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Bertie’s on the Rooftop serves seasonal dishes and bright  cocktails.

Featured Article

A Modern Classic

Chip and Joanna Gaines invested in and transformed Waco's landscape with the revitalization of one of the city's historic landmarks.

Article by Gabi De la Rosa

Photography by Photography courtesy of Hotel 1928

Originally published in Memorial Lifestyle

Nestled in the heart of Waco is the newly opened Hotel 1928, a collaborative venture between Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines and hospitality company AJ Capital Partners. The hotel is a historic restoration and adaptive reuse of the former Grand Karem Shrine Building, a landmark of Waco's historical and cultural landscape. 

Many may have seen the hotel come to life during the couple's show, Fixer Upper: The Hotel. Named after the year of its completion, Hotel 1928 offers 33 guest rooms, two food and beverage outlets, a café, over 6,600 square feet of event space, a rooftop terrace, and a retail shop featuring exclusive Magnolia-designed merchandise. 


The 1920s agricultural boom in Waco spurred significant expansion, leading to the construction of the Karem Shrine Temple building by the local Shriners chapter. Designed by Dallas architects with Wacoan support, the building reflects Middle Eastern and Moorish architectural influences and was a landmark in Waco for decades. After 75 years of being the go-to place for social gatherings, the building's energy faded until the Gaines rediscovered it. 

Architecture & Design

In 2020, Chip, Joanna, and AJ Capital Partners started their journey to reimagine the historic building. Over four years, they transformed it into a boutique hotel that embodies the spirit and values of the Magnolia brand while retaining its Moorish Revival and Spanish Revival elements. The restoration retains historic features such as arched entryways, clay tile roofs, and ornate stonework.

"When we first toured the nearly one-hundred-year-old building, we were amazed by the unique architecture and how much of it was still intact. We knew then that this project would require a thoughtful approach to design, where old meets new, and that our choices would need to be period appropriate but also feel decidedly Magnolia," said Joanna in a Magnolia blog post. "Being that the property was built in 1928, we had a lot of fun leaning into that golden age of American culture when anticipation was in the air and the future felt bright. We intentionally chose colors and materials that sparked a sort of nostalgia for those roaring twenties."

The lobby boasts restored terrazzo flooring, plaster walls, transom windows, and Moorish-style arches, while the rooftop addition seamlessly blends with the original structure, offering sweeping views of Waco. Design details like French striped wallpaper and furniture reflect the building's heritage and charm.

The renovation, coordinated with historic preservation authorities, earned landmark status with the National Register of Historic Places, preserving its architectural legacy for future generations.

In typical Joanna Gaines style, no detail was overlooked. Many of the items in the hotel are custom-made, from the furniture to the robes and slippers and even the scent that wafts throughout the hotel – guests at Hotel 1928 are in for a truly bespoke experience. 

Dining & Amenities

The Brasserie at Hotel 1928 offers an elevated dining experience, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a seasonal menu of reimagined Texas comfort food. Bertie's on the Rooftop imbued with nostalgic charm, serves lighter, Texas-inspired dishes alongside delicious cocktails. With indoor and outdoor seating, guests can enjoy al fresco dining with views of downtown Waco.

Guests at Hotel 1928 will have a warm, welcoming experience with a touch of luxury, including Le Labo Bath amenities, custom Sferra sheets, and Dyson hair dryers. The hotel offers pet-friendly accommodations, morning coffee (delivered daily), and a turndown service. The hotel also boasts a two-story library with hundreds of books from the bookstore of notable Texas author Larry McMurtry. 

"So much of the work we do at Magnolia begins from a place of hospitality and a heart for making people feel at home, and this hotel feels like an extension of that intention," said Joanna. "Throughout the design and renovation journey, our team poured a lot of time and passion into telling the story of our town and finding ways to make guests feel that sense of warmth and belonging. So, we hope everyone who steps inside this hotel will experience that and feel right at home."

"When you step inside, we really want it to feel like you're stepping back in time, and that every space would feel like permission to get swept up in that nostalgia, whether you're dining in one of the restaurants, playing a game of chess in the library, or relaxing in your room." – Joanna Gaines

"We knew then that this project would require a thoughtful approach to design, where old meets new, and that our choices would need to be period appropriate but also feel decidedly Magnolia." – Joanna Gaines

  • Named after the year the building was completed, Hotel 1928 offers 33 guest rooms.
  • Hotel 1928 has two food and beverage outlets and a café, all owned and operated by AJ Capital and designed by the Gaineses.
  • With two wrap-around staircases, the Library welcomes guests to comfortably gather among book-lined walls, Chesterfield sofas, and wingback chairs.
  • Hotel 1928 maintains the buildings original facade, including bricks.
  • Bertie’s on the Rooftop serves seasonal dishes and bright  cocktails.
  • Many of the historic details of the hotel's entryway were kept intact.
  • In 2020, Chip and Joanna Gaines and AJ Capital Partners partnered to re-envision this historic building to crPhoto courtesy of Magnolia Discovery Ventures, LLC
  • For nearly a century, the building has been a place where people gather to rest, find inspiration, and celebrPhoto courtesy of Magnolia Discovery Ventures, LLC