Cole Manor Motel opened in 1946 as the El Sombrero Motor Courts on 1.66 acres as a motor hotel along Harry Hines Boulevard. The design of the motel is attributed to the prolific architect Charles Stevens Dilbeck, who designed many other similar motels along with houses of all sizes around Dallas. As typically of the period the motel was designed with rooms surrounding the edge of the property in a U-shape and facing inward to a “motor court” where guests would drive into and park their cars in a garage next to their rooms, a popular concept for the time and motoring traveler. In the center of the motor court was a pool and a two-story block of guest rooms built at the rear of the site. The motel design is reminiscent of Dilbeck’s rambling Ranch style architecture with asymmetrical facades of brick with varying roof lines and quirky details mixed in like dovecotes, diamond and octagonal shaped windows, and decorative lattice brickwork. Over time the motel has been modified as the former garages have been filled in for rooms and the drive-through entrance roof removed.
The property still operates as a motel; however, the years of use have taken a toll on the building with the transient nature of its clientele. Due to the proximity to the Medical and Design Districts and the revitalized area along Inwood Road near Love Field, additional pressure will come to redevelop the area and smaller older properties on big sites, like the motel, will be ripe for redevelopment. Cole Manor is also at a busy and highly visible intersection making it more desirable for redevelopment. There are few motels left in Dallas from the 1940s with such a quirky and interesting design and all the more important with being attributed to a prolific and unique Dallas architect.