When the oldest hotel in Houston, needed a face-lift, it took two prominent Dallas denizens, artist Jay Shinn
and designer David Cadwallader, to make it into the premier hot spot in Houston, adding it to the canon of the world’s art hotels.
The Lancaster was built in the Regency style in 1926 by the DeGeorge family and remained in the ownership of the family until Shinn’s recent purchase.
Its storied history includes visits by prominent actors Clark Gable and Gene Autry, businessmen, circus performers, and even a horse, Speedy Boy, who won a race in Galveston in 1927.
Jay Shinn, a notable Dallas artist represented by Barry Whistler Gallery and CEO of his family’s Magnolia Lodging, heard the hotel was on the market and felt it would be a good fit for his company.
“As an artist, collector, and second-generation hotelier, I am thrilled to be able to combine my passion for art and hospitality into this remarkable venue,” he says.
Shinn purchased the hotel in 2017, one month before Hurricane Harvey decimated most of the city of Houston,
and enlisted his friend David Cadwallader to oversee the interior design.
What began as modest updating of a beautiful and elegant old hotel turned into a full-scale reconstruction, and a welcome addition to Houston’s famed theatre district, alongside Jones Hall and the Alley Theatre.
Because the scale of the project had changed from a gradual update to a fast-track renovation,
Cadwallader and team worked on design while demolition and new construction was underway.
“I worked with a great team—skilled craftsmen from Magnolia Lodging were able to build and make furniture at the same time.
Dallas designer Dan Nelson helped with the guest rooms and provided color and added flair,
and Steven Byrd designed lighting that was adequate for a hotel and subtle enough to create a residential atmosphere,” says Cadwallader.
Shinn curates the art in the hotel, many pieces culled from the work of friends; all artwork is from the private collection he assembled with his partner, Tim Hurst.
Over 200 pieces of art adorn the hotel’s lobby, Tea Lounge, Cultivated F+B restaurant (where one of Shinn’s own works hangs), and Speedy Boy coffee bar.
The 93 guest rooms each feature one central artist, from emerging artist to mid-career, all Texas based or with significant Texas ties.
“Every time a guest checks in they have a different experience with different art.
We have works by over 50 artists in the rooms and suites and represent no more than three or four individual works by each artist,” says Shinn.
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