By Bennett Owen
For any Wise Man following the Lone Star westward, chances are they’ve spent the night at the Menger in San Antonio, the oldest hotel west of the Mississippi.
Credit: Menger Hotel
Founded by a German immigrant beer brewer in 1859, less than 23 years after the battle of the Alamo, it began as a boarding house but soon gained a reputation for its fine dining, including snapper soup made from turtles caught in the San Antonio river.
Credit: Photograph by Thomas D. Mcavoy for the October 12, 1959 edition of “Life” magazine © Time Inc.
By the late 1880s the Menger was one of the nation’s finest hotels. Its bar was outfitted with solid cherry wood, French mirrors and gold-plated spittoons…good enough for Teddy Roosevelt in 1898 when he recruited his famous Rough Riders to fight in the Spanish American war.
Credit: Roosevelt Rough Riders
The hotel also hosted Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee (we assume not at the same time!), as well as luminaries such as, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Lilly Langtry, Mae West, Babe Ruth, Oscar Wilde and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
History lovers tend to enjoy staying at the Menger while newlyweds might find the paper-thin walls … um … thin.
The residence also has a reputation as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States, so those late-night clunking noises keeping you awake may not necessarily be the noisy next-door neighbor…