At one time Gabe’s Tower was the hottest spot in town for nightlife and modestly priced lodging.
It’s since become one of the biggest eyesores in Owensboro.
Today it’s 23 stories of rusted metal, broken glass, and fractured brick, and the subject of this week’s Tri-State Treasures.
Long time western Kentucky resident Steve Baker shares what once made the iconic location so popular with travelers and residents alike.
“Swimming pool on top, great bar downstairs, and then Gabe’s Restaurant with a great bar, so this end of town was thriving because of this tower,” says Baker.
When constructed in 1963, Gabe’s Tower was at the time the tallest building in Kentucky west of Louisville.
The odd cylinder shape and loud pastel color scheme allowed the 125-foot building to stick out among a cityscape comprised mostly of one and two-story structures.
Once known as Owensboro’s unofficial ambassador Gabe Fiorella Senior was the visionary behind the beloved tower.
Positioning a well-established restaurant and cocktail lounge below. But his vision would fade over the years as Gabe’s Tower would eventually fall under new ownership at the end of the 1970s.
Only to get a face-lift when it became a Best Western in the 1980s. But even that didn’t last.
“They wanted to turn it into a senior living facility and that didn’t work. Then somebody else bought it from Texas or California and tried to revitalize it but look at it. It just can’t be done,” says Baker.
Over the years urban blight has crept closer to the 18th and Triplet addresses eventually discouraging potential contractors from taking on what would certainly be a pricey project.
A closer look from above shows the decay and dangers the building now poses – to a community looking to improve the area.
Gabe’s Tower is no longer in the crosshairs of investors but instead those looking to blow it up.
One thing often mentioned within memories of the moto-lodge a fancy lounge is known as the palatine room and an enclosed top floor swimming pool with a retractable glass roof.
As the City of Owensboro sifts through bids for the eventual demolition of the iconic structure one item will be still standing after the dust settles a well-preserved statue of the building’s visionary – Gabe Fiorella Senior waving at visitors as a reminder of this soon to be lost.