Galveston's Flagship Hotel demolition underway

Galveston's historic Flagship Hotel is being demolished after standing vacant since Hurricane Ike (Adela Uchida)

February 23, 2011 4:25:50 PM PST
On a foggy, dreary day in Galveston, the city is saying goodbye for good to what once was an island city landmark, as the Flagship Hotel is taken down to make way for a new tourist attraction. What's left of the old hurricane battered Flagship Hotel is being taken down piece by piece in a very detailed demolition. After Hurricane Ike slammed into Galveston Island more than two years ago, the Flagship Hotel was perhaps the most visible reminder of what the storm did to the island.

Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski said, "It's fitting that it's being taken down now and in its place something beautiful is being built."

Crews are in the final phase of preparing the old hotel for demolition.

"We have to take them down piece by piece to avoid a collapse of the entire building," explained Mike McCracken with Ardent Construction. "So we're in the final engineering phase to secure the building."

Passersby stopped to take pictures of the activity on the pier of the hotel and to reflect on decades of memories.

Galveston resident Cecilia Lopez said, "It's sad because it's been here a while and it's part of our history."

But Galveston residents say even before the storm, the hotel was ripe to be torn down.

"The building was horrible," recalled Galveston resident Rick Markette. "The rooms, the place had a reputation for being pretty bad off. It was disgusting."

The property is now owned by Tillman Ferttita. In place of the Flagship Hotel, the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier will go up. It will be an amusement park and tourist attraction, and the city hopes, will remind no one of Hurricane Ike.

Official demolition begins Monday, floor by floor. Workers will slowly take the skeleton of the old hotel apart.

McCracken said, "You just got to be careful, anything over the water you got to be twice as careful."

Flagship hotel was built in 1965. Back in the 1940s, there was a pleasure pier in that location, so the location is returning to its roots.