The Ranchotel is at 2501 West Sixth Ave. in Amarillo, TX and is
currently used as private apartments.
Amarillo is the only major city traversed by Texas's 177-mile
section of Route 66 through seven long, flat, Panhandle
counties. The city evolved into an oasis along the
highway. From the 1920s to the 1950s, local entrepreneurs
opened gas stations, cafes, and tourist courts to serve
travelers along Route 66, including the Ranchotel in 1940.
The Ranchotel is among the best preserved of Amarillo’s Route 66
When Americans first began
long-distance automotive travel, they typically stayed in hotels
or camped beside the road. Partly out of civic pride and partly
from a sense of self protection, towns began furnishing free
campgrounds with water, cooking, and bathing facilities. In
response to Amarillo’s popularity with travelers, the city
constructed the Amarillo City Tourist Camp in June of 1924.
Located on Fifth Avenue, between Travis and Bowie Streets, the
publicly supported camp was about nine blocks from the later
During the mid-1920s, privately owned tourist
courts began replacing publicly supported camps as an
alternative to downtown hotels. Amarillo had a profusion of
courts. Many owners built on the city’s edge where land was
cheaper and building and operating costs lower. This enabled
proprietors to keep room rates low and intercept travelers
before they reached the downtown hotels.
Areas such as
Sixth Avenue, between the congested downtown business district
and the burgeoning San Jacinto neighborhood, were attractive
places for tourist cabins and motels. As many as six courts in
L-shaped, U-shaped, continuous-row, and individual-cabin
configurations soon occupied the 10 blocks from Georgia Street
on the west to Bowie Street. The total number of private lodging
operations along Route 66 in the city grew from 25 in 1928 to 37
in 1945, and eventually reached 68 in 1953.
Sixth-Avenue building with 16 units linked by alternating garage
spaces, the Ranchotel lived up to its name by incorporating the
imagery of the region’s vernacular adobe and ranching
traditions. The Ranchotel has stucco-covered walls and squat
chimneys complemented by wooden windows flanked by rustic wooden
shutters. Triple panes graced the upper halves of paneled doors.
Gable ends featured simple wooden siding, and shifts in roof
level distinguished each segment of the unit, recalling pueblo
design. Exposed rafter ends in the overhanging eaves suggested
the traditional construction of the region. Shed-roofed porches
were supported with rustic square posts and framed by
wagon-wheel handrails. Inside, the proprietors served up the
West to vacationers with rustic bedsteads, tables, and chairs;
cowhide lampshades; horseshoe shaped mirrors; and curtain rods
that looked like branding irons.
Soon after 1952, Route
66 shifted off of Sixth Avenue to Amarillo Boulevard and tourist
courts began to disappear. The Ranchotel eventually became an
apartment building. Its tenants created additional space by
enclosing the garages and the north entry porch of the office,
yet the building remains recognizable and in good repair. It is
especially significant as one of the few surviving pre-war
examples of the tourist courts that historically lined Route 66
in Amarillo, and the National Park Service listed it in the
National Register of Historic Places in 1995.