There's been a flurry of controversy surrounding the Herring Hotel in Downtown Amarillo.

The recent bankruptcy filing of the Herring Hotel Development Company raises the question of what the future holds for the decaying historic structure. Now, there has always been a heated debate as to whether the Herring should be saved or bulldozed.

Asbestos. Ghosts. Insanely high cost. Nothing truly historical left inside. More asbestos. Burn it down. Save the basement, then raze it.

While many of the criticisms of saving the Herring carry the weight of truth, it should be pointed out that all the same disparaging remarks (and much worse) were once said of The Barfield.

The Barfield

Google Maps (2017 & 2023)
Google Maps (2017 & 2023)

It's easy to forget how recently it was that the Barfield and the Herring were considered the twin blights of Downtown Amarillo. It's even easier to forget the uncanny parallels in their respective histories.

Located at 600 S Polk, the Barfield was built in 1927 and was the city's first skyscraper. My father has a business card from the early 1990s that lists the address for his law office at The Barfield, so it was occupied until the mid- to late-1990s at least.


  • The Barfield is purchased by Metro Tower, a real estate holding company.


  • April: Developers announce a $4.7 million project intended to restore the Barfield as loft apartments with a ground-floor restaurant, bank branch, and other amenities
  • December: Funding for Metro Tower runs dry. Demolition work comes to a halt.


  • No construction work is carried out
  • May: Metro Tower lists the Barfield for sale for $1.75 million
  • October: The city commissioners move to condemn the Barfield as a public nuisance
  • December: Condemnation is halted when the initial developer obtains a building permit. Construction is valued at $6 million.
Google Maps
Google Maps (2007)


  • Metro Tower receives tax rebates as part of the city's economic development incentives.
  • Construction is intermittent


  • Metro Tower pulls out of agreement with city.
Google Maps
Google Maps


  • The Herring Hotel is purchased and talks of a renovation are underway (this soon falls through as well)
  • Amarillo company attempts to force a sheriff's sale of The Barfield due to developer's debt of $320,000 following a civil judgement.
  • July: Metro Tower files for bankruptcy, preventing The Barfield from going to auction.
  • October: The Barfield is saved from the auction block once again by an investor, RLH Amarillo, who pays the $320,000 debt.


  • March: Foreclosure sale requested by RLH Amarillo in a Dallas district court. Sale cancelled after resolution is reached with Metro Tower.
Google Maps
Google Maps

The Barfield was eventually put in the hands of the right investors. After nearly three decades of wild twists and turns, the Barfield finally laid claim on its second chance at life as a hotel in 2021.

It took time. It took money. It took trials and tribulations. But the Barfield has been restored.

And What of The Herring Hotel?

As the fate of the Herring Hotel hangs in the balance, we would be served well to consider the journey of The Barfield's restoration.

And if the Barfield can rise from the rubble of decay and red tape like a phoenix, why can the same not be done for The Herring Hotel?

Only time will tell.

LOOK: The Barfield Through the Years

Check out the Barfield Building's transition from 'eyesore' to 'eyeshine', thanks to the magic of Google Maps!

Gallery Credit: Sarah Clark/TSM

The Barfield Hotel: At The Heart of Historic Route 66 and Polk Street

The Barfield Hotel was built into a historic building in Downtown Amarillo that shows some of the charm of the Panhandle while remembering the days of speakeasies and prohibition

Gallery Credit: Michael Rivera

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