Thursday, March 3, 2016

Menger Hotel


The Menger Hotel in downtown San Antonio has a rich and varied history.  Famous guests have included Oscar Wilde, Babe Ruth and multiple U.S. Presidents.  Events like the "rough rider" recruitment by Teddy Roosevelt and the first public demonstration of barbed wire took place there.


Their marker reads:

     "William A. (1827-1871) and Mary Menger, both born in Germany, opened a boarding house and brewery at this site in 1855, when most local buinesses were still clustered around Main Plaza and Military Plaza. The popularity of the boarding house led Menger to replace it with a two-story stone hotel erected at the corner of Blum and Alamo Plaza in 1859. Mary Menger sold the Hotel in 1881 to J.H. Kampmann, the builder of the first portion of the structure.
     Famed for its excellent meals and beautiful patio garden, the Menger was San Antonion's most prominent hotel in the 19th century. It attracted many well-known visitors and was periodically enlarged and remodeled to accommodate more guests. Cattlemen such as Richard King stayed here during the era of the great cattle drives. Other guests included Generals U.S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and John Pershing; poet Sidney Lanier, writer O. Henry (William Sidney Porter); and performers at the Grand Opera House located across the plaza. Theodore Roosevelt recruited his regiment of "Rough Riders" for the Sapnish-American War at the Menger in 1898. 
     Purchased in 1943 by W.L. Moody, Jr., the hotel was further expanded in 1966-67 to cover the entire block. (1976)"

But history, schmistory!  Let's head to the bar:


The hotel bar is famous in its own right.  It's the oldest continuously operated saloon in town and, according to a plaque at the location, it is an exact replica of a London pub.  It's also known to be the first bar in Texas with ice.  If that wasn't enough, the bar has some very "Texas" features: bullet holes!

         

They're not as big as you might expect.  I guess real-world 19th century weapons don't blow stuff up the way blockbuster movies bullets do.  Some of those bullets probably made their way into some patrons back in the day too because the hotel is known as "The Most Haunted Hotel in Texas."


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