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Austin – Downtown: Driskill Hotel
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The Driskill Hotel, located a 604 Brazos Street, is the oldest operating hotel in Austin, opened by cattle baron Colonel Jesse Driskill in 1886. The four-story Romanesque Revival style building, designed by Jasper N. Preston and Son, opened with 60 rooms, including 12 corner rooms with attached baths–an almost unheard-of feature in any hotel of the region at the time.
Driskill was forced to close the hotel after just a year when he couldn’t attract clientele willing to splurge and half his staff was poached by the Beach Hotel in Galveston. According to legend, he lost the property to his brother-in-law, Jim "Doc" Day, in a game of poker in 1888. Local magnate George Littlefield acquired the hotel in 1895, invested in renovations including ceiling frescoes and additional bathroom but sold at a loss in 1903. In 1930, the original building was expanded with a 13-story tower designed by Trost and Trost and each of the original 60 rooms was outfitted with a private bathroom.
Threatened with demolition in 1969 after a planned renovation fell through, but saved from the wrecking ball at the last minute. It reopened in 1972 and remained successful ever since, with a 1996 renovation.
Starting with Governor Sul Ross in 1887, every Texas Governor has held his or her inaugural ball in the Driskill ballroom. In 1934, future president Lyndon B. Johnson met his future wife, Claudia Taylor, for their first date in the Driskill dining room. It became his campaign headquarters during his congressional career especially during his famous 1948 Senate race, and he watched the results of the 1964 Presidential Election from its presidential suite and addressed supporters from its ballroom after his victory.
The Driskill is also widely considered to be a haunted hotel, featuring a variety of alleged supernatural activity throughout the building including the spirit of Colonel Driskill himself.
National Register #69000212 (1969)
UrbaneApts / One Bedroom / Fairmont
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Urbane on Fairmont
BY: KENNY CORBIN