The Cotton Palace Bed & Breakfast

1910 Austin Avenue, Waco, Texas 76701
Innkeeper(s): Becky Hodges, Owner/Innkeeper; Dutch & Betty Schroeder, Owners
  • Introduction

    The Cotton Palace Bed & Breakfast frontThe Cotton Palace Bed & Breakfast, located at 1910 Austin Avenue, was designed by Roy Elspeth Lane for the W.H. Johnson family. Mr. Lane was the premiere Waco architect during the early 1900s. A very large, 100 year old pecan tree graces our back yard (tree on left side of picture). Every two years (including this year) we have a big crop of pecans. We use the pecans in our baking, but we have so many that we shell them and package them with our Cotton Palace label.

  • Insider's Info

    Travelers are always looking for memorable and relaxing experiences. Let’s discover more through the words of our innkeepers. Many thanks to Becky Hodges for sharing her own secrets with!
    Why do most travelers stay at your inn?

    Since opening 14 years ago, a majority of our guests are now repeat. Many have shared their compliments with us - they mention such things as: the beautiful total renovation of the house, the wonderful gourmet breakfasts, attention to detail, personal service, cleanliness of the entire property, great location to everything in Waco, and feeling like they've "come home". Our first time guests mention that they chose us because of our outstanding reviews on Trip Adviser, great personal recommendations from our previous guests, web site pictures, articles in magazines or newspapers and close proximity to everything in Waco.

    What are you best known for? What makes your inn unique? What do you love most about your inn?

    We are known for our hospitality and quality and great food that includes our delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies. I believe what sets us apart from other B & B's in the area is our property, attention to detail, personal service and prime location. We have beautiful, comfortable bedrooms and commons areas for the guests to enjoy - they also love our big front porch and well lit brick patio. What do I love the most? That's easy - we have the greatest guests!

    If someone has never been to your city, what is the #1 reason to come visit?

    Waco has outstanding attractions and venues for all ages and it's in a beautiful setting built around the Brazos River.

    What’s the best compliment you have ever received about the inn?

    Hard to pick out one particular compliment but I guess it's always great to hear or read in the guest books that "The Cotton Palace is the best B & B we have ever stayed". I never get tired of hearing that!

    What’s the best kept secret about the area?

    Most guests are surprised that there is so much to do in the area. They say they can't do everything in one weekend - they will have to come back.

    If a traveler is staying at your inn for 4 nights, what should he/she do in the area?

    Without question - here are the most visited sites by tourists in Waco:
    Texas Ranger Museum, Dr. Pepper Museum, Mammoth Site, Homestead Heritage, Waco Suspension Bridge, Mayborn Museum, Texas Sports Hall of Fame, Baylor University, Cameron Park, Waco Natural Habitat Zoo, Waco historic homes, antique shops, activities on the Brazos River or Lake Waco and wineries

    Is there anything within walking distance of your inn?

    There are antique shops within 2 blocks of our property.

    What is your favorite restaurant/food in the area?

    Waco has a number of locally owned restaurants that our guests enjoy: Diamondbacks, 135 Prime, La Fiesta, Uncle Dan's barbecue, Vitek's barbecue and 1424 Bistro on Washington. All are very close to The Cotton Palace.

    Any good area guides/websites that travelers could reference?

    The Waco convention and tourism bureau web site -
    Chisholm Crossing web site - This is a great site about everything happening particularly in the downtown Waco / Brazos River area.

    How many rooms does your inn have?

    We have 6 guest rooms.

    Do you accept pets?

    We do not accept pets but a number of our guests have boarded their pets at Dogtopia in Waco - about 5 minutes away.


  • Waco Attractions

    • The Dr. Pepper Museum - Dr. Pepper was invented by a Wacoan and the museum is housed in the original bottling plant
    • Texas Ranger Museum - The original enforcers of Texas laws (not the baseball team) has a most unique collection of the old west
    • Cameron Park Zoo - A natural habitat
    • Strecker Museum - A natural history museum
    • Governor Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village
    • Historic Homes Tour
    • The McCulloch House - One of many historic Waco homes

    Amanda's Room

    Living Room

  • The Innkeepers

    In renoDining Roomvating this beautiful old home we originally thought of the opportunity we had to share that beauty with others, but our greatest joy now comes from sharing the rich history of Waco through the story of the house, the architect and its owners.

    "We invite you to stop by and share the story with us."

    Owner/Innkeeper Becky Schroeder Hodges, as well as Innkeepers Dutch and Betty Schroeder have spent much of their lives living and working in Waco.  All three have retired as educators to spend time sharing their love of Texas and Waco with guests.  Dutch spent 42 years in he Health/Physical education department at Baylor and is eager to share his Baylor experiences with potential new students and their families. There is no better way to experience Waco and all it has to offer then through the suggestions of the locals. Enjoy a warm Texas welcome and let the innkeepers share their little piece of central Texas with you.

  • Breakfast

    BreakfastThe B & B experience is unique for many reasons but a special treat is the beginning of each new day creating new friendships and sharing conversation while enjoying a wonderful breakfast around the dining room table.  If you choose, you could enjoy the same gourmet breakfast in the privacy of your own room (offered only in Eren’s Suite, Amanda’s Room or The Carriage House).

    Breakfast is usually served between 8 and 9 but may be served earlier or later with prior arrangements.  If you need to leave without being able to eat – we would be happy to prepare our Early Bird Brown Bag special.  That would include fruit, a fresh home baked treat and a “cup to go” of our fresh brewed coffee or juice. Breakfast entrees vary every day from sweet to savory.  Just let us know prior to your arrival if you need us to modify your breakfast to accommodate any special dietary needs.  We are happy to offer vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and other specially prepared breakfasts for you.

