Caroline Rose Hunt, daughter of legendary oil tycoon H.L. Hunt, is being remembered today. According to the Associated Press, Dallas’ hotel- and restaurant-founding queen, died on Monday, after suffering a stroke on Oct. 31. Even as obituaries proclaim the lifetime achievements of Stan Lee, another legend who died at 95, Dallas is called to contemplate almost a century of its embodied history.
The woman who would at her height command a net worth of $1 billion, bought the Sheppard King estate—with Italianate Renaissance-style architecture and the first private elevator in the city—to create, in 1981, The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. (The company she founded to run it, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, was established in 1979.) Some of the city’s most high-profile, influential chefs, Dean Fearing, John Tesar, and Bruno Davaillon, trained others in their kitchen and sent sumptuous dishes out to a converted library and Spanish-tiled patio Garden Room.
To found The Crescent, Hunt bought a piece of land in Uptown, and on what used to be a car lot arose the bones of a Philip Johnson building whose architecture is now just as iconic.
One angle many may not be familiar with but also speaks to deep Texas roots came out recently. In a feature we published this year on butchers in Dallas, we highlighted The Meat Shop, the direct, sunny retail source for Rosewood Ranches in Ennis, which raises Wagyu beef and supports wetlands restoration and is owned by the Hunt family.
Hunt’s Rosewood Hotels & Resorts was sold to New World Hospitality (now Rosewood Hotel Group) in 2011.
Hunt is survived by five children, 19 grandchildren, and 23 grandchildren.
In a piece D Magazine published about the Mansion in 1997, writer Kimberly Goad offered a how-to of steps to run “American’s Best Hotel”: “Step #1: Attract the top tier, and all the rest will follow.” This could be an epigram for Hunt’s life.
The Crescent has released a statement that speaks to their founder:
“Crescent is saddened to learn of the passing of Caroline Rose Hunt, and our deepest condolences go to the family. Mrs. Hunt was a bold and visionary leader who built the most iconic building in Dallas, The Crescent, which launched what has now become Uptown Dallas. Known for her extraordinary graciousness, she led the hospitality and real estate industries in establishing world-class service in every project she touched.
“Several of our employees started their careers with her, and her passion for top-quality customer service is the bedrock that drives Crescent’s culture today. She will be greatly missed.”
For a closer look at Hunt’s business legacy and an anecdote about the Mansion’s iconic tortilla soup, read this obit published for D CEO.