LAMPASAS — The line reached around the corner as dozens of people stood waiting for their first glimpse into the Keystone Star Hotel.
Located in Lampasas at 404 E. Second St., across the street from the old post office turned personal residence, the cherished relic is undergoing a massive restoration.
The current owner, Andy Fish, a third generation Austin native and businessman, was searching for a storage location for his collection of Model T Ford automobiles when he discovered the dilapidated hotel which was originally constructed in 1856. Standing in the entryway greeting visitors during an open house Dec. 2 at the hotel, Fish said, “It has come such a long way, and it is a lovefest between the residents and the building.”
On a whim while in the area in 2017, Fish stopped through Lampasas to evaluate the rail depot on the same street. Something about the Keystone Star Hotel attracted him and he investigated further. “I could see through the trees just the back porch. There was a wall covered with weeds and the porch was glassed in,” Fish said.
Immediately, Fish contacted his real estate agent and initiated the process of acquiring the building. Still sitting in his car with the engine running, he picked up a notepad on which the first line reads, “Notes of a Crazy Man,” and penned out his plan for the hotel.
The renovation process started in January 2017.
“The goal was to save the building and the best way to do it was as a residence,” Fish said. “If we had done it commercially, then we would have had to put in elevators and done all the (Americans with Disabilities Act). It would have killed the project right out of the gate.”
When asked to open the Keystone Star Hotel during the Lampasas County Museum’s 2018 Tour of Homes during the first weekend of December, Fish promptly accepted.
The average number of tickets sold for the Tour of Homes in years past was about 230.
“We blew past that in the first hour,” Fish said.
Mary Loy Tobar, 71, was visiting family in Lampasas when she decided to take a walk down memory lane during the Tour of Homes on Sunday afternoon. She became overwhelmed with emotion as she once again stepped into the hotel rooms once cleaned by her mother.
“I was 5 or 6, just starting school. My mother used to clean the rooms here, housekeeping,” Tobar recalled.
“I used to come with her to help her, really to tag along is more like it, because at that age anything is fun,” she said. “My mother would ask me to gather the trash from the trash cans. That is what I would do to help her.” Her mother died in 2003.
Similar to many current and former residents of Lampasas, Tobar follows the renovation process on the Keystone Star Hotel’s social media page.
Once introduced to Tobar, Fish immediately asked her to record her recollections concerning the Keystone Star Hotel. He continues to request contributions from the community in the form of historical images and information concerning many aspects of the hotel.
By collecting and recording numerous types of information, Fish is able to triangulate various aspects of the building’s history. According to Fish, an aerial photograph taken from a bi-wing plane confirmed the existence of five dormers versus four as argued by the Historical Society.
In another example, Fish said, “We dated one photograph by the license plate on a vehicle. The Texas state symbol was located in a certain position for one year, and that was the year.”
Fish expects his official occupation of the recorded Texas Landmark will begin sometime in the middle of 2019.