  • Room Amenities

    • white bathroomEach room or suite is uniquely decorated with lovely antiques
    • Sumptuous triple-sheeted beds and down comforters
    • Luxurious jetted tubs for one or two in some rooms
    • Handmade soaps
    • Cozy bathrobes
    • Iron and ironing board
    • Hair dryers
    • Gourmet breakfast every morning
    • Home made snacks and drinks available throughout the day
    • Cable TV with DVD players
    • Convenient free wireless internet access available in all rooms
    • Smoke-free environment
    • Convenient on-site parking
  • History and Renovation of The Cotton Palace

    dining roomWhat started out as a change of life business venture has resulted in an renewed awareness of the uniqueness of my hometown. As a lifelong resident of Waco I am just now discovering its rich heritage. Less than two years ago my sister and I were looking to buy a house close to the downtown area to use as a bed and breakfast. It was fate that took us on a drive down Austin Avenue. We had become discouraged because we couldn't find anything that we liked. We didn't know exactly know what we were looking for - we just knew we would know it when we saw it. And sure enough there it was at 1910 Austin Avenue. A house I had been in many times and had always loved had a For Sale sign in front of it. We realized immediately that this was what we had been looking for. What we had yet to discover was the historical significance of what had once been one of Waco's finest homes. While the renovation was in progress I began to research the history of the house.

    The house at 1910 was designed by Roy Elspeth Lane for the W.H. Johnson family. Mr. Lane was the premiere Waco architect during the early 1900's. His best-known work was the Amicable Building which still dominates the Waco skyline. He designed many of Waco's landmark downtown buildings. The Raleigh Hotel, the Hippodrome, Nash Robinson, First Baptist Church, and St. Francis on the Brazos are examples we can still see today. Unfortunately, many of Mr. Lane's designs have been destroyed. He designed the Huaco Clubhouse, the Waco Opera House, the State House Hotel, and the Archenhold Building. A few prominent Waco families were fortunate to have Mr. Lane design their homes. The Sanger brothers, S.P. McLendon and Wm. W. Cameron homes are gone but you can see his touch at 1910 and The Castle. He wasn't the original architect of The Castle. He was brought in after the original architect left.

    At the height of cotton production in the South, all roads led to Waco. Farmers gathered here to have their cotton bales shipped to all corners of the world. To honor the "cash crop" of the area, Wacoans established the Texas Cotton Palace Exposition. It was a three week festival of exhibits, demonstrations, and social events. The name of our bed and breakfast - The Cotton Palace - comes from the fact that Roy E. Lane was the architect hired by prominent Waco businessmen in 1910 to rebuild The Cotton Palace. The original Cotton Palace at 13th and Clay opened in 1894 but was destroyed by fire 6 months after it opened. Mr. Lane was building the house at 1910 Austin Avenue the same year he was redesigning The Cotton Palace. The Texas Cotton Palace Exposition was held every year until the early 1930's but ended when cotton prices began to fall. The tradition was revived in recent years and includes the Cotton Palace Pageant and Brazos River Festival held the last weekend in April.

    Dwayne Jones, assistant director of the Texas Historical Commission in Austin, included the house at 1910 in a lecture he gave on historic buildings in Waco. "People outside Waco dismiss Waco because they think a lot of it's gone," he said referring to the legendary May 1953 tornado that demolished several downtown buildings. "But a large number of historic buildings in Waco still remain." He cited the house at 1910 for its Arts and Crafts style. Our renovation has restored many of the distinct characteristics of that style. Most notably, the original green Rookwood tile fireplace that through the years been painted a variety of colors, the original light fixtures, the brass door knocker, the ceiling beams and woodwork.

    Not only is the house at 1910 distinctive because of the architect and style but many prominent Waco families have lived in the house. It was built for William H. Johnson. He and his father, C.L. Johnson, owned a large lumber company at 8th and Clay. The younger Johnson moved to California in 1917 and sold the house to the Staton family. They lived there until 1946 when J.D. Metz and his wife Margaret moved in with their family. G.A. Durham of Durham Business College moved in during 1962. During that time it was a private residence and then became a series of kindergartens. The Roane M. Lacy, Jr. family took possession of the house in 1973. It remained a private residence until a partnership opened a retail establishment called The Austin Arrangement in 1980. It operated for several years until a new owner opened Max's restaurant in the house. William and Doreen Ravenscroft opened a retail flower shop in the house in 1985. They sold the house to my sister and me in August of 1998.

    In renovating this beautiful old home we originally thought of the opportunity we had to share that beauty with others, but our greatest joy now comes from sharing the rich history of Waco through the story of the house, the architect and its owners at 1910 Austin Avenue. We invite you to stop by and share the story with us.

  • How to Find Us

    From Interstate 35 Southbound:

    1. Take exit 334 (17th/18th Street)
    2. Turn right on 17th Street
    3. Go 1.1 miles
    4. Turn left on Austin Avenue
    5. Then get in the right lane because the left lane has to turn left at 18th Street
    6. The Cotton Palace is 2 1/2 blocks on the left at 1910 Austin Avenue

    From Interstate 35 Northbound:

    1. Take exit 334 (17th/18th Street)
    2. On the access road go past 18th Street and take a left on 17th Street
    3. Go 1.1 miles
    4. Turn left on Austin Avenue
    5. Then get in the right lane because the left lane has to turn left at 18th Street
    6. The Cotton Palace is 2 1/2 blocks on the left at 1910 Austin Avenue