Waco will be 175-years-old in 2024! Several local companies have shaped our city for the past century. We have already covered businesses running since the 1800s. Now we want to share some Waco businesses that have been going strong since they started between 1900-1930.
My great-grandmother’s journal included visiting the “new Hippodrome Theatre” while at Baylor University. In its 100+ year history, the Spanish Colonial style building has hosted vaudeville acts (including trained seals), first-run and classic films, plays, live music, comedy and more.
“It has hosted just about everyone you can imagine… Louis Armstrong, Elvis, Paul Simon, Wynonna Judd…,” Aaron Konzelman said. “Artists love it because it was built for this and has a huge x-factor for acoustics.”
In the new “music district” of Waco, the Hippodrome is one of the largest capacity concert venues in town (800+) and has an iconic Vaudeville style theater that is one of the few in the nation still in operation.
It appeals to a wide variety of audiences from contemporary Christian fans to comedy, iconic legends that people remember from the 70s-90s. It even draws in ghost hunters when a projection room fire accident landed it on the national register as a haunted building.
A staple of historic Waco businesses, the building still hosts concerts, has a restaurant, newly opened bars and is open to other entrepreneurs renting space.
Waco Farm and Labor Journal – early 1900s
Frances Pitillo ran the journal and sold it to the Jones family (who still run it) in the 60’s.
Debra Tumlin with Jones Printing said, “It was labor news and farming news, but lately it’s mainly labor news and legal notices.”
The subscription-only journal has continued to run as a legacy for each former owner.
Tumlin remembers how it was printed decades ago. “It was fun doing the handset type… by hand, one letter at a time.”
If you are interested in subscribing for $22/year, call 254-753-3871.
When you think of historic Waco businesses, Casa De Castillo certainly comes to mind. Antonio P. Castillo, Sr. opened the first Castillo restaurant, The Texas Café, downtown in 1922. Its popularity led to more restaurants opening, even introducing pizza to Waco for the men at James Connally Air Force Base.
Antonio P. Castillo, Jr. moved Casa de Castillo to its current location in 1982 due to town growth. Siblings Antonio III, Richard and Mary Lou Castillo continue to offer a dining experience with 100-year-old Tex-Mex recipes and family-friendly hospitality.
“This is not just food. It’s a dining experience…. Once you come through our door one time you’re family,” Mary Lou Castillo said. “When we have babies, I’ve seen them go from a high chair up to graduating high school and college…. My brother has seated 4 generations.”
Castillo said the employees are like family, “We’re going to continue this as long as we possibly can…. I want to keep it a family atmosphere and keep the employees we have.”
The restaurant has had two generations of owners awarded “Company of the Year” by the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and is a must-visit location for all newcomers.
Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home has been run by five generations of the family.
President Hatch Bailey said it started with his great-grandfather Wilkirson’ making coffins for close friends from his lumberyard in Eddy which was supplied lumber by his great-grandfather Hatch in Lorena. Their children married and the family started a funeral home in downtown Waco. Bailey was deeply impacted by his grandparents passing within 10 days of each other. He started working in the funeral home and became a manager when he was 25. It became a deeper ministry after the passing of his wife. One of his sons has since joined the family ministry. Watch Hatch’s testimony and calling to the Funeral Ministry.
WHB has supported thousands of families in celebrating the lives of loved ones. They moved to a central location in 2000 where every detail was carefully considered, right down to the curated art with special meanings and moments of reflection. A bull rider is one example Bailey uses to encourage families “to hang on for eight seconds”.
The mantle in the foyer is inscribed with Joshua 24:15, which Bailey says has led to the company’s longevity in the community through trials, pain and celebration. It has been supported by what he learned was “stick-to-it-tiveness” and gumption.
“There will always be a place in the community for a funeral home that serves the way the Lord wants us to serve,” Bailey said. “I get a front row seat for how people in Waco care for one another.”
The funeral home personalizes every ceremony to fit the family, including pets if desired and live streaming.
Three generations have owned Reed’s Flowers. It started as a shop two doors down from its current location that sold the flowers Albert Henry and Blanche Reed grew in their Lacy Lakeview greenhouse.
They provide floral arrangements and gifts for any occasion. Albert Harry Reed (Albert and Blanche’s son), especially loved putting together wedding arrangements.
Owner Debbie Reed said her father was a large factor in the store’s longevity. “Daddy had a fun sense of humor and funny jokes…. He knew everybody and everybody knew him.”
Her grandfather was president of the Texas State Florists Association in ‘42 and her father was the president in ‘62.
Reed said, “It’s an honor” to carry the legacy…. My goal is to keep us going until we’re at least 100.”
Let’s encourage these incredible Waco businesses to continue to impact the fabric of our community! No matter how much time passes, they have the ability to truly make a mark on all of us as Wacoans!