Seguin’s Infamous War of the Hotels

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Location… The Texas Hill Country. Place… Seguin, Texas. Year… 1916. Times were good. A recent fire had wiped out an entire block of downtown, and Seguinites were eager to rebuild. In fact, $200,000 worth of building permits were issued in just 10 months. That is almost as much as in the entire history of Seguin! It seems the aging Magnolia Hotel (c. 1840) had lost some of its pre-war dazzle, so the businessmen of Seguin decided they needed a new hotel.

Aumont Hotel

The Aumont Hotel was named for the corner of Austin and Mountain Street and designed by Atlee Ayers, the Texas State Architect. Photo: Facebook/Traces of Texas

The proposed hotel was announced, and the artist’s rendition of the building was hung so everyone could see it. In Serger’s Drug Store. All the town’s people were excited to see their town growing and prospering. All, that is, except the businessmen who weren’t included.

What to do? Well, the news was released three weeks later. A second hotel was to be built, and the town’s people of Seguin were happy again. Exhausted from fretting over the news of the first hotel, people from Gonzales were hired to shimmy in the streets for them.

As the weeks went by, people watched as the rival buildings went up. Back-fence talk and hearsay were passed around faster than Elderberry wine. To avoid favoritism at all cost, a total of 82 telephones were installed in both hotels on the exact same day. Strangely enough, Max Starke became the first manager of the Aumont Hotel, although the Starke Furniture Company furnished the Park Hotel.

Park Plaza Hotel

The Park Hotel (later named The Plaza) was built by M. J. Dielman of San Antonio. Born in Germany, he was more experienced designing churches than hotels. Photo: Facebook/Park Plaza Hotel Seguin

Finally, in November of 1916, The Aumont Hotel opened its doors to the final tune of $100,000. While The Park Hotel, boasting a mere $75,000, waited until after the holidays to open on January 9, 1917.

Over indulgence along with petty rivalry resulted in a ratio of 22 hotel rooms per 1,000 people for the small town in the Texas Hill Country. This correlation won over St. Lois, Detroit, and even New York City.

An overabundance of lodging only led to another problem. What to do with so many hotel rooms? In 1927, the Park Hotel became the Seguin Hospital for three years, and then once again a hotel, The Plaza Hotel.

It’s not known exactly where the bone of contention originated. Possibly political stance, ethnic background, or simply what side of the railroad tracks you hailed from.