In 1929, T.B. Baker was on a roll. Within a six month period, he opened 5 brand new hotels, the last one being The Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells (which opened in November). However, another Baker that opened only a few months earlier was the 11 story, 160 room Goodhue Hotel in Port Arthur Texas.
J. Forrest Goodhue, a local builder and civic leader, was helping to build the hotel with local funds when he died of a heart attack in January 1929 – while the building was still under construction.
The original name of the Goodhue Hotel was planned to be “The Dick Dowling Hotel” in honor of the Confederate Civil War hero of the same name. In fact, you may see “The Dick Dowling Hotel” on some of the early promotional postcards for the building. In April of 1929, however, Baker formally announced that the building would officially be called “The Goodhue Hotel” going forward, simply because “Everyone called it Goodhue instead.”
Over the years, the grand hotel weathered several hurricanes along the stormy Texas coast, including Hurricane Audrey in 1957.
The Goodhue was in the news again in 1970, when Janis Joplin came back to her hometown just months before her death to attend her ten-year high school class reunion. She gave a press conference in the second floor ballroom of the hotel.
After shutting down in the eighties, the building was demolished in 1990, allegedly due to poor structural integrity. The site is still a vacant lot today.
Interestingly, the Hotel Sabine a block away was built around the same time, and is still standing today (although it is currently vacant and in need of renovation). That building may have survived the coastal conditions longer than the Goodhue because of the cypress pilings that the Hotel Sabine’s builders reportedly added under every inch of the structure.