The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Mexican Army General Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission in San Antonio after 13-day siege. All of the Texian defenders were killed which inspired many Texians and volunteers from around the United States to join the Texian Army. Bolstered by revenge, the Texians defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, ending the revolution.
German immigrants William & Mary Menger purchase land next to the Alamo Mission and establish the first Texas Brewery. The brewery's success led to the addition of a tavern and boardinghouse. William Menger hired Charles Degen as his brewmaster. Degen continued with the brewery until it closed in 1878.
In 1857 William & Mary Menger expand their boarding house. A local architect, John M. Fries designs the two-story, limestone building with classical features. After the completion, February 1, 1859, the Menger quickly gains popularity and is known as the finest hotel west of the MIssissippi. Menger immediately made plans to build an addition that includes the Colonial Room Restuarant. Menger dies in 1871, he was considered charitable toward the poor and active in the civic life of the city.
Post Civil War and Reconstructio and with the arrival of the railroad to San Antonio, the Menger Hotel becomes the best-known hotel in the Southwest. Both the hotel and restaurant usher in a new era of sophistication to the rough Texas frontier.
One of the five major acequias, dug by the Franscian fathers in the seventeeth century, flowed through what is now the tropical garden of the hotel. It was this Alamo Madre ditch that cooled the cellars of the Menger Brewery.
The first Battle of Flowers Parade to honor the memory of the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. Local women decorate carriages with live flowers, met in front of the Alamo and threw them at one another. It has since transformed into an annual spring festival known as Fiesta.
Cattle baron Richard King founder of the fabled million-acre King Ranch in South Texas was a part-time resident of the Menger. He passed away at the Menger Hotel in 1885, funeral services were held in the Menger lobby. He left behind a legacy that continues today.
Menger Bar and a fourth story was added. Improvements included the addition of an artesian well, steam laundry, electric lights and steam elevator. The Menger Bar, a replica of the pub in the House of Lords in London, served chilled beer, mint juleps and hot rum toddies. The craftmanship was admired by all of San Antonio.
In 1891 local women decorate carriages with live flowers, met in front of the Alamo and threw them at one another. This Battle of Flowers Parade honors the memory of the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. It has since grown into an annual spring festival known as Fiesta.
1898 Teddy Roosevelt returns to the Menger Bar with Colonel Leonard Wood to organize the first U.S. Volunteer Calvary, the “Rough Riders,” which fought in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. In 1905 Teddy Roosevelt returned to the Menger for the first Rough Rider Reunion.
Carrie Nation, a radical member of the temperance movement, arrived by train from Guadalara. She was in San Antonio to lecture on the evils of alcohol. Carrie made a visit to the Menger Bar to scold the patrons and bartender. No evidence that she used her hatchet on the bar.
Noted architect, Alfred Giles, made extensive changes to the hotel. The original lobby was embellished with a new marble floor and Renaissance-revival style details, including Corinthian columns and filigreed balustrades. In 1912 architect Atlee B Ayres was hired to renovate the dining room and add thirty rooms.
In 1918 Menger Bar closed for prohibition. In 1924 Gutzon Borglum, one of America's most famous sculptors, moves to the Menger. He devotes a part of his quarters to his work. Plans and models of at least three of the Famous Faces of Mount Rushmore were executed in San Antonio.
W.L. Moody, Jr. is the third owner of the Menger Hotel. In 1949-1950 a four-story, 125-room addition was built, and a new lobby and air-conditioning throughout the hotel was added. The bar was moved to the Crockett Street side. The Menger Patio Club and swimming pool added in 1953.
1961-1967 A five-story addition was built.Roy Rogers and Dale Evans perform in the Championship Rodeo at San Antonio. Roy Rogers, his wife Dale Evans and Trigger were frequent guests at the Menger.
General Sam Houston visits the Menger shortly after it’s opened and signs the register as “Sam Houston and horse” General Robert E. Lee stayed at the Menger several times prior to the Civil War. The story is that he rode his famous horse, Traveler, into the Menger lobby, and he placed a gold locket around the neck of the Menger’s young daughter, Catherine Barbara. Dwight Eisenhower first visit was in 1916, he later dines as President in the Colonial Dining Room.
Some of the hotel’s most famous guests included Civil War generals Robert E. Lee and William Sherman. A number of presidents have visited the Menger throughout the years, the dates are not available. The following is a list of those presidents: William Howard Taft, William Mckinley, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon. Ronald Reagan, Lyndon Johnson, George Bush and Bill Clinton.
Over the years many writes such as playwright Oscar Wilde, author William Sydney Porter were inspired by the Menger Hotel. In 2000, the Menger Hotel was designated a Literary Landmark. Baseball legend Babe Ruth and film starlet Mae West were among the some of the famous figures to stay at the Menger.
With more than 150 years, the Menger has evolved into the rambling structure of today. Four of San Antonio's most important architects of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are associated with the design of the Menger as you see it today. Originally only a fifty-room hotel, the Menger now boasts 316 guest rooms. While much of the architecture, history, appointments and artifacts found at the Menger Hotel certainly qualify as museum-quality, it remains true to its origin and continues to be the oldest continuously run hotel West of the Mississipi. Although much has changed at the Menger, much remains the same - most especially the attentive service performed by dedicated employees.