204 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX

(210) 223-4361

Status: Historic Hotel; Battlefield



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William Menger emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1847 and opened a brewery in 1855 on the battlegrounds of the Alamo; now known as the Alamo Plaza.

It is said he brought beer to San Antonio.

In 1859 he and his wife, Mary, opened the Menger Hotel. It was the first real hotel in San Antonio – which was a stop on the Chisholm Trail and used by cattle drovers to replenish their supplies – and with 50 rooms it was an instant hit with the cattle barons.

Before the hotel there were only boarding houses available for visitors to the growing city.

In the Civil War there was a large Confederate force posted in the city. When the boarding houses were quickly filled the Menger family closed the hotel to the public and used the rooms to house wounded soldiers and the dining room to feed them.

William Menger died in 1871 but Mary and his children continued to run both the hotel and the brewery.

In February of 1877 the first train arrived in San Antonio and the hotel became more successful.

In 1879 gas lighting was installed.

In 1881 John Kampman – who was the contractor who had built the hotel – bought it. He made numerous additions to the building and put in the pipes which allowed the construction of private bathrooms for every room, something highly prized as most hotels at the time did not offer it.

His son Hermann, who took over after John, built a saloon modeled after the House of Lords bar in London, England. He also added electricity, a steam elevator and the laundry.

By World War I began the hotel began to feel dated and by the time the Great Depression began it was starting to fall apart as well. By the 1940’s there were discussions about demolishing the building and replacing it with a parking lot.

Rather than be torn down the hotel was bought by William Moody Jr in 1943 who began a massive restoration - $100,000 on the kitchen alone – in 1948. He completely reconstructed the lobby, the kitchen and a number of rooms as well as modernizing both the plumbing and electrical systems.

When Moody died in 1954 ownership passed to his daughter Mary. She would make $1.5 million addition with 5 stories and 110 more guest rooms just in time for the 1968 World’s Fair.

Numerous US Presidents have stayed at the hotel from Ulysses S Grant to George HW Bush.

The hotel is currently owned by Historic Hotels Inc.


Paranormal Activity

The ghost of President Theodore Roosevelt haunts to Menger Bar where he once informally began an enlistment drive for his famous ‘Rough Riders’ just before the Spanish American War.

He is said to still be interested in witty conversation with the customers today and if you’re very lucky he might choose you to talk to.

Sallie White worked as a maid in the hotel in the 1870’s. She was known as both a hard worker and a very sweet and well liked woman. Unfortunately, her husband was exactly the opposite who, in a fit of jealous rage, followed her to work and emptied an entire pistol into her at the hotel. It took her 2 days to die and the hotel paid for her funeral.

Sallie haunts the third floor of the building and is often seen as a transparent apparition in a grey maid’s uniform with her hair done up in a scarf. She is usually carrying an armload of towels, presumably for guests.

Captain Richard King – owner of the King Ranch; one of the largest in the world at the time – also haunts the hotel. Once his personal doctors told him of his death rapidly approaching, he moved to his personal suite at the hotel and spent time with his friends until his passing.

King is often seen in his old suite – now called the King Ranch Room – usually entering through the wall where a door once was before a renovation.

In the original lobby of the hotel a woman in a blue dress, wire glasses and a beret in her hair sits and knits. A staff once inquired if she needed anything to which the woman curtly said no before she disappeared.

A guest saw the apparition of a man in a buckskin shirt and pants arguing with someone who could not be seen. He said, “are you going to stay or are you going to go?” Three times before vanishing himself. Certainly, sounds like it was related to the Battle of the Alamo to me.

 Heavy phantom footsteps and military boots walking with no visible in them are often seen in the hotel; which is also thought to be related the Alamo siege as well.

In the kitchen objects are witnessed moving on their own.

The apparitions of many other former guests – and members of the ‘Rough Riders” – are also seen throughout the hotel.