Howard Bland, Andrew Zilker, and the Blazilmar

Back before Thanksgiving (which somehow already seems an eternity ago) we discussed how Howard Bland was responsible for the construction of the original Howard theater (which was located across the street from the current Howard).

But that’s not the only place his name shows up in Taylor! You just might not recognize it…

The Hotel Blazilmar or Blazilmar Hotel building is located at the corner of First and Porter, just across the street from the Amtrak station. These days it’s unfortunately abandoned, but it sure would look good if restored!

At some point around early 1917, three partners purchased the Murphy Hotel at First and Porter (this building preceded the existing building; it was three stories rather than four). Those men were Howard Bland, Andrew Zilker, and T.W. Marse. Each of them contributed the first three letters of their last name to their new venture (Bla – Zil – Mar).*

I’m unsure when the current building was completed, or when it was abandoned (do any of you Taylor folks know?) but my uneducated guess is that the construction dates to the late 1930s.

You can see a photo of the old Murphy/Blazilmar building, as well as a 1943 postcard showing the current building here:

Incidentally, the Blazilmar wasn’t Zilker’s first venture in Taylor. He had previously purchased the Taylor Water Company’s water plant in late 1910.** (Zilker was also involved with the water system in Llano, where you can still see a chimney on the south side of the Llano river with his surname, and his surname is also well known in Austin, where Zilker Park honors him for his substantial contributions to that city.)

Note: Originally I had the spelling as “Blazimar” instead of “Blazilmar” – many thanks to John Shelton for correcting that on Facebook (as well as posting some lovely historical photos of the building and signs advertising it there)!

* Some sources say that Andrew Aristides Zizinia II, aka John Thomas Zizinia (who was also a Taylor businessman) was one of the partners instead of Zilker, but the March 8, 1917 edition of the “Engineering Record” contains a notice from Bland, Zilker, and Marse who are seeking bids for improvements to their three-story hotel in Taylor, so it’s definitely Zilker. The attempt to make “Zizinia” work with the name may be the source of the incorrect “Blazimar” spelling that I’ve seen in several places (and I inadvertently perpetuated for a short time in this article).

** See the December 15, 1910 edition of “The Iron Age.”

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