The Princess Louise Hotel opened at the corner of Water and Mann streets in 1929.
It was owned by LOUISE and Walter Foster.
Foster’s wife was tragically killed in a car wreck in 1936, but Walter continued to operate the hotel until his own death in 1948.
Up until 1939, the hotel literally sat on the bay....the waterfront was just across the street.
In 1937, my mother worked in a building just across Mann Street from the hotel, and she said that on many days when the tide was up and the wind was blowing hard, spray from the bay would come through the front windows!
When plans to construct the Seawall were announced, the biggest opponent of the proposal was Walter Foster.
The Seawall would move the shoreline two blocks away from his hotel, and, in his opinion, destroy his hotel.
Guests came to the Princess Louise to be near the water….not two blocks away from it.
He began taking out full page ads in the Caller-Times citing the huge expense of the the Seawall to taxpayers and claiming that it would destroy our beautiful bayfront!
His opposition was to no avail.
The Seawall was built and the hotel continued to thrive. It operated as a hotel until 1964.
The old hotel was closed and underwent an extensive renovation.
It re-opened in October, 1965 as the La Posada Apartments.
I photographed the building in October of 1981 .
At that time, a row of buildings that had existed across Mann Street from the hotel since the 1930's (the building where my mother had worked) was being demolished (and, if you look closely, you can see the Ship Ahoy sign just beyond the old hotel).
In another photo that I took in 1988 the building was painted the pink color of the original Princess Louise, and the Texas Commerce Motor Bank had been built across Mann Street from the apartments.
The nasty looking vacant lot on the right side of Water Street in the 1981 photo was filled in with the construction of the Hershey Hotel (now the Omni Bayfront) in 1985.
Eventually, the old La Posada apartments became known as The Princess Apartments (obviously a reference to the original Princess Louise).
In 2014, the old Texas Commerce Bank Motor Bank building was demolished, and a new Prosperity Bank was built, once again changing the look of the Water Street/Mann intersection.
By this time, the old Princess Louise building was in sad shape.
The rundown apartments were filled with many non-paying tenants (only 20% of tenants were current on their rent) and there were even non-paying squatters in the building!
I remember thinking that the days of the historic building were numbered, and I kept expecting to see a Camacho dumpster show up at any moment!
But, sometimes, miracles do happen. In March of 2021, a company called “1001 N. Water Street LLC” bought the property with the intention of doing a $5 million renovation of the building and turning it into a luxury apartment complex.
The company is a subsidiary of “Fish Pond Development LLC”……the company that bought the Sea Gulf Villa apartments (the old Medical-Professional Bldg.) in 2019, and will soon start a massive $15 million renovation of that 1929 downtown building.
Photos taken last month of the old Princess Louise Hotel building show the renovation project in its final stages. It will then re-open as the 59 unit “Northwater Apartments”. This means more downtown residents and the saving of another Corpus Christi landmark with almost 100 years of history behind it!
Robert Parks is a special contributor to KRIS 6 News. Parks was a teacher at Carroll High School for 19 years and is now retired. His knowledge of Corpus Christi history make him an expert in the subject.