the decade-long Great Depression, the Dust Bowl of the 1930's, World War II, and the opening of the Empire State Building in 1931, The Inn has seen it all. At the time The Inn was built, Panhandle was home to the second largest shipping yard in the United States. A committee was formed to build a hotel that would serve as the panhandle's meeting place. Financed by Ernest O. Thompson, an acknowledged leader in petroleum conservation, The Inn served many business travelers associated with oil and gas. 1972 was the last year The Inn was occupied and has since sat vacantly. Within the ruins, Julie Young (a Panhandle native) found a glimmering piece of hope. She realized that the story beneath the debris is worth remembering it is history. History has the ability to change lives. Clara Discoll was a fine example of this. She is the lady that saw the spark, took the initiative, and stood up for her beliefs, ultimately saving the Alamo. A place that sees more than 2.5 million visitors, from all over the world, per year was nearly destroyed. All it took was one lady and one sliver of courage, and greatness was achieved. Last year, when Mrs. Bradford's 4th grade class was learning about Clara Driscoll and her miraculous saving of the Alamo, the kids declared Julie Young as "Panhandle's Clara Driscoll". Kids have a way of putting things in perspective and simplifying the situation. Imagine if the entire Panhandle community pulled together with Mrs. Young to form one dream: Let's "Save The Inn!" Mrs. Bradford's Family and Community Service class has been blessed with the opportunity to work with Mrs. Young and The Inn. Throughout the project, we have acquired kills that will last us a lifetime. Based on "Seven Essentials for Project-Based Learning" by John Larmer and John R. Mergendoller, every project needs to be perceived as personally meaningful, and as a task that matters. An important project will have an educational purpose. The seven essentials are: a need to know, a driving question, student voice and choice, 21st century skills (boost collaboration, communication, and critical thinking skills, and the use of technology), inquiry and innovation, feedback and revision, and, finally, a publicly presented product. Reviewing these requisites, we have what it takes to make our dream come true. We have been presented with a chance to learn and make a difference. We can "Save The Inn!"
What is passion? It has many meanings, but the main one is: A powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger. Clara Driscoll had a strong passion for the Alamo. She saved the Alamo from being bulldozed. She did not want such a historic building to be torn down. She could not imagine thirty years later that building not being there, representing what it does today. Julie Young has this same passion for our Panhandle Inn and that is why she has been called the Clara Driscoll of Panhandle.
The Panhandle Inn was built in 1924, and was closed in 1972, only forty-eight years after being built. Many have tried to reopen The Inn over the years, and have failed. That is why so many people in Panhandle have stepped up to help raise the three million dollars The Inn is in need of. Right now Mrs. Bradford's Family Consumer Service Class is trying to help The Inn get back to its former glory.
The Inn was built to be a place for oil, gas, and cattle industries to stay while traveling. This is why our 8th period class has broken up into two groups: research team and social media team. The research team looked up information on what Ernest O. Thompson did for the oil companies, in hopes to get donations from oil companies. The social media team took charge of Panhandle Inn's Facebook page, and posted interesting facts about The Inn in order to inform people on The Inn.
The Panhandle High School's S.W.A.T. team volunteered to help take down the Halloween decorations from the haunted house hosted at The Inn. They also helped remove plaster from the top floor to help jump start the reconstruction. Panhandle High School's Theater Arts classes also helped raise money for The Inn. They held "Shakespeare At the Inn" to not only raise money, but to let more people see how truly remarkable the inside of the building is.
Everybody in Panhandle has stepped up and came together to raise as much money as we can to help. We all want to see The Inn back in its former glory. So will YOU help us achieve our goal?
by Kendra Reining
Mrs. Bradford’s fall Community Service Class ended their semester with a letter writing contest. Using knowledge gained from researching the history of the U.S., Texas, Panhandle, and Ernest O. Thompson, the students composed letters to gain support for the restoration of the Panhandle Inn. The winners were selected by the Panhandle Inn Foundation board members.
The top three writers received SAVE THE INN t-shirts and $25 cash. The winners were: Best Over All-“The Panhandle Inn: Second Debut” by Jodie Detten (Most Likely to work in public relations), Best Creative Spin-“Red Bricks” by Dalton George (PHS’ future famous historical novelist), and Best Call to Action-“Passion” by Kendra Reining (Future philanthropic fund raising executive).
Other participants: Colby Roach and Jett Kates, Austin Browder and Red Hughey, Amber Bellah and Tori Chavez, Brodie Powers, Austin Terrell, Ryan Shemwell and Jason Durham, and Tonya Pavez and Kaylee Yarger. Along with the three winners, Brody Powers and Colby Roach received SAVE THE INN! t-shirts for their extra effort given and leadership shown as they worked with their groups.
by Dalton George
Red bricks. That’s what I remember most about growing up on Main Street in the small quaint town of Panhandle, TX. I learned to ride my bike on those bricks. I rode shotgun in my dad’s Suburban while he brought home each of my three sisters from the hospital, and just recently I learned to drive on those old bricks.
Surrounding the bricks, like a canopy of trees, are rows of old buildings. These buildings have been through it all, each outnumbering the other in years. Like in most small towns, these buildings are hosts to small businesses that have strived with the support of the small community. There is a hardware store, an old hotel, a library, and a ballet studio currently owned by my family for twelve years now.
Like a watchful grandmother that has seen it all, the Panhandle Inn still stands tall. That big pink adobe building down the street has seen it all. After over eighty-seven years, she still stands tall. The Inn has seen the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, three wars and nineteen presidents.
Even though she has been through it all…our grandmother is dying. Throughout the years her age is beginning to show: rusted pipes and chipped paint cover the exterior. Not just the outside needs work, but the inside as well. Someone not from here visiting the Inn would describe it as cold, damp, and overall just plain old. But through our eyes, we are watching a cherished family member slowly rotting away.
In order to achieve our purpose, our class has been brainstorming ideas to raise money. We need equipment and a budget to spend to get us moving. The one thing we do have is people to work. The Panhandle Inn has been adopted by the Family and Consumer Service class of Panhandle High School. At first it was chosen as a class project, but it soon grew from another assignment to somewhat a mission to us. We are excited to be a part of this mission to make Panhandle whole again. Because without Panhandle, there is no Inn, and without the Panhandle Inn, there is no Panhandle.