Fire News

Historic Ambassador Hotel near downtown Dallas is destroyed in fire

Historic Ambassador Hotel near downtown Dallas is destroyed in fire

Ambassador Hotel
The hotel was 115 years old. Courtesy photo

The historic Ambassador Hotel near downtown Dallas was destroyed by fire overnight.

Dallas Fire and Rescue officials said that 911 calls came in shortly after 1:30 am on May 28. Dallas Fire and Rescue arrived to find the second and third floors burning, and by 2:15 am, the structure was fully involved. More than 45 units responded to the four-alarm blaze, according to a rough count of the active call list on the DFR website.

The building appeared to be a total loss. It was vacant, so there were no injuries.

Around 4 am, eastbound I-30 from Akard to I-45 was shut down, as were most side streets. The fire made visibility difficult, plus debris was an issue. By 5 am, the lanes had reopened, but there were still debris issues around Griffin Street, and firefighters were still on the scene putting out hot spots.

In February, we reported that the process of obtaining permits for a historic structure had held up progress by Jim Lake Companies, who bought the structure in 2015 with the intention of developing multifamily housing.

Built in 1904, The Ambassador was first The Majestic, and considered to be the oldest luxury hotel still standing in Dallas. Located at 1312 S. Ervay St. in The Cedars neighborhood, the six-story hotel was considered to be a high rise at the height of its popularity, luring famous guests like Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, and Woodrow Wilson.

"The Ambassador stands as an important local example of a mid-rise commercial building in the Cedars neighborhood and reflects the dramatic transition of south Dallas through the 20th Century," says a nomination to the National Registration of Historic Places.

In 1981, Sadrudin Alani bought the hotel and began to renovate it. By 1982, the Great Texas Development Corporation bought the Ambassador and announced it would complete the renovation. After the company declared bankruptcy and reorganized as TAP Historic Properties, it opened the property once again as a luxury hotel in 1983.

By 1990, times apparently were hard again, and the hotel temporarily closed due to lack of funds. It was purchased for $800,000 by Bill Gothard to establish the Institute in Basic Life Principles, operating there until it sold the building to Jim Lake Companies in 2015.

This isn't the first time the building has caught fire in recent years, either. On November 18, 2017, a fire on the second floor brought firefighters out as well, but the fire was much smaller and was contained to the second floor, only required two units to combat it, and caused minimal damage.

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A version of this story originally was published on CandysDirt.com.