Haunted Menger Hotel in
The Historic Menger Hotel,
in 1905, vintage postcard.
On the National
Register of Historic Places, the Menger Hotel is one of the best known and oldest hotels in the state of
Texas. Continuing to cater to travelers today, the hotel is also said to be
home to several resident ghosts.
Opened by William
Menger on February 1, 1859, the hotel was constructed on the site of
Menger′s brewery, the first brewery in
Said to have been the finest hotel west of the Mississippi River, it
once hosted such notables as Sam Houston, Generals Lee and Grant and
Presidents McKinley, Taft, Eisenhower, and Roosevelt; Babe Ruth, and
Menger, a German
immigrant, arrived in
Antonio in the early 1840’s and operated a brewery at the site
with Charles Phillip Degen. In 1857 he and decided to build a hotel to
accommodate the many
carousers who frequented his brewery. Soon, he hired
local architect, John M. Fries to design
the two-story cut-stone building, which featured an abundance of
The hotel was so
successful that Menger immediately made plans to build an addition
between the hotel and his brewery. Construction on a forty-room annex
was begun in August, 1858 and completed the following year. The hotel
featured a tunnel opening off the basement, through which Menger led
groups of selected guests on tours of the adjacent brewery. Menger
died at the hotel in March 1871, and his widow and son took over the
When the Civil War
and Reconstruction were over, and especially after the railroad
arrived in 1877, the Menger became the best-known hotel in the
Southwest. It was praised for the cuisine offered in the Colonial
Dining Room, which included such specialties as wild game, mango ice cream, and snapper soup
made from turtles caught in the San Antonio River.
An east wing was
added in December 1881. Hermann Kampmann became manager in 1887 and
supervised the installation of a new bar, a replica of the taproom in
the House of Lords Club in London. The solid cherry bar,
cherry-paneled ceiling, French mirrors, and gold-plated spittoons were
the marvels of San Antonio. The beer was chilled by the
Madre ditch, which passed through the hotel courtyard, mint juleps
were served in solid silver tumblers, and hot rum toddies came to have
wide renown. Theodore Roosevelt first visited the Menger in 1892 on a
javelina hunt; he returned to recruit his Rough Riders at the hotel in
1898; and in 1905 he was back for a banquet.
1909 the hotel was again enlarged with an addition to the south side.
Architect Alfred Giles altered the main façade, adding Renaissance Revival
details in stuccoed brick, pressed
metal, and cast iron; he also designed an interior rotunda that provided
light and served as a circulation hub. The hotel was a center of San
social affairs and a meeting place for visiting celebrities. It declined
during the Great Depression, but in the mid-1940's the building was
reconditioned, and the more celebrated dining rooms were restored. By 1951
a new wing had been added, and the building had been completely
modernized. In 1976 the hotel was added to the National Register of
Historic Places as part of the Alamo Plaza
Historic District. The Menger was again renovated in the 1980's.
Lobby of the Menger Hotel.
addition to its significance as a historical landmark, the Menger offers
unparalleled amenities which continue to include the famous Colonial Room
Restaurant and the Menger Bar along with 316 guest rooms and suites. Many rooms overlook the
Alamo, pool or Alamo Plaza
and all retain the furniture, art, and accessories from the hotel’s
earlier days, including four-poster beds, velvet-covered Victorian sofas
and chairs, marble-topped tables and period wall coverings.
to its resident ghosts, the historic Menger Hotel
is said be called home or visited regularly by some 32 different entities. Seemingly, they don’t mind sharing the old hotel with the living, as they
pleasantly go about their business.
The Menger's most famous
spiritual guest is that of former President Teddy Roosevelt. It was
here, in the Menger Bar, that Roosevelt recruited hard-living cowboys
fresh from the Chisholm Trail, to his detachment of Rough Riders.
Reportedly, Teddy would sit at the bar and as the cowboys came in, he
would jovially offer them a free drink (or several) as he worked his
recruiting strategy upon the unsuspecting cowpoke. Many sobered up
the next morning to find themselves on their way to basic military training
at Fort Sam Houston before joining in the Spanish American War. Over
the years, Roosevelt has reportedly been seen having a drink at the
little barroom off the main lobby.
The most often sighted
spiritual guest is a woman named Sallie White. Long ago, Sallie was a
chambermaid who worked within the hotel and one night after an argument
with her husband, she stayed overnight. The next day her husband
threatened to kill her and some time later, on March 28, 1876, he attacked
her inside the hotel. Badly injured, she held on for two days before dying
of her injuries. According to the hotel’s ledgers, it paid for her
funeral at a cost of $32.00.
Today, Sallie apparently
continues to perform her duties within the Victorian wing of the hotel.
Sallie has been seen numerous times wearing an old long gray skirt and a
bandana around her forehead, the uniform common during her era. Primarily, appearing at night, Sallie is generally seen walking along the
hotel hallways, carrying a load of clean towels for the guests.
Another apparition that is often reported is
that of Captain Richard King, one time owner one of the largest ranches in
the world – The King Ranch. A frequent visitor to the Menger Hotel
during his lifetime, he had a personal suite within the hotel. When
he learned of his impending death
personal physicians, Captain King spent the last months of his life, wrote
his will disposing of his great wealth, and bade farewell to his friends
in his suite at the Menger. On April 15, 1885, King’s funeral
was held in the Menger’s parlor. Today,
the room in which he stayed is called the
"King Ranch Room.” He is often seen entering his old room, going
right through the wall where the door was once located before it was
cases and photographs on the walls of the first floor lobbies provide a
glimpse into the Menger’s colorful past.
Another ghostly spirit of
a woman is often spotted sitting in the original lobby of the historic
hotel. Wearing an old fashioned blue dress, small wire-framed
glasses, and a tasseled beret in her hair, she sits quietly knitting. On one occasion a staff member stopped to ask her, "Are you
comfortable...may I get you something?", only to be answered with an
unfriendly "No” before the woman disappeared.
Another guest reported
emerging from the shower to see an apparition dressed in a buckskin jacket
and grey pants, who is busy having a heated conversation with an unseen
presence. The entity demands to know; "Are you gonna stay or are you gonna
go?" three times before vanishing.
Other entities have been
known to "help" in the kitchen area, as various utensils have floated
through the air seemingly all by themselves. Utensils are often seen
transporting themselves from one area to another without the help of human
to the Alamo,
some of these ghostly visitors to the hotel are attributed to the many
that died during the