Antlers History ...

Historic View

In the Texas Hill Country on Lake LBJ

The area where the Llano and Colorado Rivers meet has long been a gathering place and resort area. First it was used by the Indians, then the settlers, including Martin King for whom Kingsland is named. In 1892 the Austin and Northwestern Railroad arrived by building a bridge across the Colorado River, and a depot in Kingsland.

The Antlers Hotel was begun in 1900 and opened May 1, 1901. Newspapers hanging around the hotel show events on that date including the cross-country trip by President William McKinley who toured Austin on May 3, 1901.

The Antlers Hotel was named in part for the Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs, a new and fashionable railroad resort that opened a few years earlier. The name also takes meaning from the fact that Llano County was then and continues to be a major deer hunting area.

The hotel had all the modern conveniences of the day, including gas lights and a telephone in the lobby. They believed electricity was a passing fad. The hotel had 11 rooms with expansion capability for additional guests by placing hammocks on the wide porches. The hotel was in the center of a campground known as Campa Pajama that stretched down to Crescent Lake, formed by a 1,000 foot lock across the Colorado River. Lake LBJ was created in 1951 when Wirtz Dam was built. All the camps had telephones and could call in orders to the hotel kitchen.

To the west of the hotel is a bunkhouse that was used by hotel staff and train crews. Just north of the bunkhouse is a small three-room cabin that was typical of several cabins spaced around the property. The architectural details of the hotel, bunkhouse, and cabin indicate that all were built at the same time. Across the road from the bunkhouse is the house of the Section Master who presided over a section of the railroad. This house is now owned by Jerry Kelly of Houston, whose father worked for, and bought the house from the Southern Pacific Railroad in the 1940’s. The Kingsland Depot was directly in front of the hotel, between the main line and the sidetrack that still exist. In the field in front of the hotel, which is now the parking lot of the Old Town Grill, was a large wooden pavilion used for dances and community gatherings. Pictures of these structures are in the second floor lobby.

1900 and 1901 were a time of consolidations in the railroad industry. The Austin and Northwestern Railroad began construction of the hotel and by the time it opened in 1901, the railroad and its hotel had been acquired by the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. The cast iron pot-bellied stove in the dining room carries the H&TCR logo or the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, which was itself acquired by the Texas and New Orleans Railroad and then the Southern Pacific Railroad.

The hotel was a fashionable resort and on weekends the railroad ran excursion trains out from Austin. The hotel also served traveling salesmen or "drummers" and cattlemen. The hotel operated successfully until the 20’s when automobile travel eroded the reliance on train excursions. The novelty of the lake by the rails faded as a vacation destination and the hotel closed in 1923.

A fire destroyed much of Kingsland in 1922 and the town was in decline. The property was purchased in 1923 by the Barrow family, who used it as a family retreat for 70 years until 1993. The hotel was then purchased by an Austin investor and went through over two years of renovation under the direction of Anthony Mayfield. It reopened on September 1, 1996 with Lori and Anthony Mayfield as managers. Today the property features the restored hotel, several restored cabins, and a few additions like the brightly colored cabooses, a new country store and conference center, and other turn-of-the-century buildings that keep being brought in from neighboring towns for restoration. The history of the Antlers is still being made, and each visit brings a new surprise, as the hotel has become a center of restoration and growth for the area.

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The Antlers

1001 King St.,  Kingsland, Texas 78639-5252     E-mail:  Innkeeper@TheAntlers.com
Phone:  (325) 388-4411       Tollfree: (800) 383-0007           Fax: (325) 388-6488