Recent Listing: Abilene Courts, Abilene, Taylor County

Abilene Courts
Abilene, Taylor County

Abilene Courts is an outstanding example of a pre-World War II tourist court along the transcontinental Bankhead Highway. Built in 1930 by former rancher William Bateman Burns one year after the paving of the Bankhead Highway through Abilene, the building reflects the explosion of family-owned roadside businesses across the United States, including gas stations, restaurants, and lodging facilities. The property consists of a single rectangular building wrapped around a central courtyard, accessed by a driveway under an arched opening, and stands as one of only two eligible examples of this once-common plan type along the Bankhead Highway in Texas.  The property operated as a motel and apartment building under the same name until 1985, but is currently vacant and shows years of deferred maintenance. Displaying painted signage advertising rooms for one and three dollars, the building retains a remarkably high degree of integrity and stands as a rare example of its type in Texas. The property was listed in the National Register under Criterion A in the area of Commerce and Criterion C in the area of Architecture, at the state level of significance.

Abilene Courts is a compact rectangular courtyard-plan tourist court. The single-story, flat-roofed, 20-unit wood frame building is finished with brick on the primary north exterior elevation, and stucco on all other facades, including the courtyard. The Mission Revival-inspired north façade features a brick arched driveway entrance in the second of five bays, featuring remarkably-intact painted signage with the name “Abilene Courts” and unit prices of “$1” and “$3.” A projecting neon sign hangs to the right of the arch in the third bay, and each north window is finished with a metal-tiled shed awning. Each rental unit is adjacent to a dedicated carport, all of which are accessed through the courtyard, maximizing privacy as the building turns inward from the street.

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