When the C. Baldwin Hotel opens this summer in the space now occupied by the DoubleTree by Houston Downtown, it’ll be a brash re-imagining not only of the current Allen Center area, but what it means to be a hyperlocal, boutique hotel.
Boasting 354 guestrooms, more than 14,000 square feet of meeting space, stunning common areas and a signature restaurant, with interiors designed by the powerhouse duo of Lauren Rottet of Houston-based Rottet Studio as well as Kate Rohrer of Rohrer Creative, C. Baldwin should become one of the city’s most desirable addresses.
So, who or what, exactly is C. Baldwin?
Houston school children can recite the story of Augustus Chapman Allen and his brother, John Kirby Allen, the New York spectators who came ashore on the muddy banks of Buffalo Bayou and founded Houston — which would grow from a sleepy backwater to a dynamic center for commerce to the fourth-largest city in the country and a global economic force. Their exploits are legendary and central to Houston’s mythic identity as a place where anyone who has a dream and drive can come and thrive.
But it was Charlotte Baldwin Allen, Augustus’ wife, who kept the nascent city afloat during its infancy. When her husband fell ill and hightailed it off to Mexico, Charlotte stuck around, becoming the primary financial driver of Houston’s entire construction industry, bankrolling the navy and building the short-lived Capitol of the Republic of Texas to boot.
“The Mother of Houston” donated countless leagues of public land — even though as a woman she did not legally own any herself — including the site used for the first City Hall (now Downtown’s Market Square Park) and plots to civic organizations. Local flags flew at half-staff when she died in 1895 at the age of 91. And, with the exception of an elementary school and a steamer that cruises along Buffalo Bayou, Charlotte’s been largely forgotten in the narrative of Houston as the years rolled on and the city grew.
C. Baldwin aims to pay homage to the deedless developer, brand-wielding cattle rancher, brash businesswoman and tireless philanthropist. Former Houston first lady Andrea White called her “the kick-ass woman” who paved the way for a long tradition of trailblazing women leaving a permanent mark on the Third Coast.
The newly revamped hotel will serve as a social anchor Allen Center, and a hospitality gateway to the city at the axis of Downtown, Midtown, and Buffalo Bayou Park. In addition to the guestrooms and common spaces that pay tribute to Houston’s past, the property will include a luxury nail salon, curated local retailers, and activated green space that will offer guests and visitors a dynamic experience.
The hotel is part of an ongoing, multimillion-dollar reimagining of Allen Center. Phase I of the was unveiled in fall 2017, while the next phases encompass the addition of targeted retail and restaurant tenants plus further building upgrades and amenity enhancements that foster a robust, pedestrian-friendly environment.
Houston-based construction firm Tellepsen and Dallas-based architecture firm Morrison Dilworth + Walls are responsible for the exterior curtain wall work. Turner Construction is the interior general contractor, and Atlanta-based DesignOne is the architect of record for the interior work.
“Houston has some excellent hotels, but none that are emblematic of the city it has somewhat discreetly become, which is to say a bootstrapping economic powerhouse and global hub that just happens to be wildly diverse, wonderfully eccentric and exceedingly cosmopolitan,” says Maggie Rosa, general manager of C. Baldwin, in a statement. “We felt it was high time to introduce a hospitality experience that would truly embody one of our country’s most evolving destinations while honoring an awe-inspiring female pioneer.”