Cortez Hotel (Villa de Cortez)
The Villa de Cortez is located at 260 S Texas Blvd. on Weslaco's historic plaza. It was previously known as the Cortez Hotel, which opened its doors to guests on December 31, 1928.
The city of Weslaco was only five-years-old when its citizens petitioned for a new hotel. After a failed first attempt, citizens successfully convinced city leaders to accept a bid for the new hotel on February 7, 1928. The grand opening of the Cortez was a huge celebration that took place on New Year’s Eve 1928. Mrs. Allie Couch Reeves, wife of a Weslaco founder, won the contest to name the hotel.
Paul G. Silber (architect) and his company Argentum Development Corporation, were hired to build the prestigious four-story Cortez Hotel. Silber, a German native designed the commercial building in a Spanish Colonial Revival style with rosy beige stucco, flat roof with trimmed red tiles and fitted with French doors. The hotel also had a basement and an elevator shaft that provided entertainment for local children while their parents mingled at the hotel. The hotel had 65 guest rooms, measured 12,201 square feet and sat on an acre of land.
Silber, originally drew out the plans to construct a fountain in the courtyard but it wasn’t completed during the build. When the current owners, Larry and Patti Dittburner, reviewed the original plans they decided to incorporate the fountain as part of the 1998 restoration. The Dittburners completely renovated the hotel as an elegant private event venue, restored its architecture, and and re-established its reputation as a mixed-use business and social center for Weslaco.
The Cortez Hotel is listed in the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior. In 2005, Texas Historical Commission made the hotel as state landmark (Marker Number 13091).
As stated in the marker inscription, "Groups such as the city's Camarillo Dance Club and local service clubs met in the hotel ballroom, which also served as the site of graduations and political rallies. The business changed hands throughout the 20th century, and today the hotel remains a symbol of an era in Valley history marked by civic pride and community progress."
Local newspaper advertisements and clippings attest to the hotels historical contribution as a social, cultural, and economic center. In addition to providing travel lodging and hosting special events, businesses set up their offices in the hotel. The Cortez Hotel offered all the modern conveniences of its era, including a barber shop, a beauty salon, coffee shop, a ballroom, post office, and telegraph office. It was truly a hub for the community.
Patti and Larry Dittburner
In 1998, real estate developers Pattie and Larry Dittburner purchased the Cortez Hotel for $300,000 and later learned it would cost at least that much more to renovate the building. And, while construction of an entirely new building would have been more cost effective, the Dittburners recognized the value of the hotel as a cultural and historical resource for the City of Weslaco. Their restoration inspired other historic building owners to make interior and exterior improvements. Thus, the Dittburger's personal investment spurred a larger revitalization movement as business owners and the city reinvested in downtown Weslaco.
Images of Villa de Cortez from the Texas Historical Commission. [Historic Marker Application: Cortez Hotel], text, December 10, 2004; University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, crediting Texas Historical Commission.
Cortez Hotel Weslaco, Texas 111, 2002-2005, Container: 79, Box: 3, Folder: 38. Hidalgo County Historical Commission Collection, ELIBR-0079. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus.
Gonzalez, Mike (2009 January 28). Success in the Villa de Cortez: Couple Turns Risk into Popular Location. The Monitor, McAllen, Texas.
“Our Legacy” Villa de Cortez website https://www.villadecortezweslaco.com/
Rodriguez, Michael. (2015 March 5). Business Model: Cortez Redo a Standard for Projects in the Valley. The Monitor, McAllen, Texas.
Texas Historical Commission. [Historic Marker Application: Cortez Hotel], text, December 10, 2004; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth439610/: accessed April 29, 2022), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Commission.
YouTube channel of Zach Sunderland. (2020). The Weslaco Independent School District & The Weslaco Bicultural Museum Present: A Historic Video Documentary of the Villa de Cortez (1999). The History of the Villa De Cortez.