I was photographing the interesting high school complex in Breckenridge on my recent visit to Texas and while seeking a better vantage point from the parking lot, noted the old pump–right in the middle of town. There are actually several of them within the city limits, so I guess the town just grew up around the wells. The Burch Hotel visible from anywhere around town was built during the oil boom and opened in 1928. The current stucco-like facade was added though I do not recall exactly when–or why. It is rather incongruous with the landscape of most rural West Texas towns, and is easily visible miles before one reaches Breckenridge. After the oil slowdown, there was no longer a need for such a large and ostentatious hotel, and it is now used as a bank and office space. Every time I stop at the traffic light on the corner by the bank, I can’t resist staring up. At one time, staring up would reveal the BPOE sign that stuck out from the side of the building, about the 8th or 9th floor. The Elks leased one floor, the top floor was used for the Petroleum Club. The 10 story building was built using many local businesses for supplies, including the brick which came from Mineral Wells.
When you consider the original building, you have to wonder about that stucco job: What were they thinking?