A Guide to the Menger Hotel (San Antonio, Tex.) Register, 1874
The Menger Hotel was originally developed by William A. Menger, a German immigrant who arrived in the United States in 1847 and settled in San Antonio, pursuing his previous work as a cooper and brewer. In 1855, Menger and Charles Phillip Degen opened a brewery, reportedly the first in Texas, on the plaza adjacent to the Alamo in San Antonio. That same year, William and his wife Mary moved their boarding house to Alamo Plaza from its original location on the northwest corner of St. Mary’s and Commerce Streets. Menger acquired additional land around the Plaza as his business grew and in 1858 began construction of what would be known as the Menger Hotel. Local architect John M. Fries is credited with designing the original structure of the Menger, a two-story cut-stone building, and John Hermann Kampmann oversaw construction of the project. The Hotel opened on 1859 February 1.
By the mid-1800s, and especially after the railroad arrived in San Antonio in 1877, the Menger became the best-known hotel in the Southwest. The Hotel was a center of San Antonio social affairs and a meeting-place for visiting celebrities including poet Sidney Lanier and author Oscar Wilde; generals Philip H. Sheridan and Robert E. Lee; baseball legend Babe Ruth; sculptor Gutzon Borglum; actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Mae West; performers William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and Annie Oakley; and Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton. Notable events to occur at the Hotel include the death of Richard King, the south Texas entrepreneur and founder of the King Ranch, in 1885; Theodore Roosevelt's recruitment of the Rough Riders in 1898; and the organization of the San Antonio section of the National Council of Jewish Women in 1907. The Menger Hotel is also mentioned several times in the stories of O. Henry.
Mary Menger took over management of the Hotel following her husband’s death in 1871, but sold the property to Major J. H. Kampmann ten years later. Kampmann’s descendants owned the Hotel until 1943, when it was purchased by William L. Moody, Jr.’s National Hotel Corporation. The Menger is currently owned by 1859 Historic Hotels, Inc., based in Galveston, Texas. Throughout its long history, the Menger has been significantly expanded and extensively renovated.
In 1976, the Menger Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Alamo Plaza Historic District.
Menger Hotel vertical file, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.
Stuck, Eleanor. “Menger Hotel.” Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/dgm02.
The register lists guests and visitors to the Menger Hotel, giving each person's name, place of residence, and room number. Register pages and attached blotters include advertisements for local businesses.
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[Identification of item], Menger Hotel (San Antonio, Tex.) Register, 1874, Oversize Bound Doc 8568, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.
Gift of Joseph A. Menger, 1979 June.
Processed by Warren Stricker.
Finding aid edited and encoded by Caitlin Donnelly, 2011 February.
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