SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Babe Ruth once spoke at a business luncheon at the St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio. Rudolph Valentino once danced on the roof. John Wayne, Judy Garland and George Clooney are among Hollywood stars to have visited. So have presidents.
Now the new owners of the Alamo City's first luxury hotel — also the nation's first totally air-conditioned hotel — want to restore the more than century-old business to its grandeur and are looking for other recollections and photos of its history.
The chief investment officer of BC Lynd Hospitality tells the San Antonio Express-News (http://bit.ly/1185lGv ) his company wants to re-establish the hotel's history and get people talking about it. It's part of a $24 million project to renovate the St. Anthony, a project that's supposed to be completed next year.
"We kind of consider it the queen of San Antonio," said Clyde Johnson IV, chief investment officer of BC Lynd, which acquired the hotel a year ago.
The St. Anthony was built in 1909. It became fully air-conditioned in 1936.
By then, The Babe's appearance in 1922 already was part of the place's history, as was silent-film-era heartthrob Valentino's presence in 1923. Presidents in the building included Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson.
The St. Anthony is credited with introducing such now taken-for-granted services as drive-up hotel registration and automatic door openers.
But Clyde Johnson and Brandon Raney, BC Lynd's CEO, said they're also looking for memories and images of weddings, holidays, business gatherings and other events.
"It really was the créme de la créme," Raney said of the hotel. "We want to paint a history of the hotel through kind of a non-technical lens."
The plan is to display the tales and photos in some fashion at the hotel, maybe even in a book.
A Louis XV piano, absent from the hotel for some 20 years, recently was purchased at an auction by a member of the St. Anthony's ownership group, and may soon return. Raney said he was heading to San Francisco this week to inspect the piece.
Information from: San Antonio Express-News, http://www.mysanantonio.com