Western Trips

Western Trips

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Menger Hotel / A San Antonio Texas Historic Hotel

Take a short half block stroll just to the south of the Alamo in San Antonio Texas and you'll come to the Menger Hotel, a hotel built by German immigrant William Menger who moved to Texas at the age of twenty in the 1840's. His first residence in Texas was a San Antonio boarding house operated by Mary Guenther. William Menger would go on to build a brewery with a man named Charles Degen in 1856 and a hotel which was essentially across the street from the Alamo. Menger by trade was a barrel maker and Degen a brewmaster.

menger hotel san antonio
Menger Hotel, San Antonio, TX
The Menger Hotel, opened in 1859 on the site of the old Menger Brewery, the first brewery in Texas, was said by some to be "the finest hotel west of the Mississippi River". Indeed, in 1859 there weren't a great number of fine hotels west of the Mississippi River. Menger's idea for building the hotel arose from the many visitors he had to his brewery. At the time he operated a boarding house and decided to expand it into a full fledged hotel. Menger's new hotel brought to Texas it's first truly sophisticated frontier hotel. The Menger opened just twenty-three years after the historic battle at the Alamo.

Interesting Facts About San Antonio's Menger Hotel

San Antonio's Menger Hotel had many notable guests in it's earlier years, such as Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. The hotels guests over the years included presidents of which included Theodore Roosevelt who, prior to his presidential years, used the Menger Hotel facilities to recruit Rough Riders for his campaign in Cuba during the Spanish American War.The Menger Hotel was also where Richard King, founder of the massive King Ranch in southeast Texas died in 1885.

The invention of barbed wire also had a Menger Hotel connection. It's been said that the first public demonstration of barbed wire took place outside of the hotel. Impressed prospects then went inside the hotel to place their orders. As we know, barbed wire changed the ranching industry for ever.

Menger Hotel lobby
The Menger Hotel in the Twentieth Century

During the twentieth century a few of the hotel's notable guests included the baseball star Babe Ruth, the Hollywood celebrity Mae West and the famous businessman Cornelius Vanderbilt. Also visits from Dwight D. Eisenhower and Oscar Wilde.

Since it's beginning in 1859 the Menger Hotel has undergone restorations and enlargements. Today the historic Texas hotel is comprised of 316 rooms and suites and claims to have San Antonio's largest heated swimming pool.

The Menger Hotel was sold to Texas businessman William Lewis Moody Jr. in 1920. At the time of the acquisition Moody owned other hotels operating under the National Hotel Company name. This hotel company also operated two hotels in Galveston Texas. During Moody's father's lifetime he had entered the banking business and the cotton business. Both were successful endeavors.

menger hotel texas
Central garden area
When Moody Jr's father died in 1920 he inherited the  W. L. Moody and Company, Bankers, and the W. L. Moody Cotton Company. As a side note, Moody Sr. acquired the National Bank of Texas, which became the W. L. Moody Bank. In 1907 Moody opened the City National Bank, which later became Moody National Bank.

When Moody Jr. purchased the Menger Hotel in 1920 he had quite a lot of commercial interests throughout the state of Texas. William Lewis Moody Jr. was a Democrat and for years supported and had close ties with William Jennings Bryan.

Additional Western Trips photo articles of San Antonio Texas sites to see areon the links below...

The San Antonio Spanish Missions

The Guenther House and Pioneer Flour Mill

A World Class Austin Texas Museum

Visit the Menger Hotel

The Menger Hotel today is one of the finest hotels in San Antonio Texas. Located adjacent to the Alamo historical site, if you're not staying at the Menger you should at least try make a short stop at the hotel and see how beautifully restored it is.

I'm sure you've heard about some of the old historic hotels that have reputations as being haunted. Add the Menger Hotel to this list. Some say that the Menger is the most haunted hotel in Texas. Included in the hauntings are reportedly Texas rancher Richard King who passed away at the Menger and a maid at the hotel who was murdered by her husband. King's funeral was held in the parlor of the Menger Hotel.

historic sites san antonio texas
Menger Hotel front entrance
Hotel guests over the decades have reported strange occurrences including sudden coldness, odd smells and apparitions appearing in mirrors. Guests visiting the Richard King suite have reported pages flipping on a tabled book for no apparent reason. Some of the sightings reported of King today has him trying to enter his old room. Claims of his sighting have been reported by both hotel guests and employees.

The maid who was murdered at the hotel, Sallie White, is said to have been seen in the hallways of the hotel's Victorian wing. People have reported seeing her in a long grey skirt carrying towels which are never delivered. The uniform the maid has been seeing wearing is of the style used during the late 1800's. 

The Menger Hotel is located  in downtown San Antonio Texas at 204 Alamo Plaza. The Menger Hotel is also just one block from San Antonio's popular River Walk which is a great place for a stroll and a ride on the picturesque river.

A good book on the subject of San Antonio's Menger Hotel is The History and Mystery of the Menger Hotel by author Docia Schultz Williams.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 Western Trips)

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