"If we were going to invest in downtown, we wanted to do it right and go big," said Peter Ellis - a young man who first noticed the Praetorian building on 6th Street and Franklin Avenue when he was a Baylor student. A decade of dreaming later, Peter and his wife Summer are deep into some very suite plans.
The Praetorian stands on 6th and Franklin, a snapshot of Waco's past. Timeless architectural detail leaves onlookers in awe and speaks for the historic nature of Downtown Waco. Original construction began on the Praetorian building in 1913 when it was registered in the United States National Historic Building Registry.
The Praetorian Insurance Company, the first tenants of the building, moved in around 1917. In that era, insurance companies were highly communal. Members of the Praetorian's fraternal insurance order partook in parties, formal balls and other events, necessitating the size and elegance of the building. But the namesake insurance company wasn't the only business the Praetorian housed.
"It's all about inspiring the guest, creating a guest experience, not just a hotel night stay." That's the way Hotel Indigo sales manager Cy Long begins his description of Downtown Waco's premier boutique hotel.
With attention to detail and upscale amenities, Hotel Indigo provides a groundbreaking experience for both out of town guests and Waco residents who need a quick retreat. And nightly drink specials, a stunning poolside patio, Thursday night jazz concerts and flaming bananas foster bring both hotel guests and Wacoans to the hotel's Brazos Bar and Bistro for an urban getaway, any night of the week.
"About five or six years ago we saw the light in Waco, and the planning started," said Long. "We took a chance, and it's coming to life."
When Waco law firm Beard, Kultgen, Brophy, Bostwick, Dickson & Squires LLP overflowed their borders at the Central National Bank Building, they had a decision to make: rent or buy additional space. They never could have foreseen all the implications of what came next.
After considering several building sites around Waco, this group of lawyers settled on an abandoned Nabisco warehouse on 4th Street between Franklin and Mary and began the process of transforming the space into an office most only dream of. "One of the intriguing factors was to be a part of the renovation of a block that's prominent and significant in the inner core of downtown," said founding partner, Rick Bostwick. Added partner, Ryan Johnson, "The City [of Waco] was good to work with, and they provide financial incentives for businesses relocating to the downtown area, particularly those relocating to buildings that are in need of renovation," The law firm worked closely with the City in the design, construction, and other elements of the building process.
The warehouse standing on the corner of Franklin and University Parks Dr. survived Waco's infamous tornado of 1953, while many of the buildings surrounding it were decimated in its wake. From this concrete canvas, local business owner, Mark Owen, has created a new community gathering place; an outdoor adventure store opened April 2012 in the heart of downtown.
In 2000, after selling a business, Owen went into semi-retirement and began competing in triathlons around the state of Texas. Competing in other cities, he began to notice the possibilities in his own city. Cameron Park, Lake Waco and the Bosque and Brazos Rivers create an opportunity to swim, paddle, run and bike in picturesque, natural settings, making Waco an ideal location for recreational events and activities.
"Waco has the perfect setup, but no one was taking advantage of it, so I saw a need," said Owen.