HISTORY OF THE ANTLERS HOTEL
First glance at the Historic Antlers Hotel and you will be taken back in time to the early 1900’s. Picture the men wearing long coats, and top hats, scattered around the hotel property in groups conversing about the day’s events. The ladies, dressed in high-necked, sweeping dresses, and broad-brimmed hats, compliment the Victorian architecture of the open porches and seating that surround the hotel. It offered all modern conveniences of the day including gas lights (electricity was only a fad at the time) and telephones. The hotel held eleven rooms with expansion capability by placing hammocks on the wide porches. The duplex next to the hotel was the old railroad crew and hotel staff bunkhouse. Across the road, near the tracks, were the section master’s house, the depot, and the large wooden pavilion used for dances and community gatherings.
The area where the Llano and Colorado Rivers meet has long been a gathering place and resort area. First utilized by the Native Indians as a hunting mecca, followed by the settlers who recognized the value of the confluence of the rivers and the surrounding land, including Kingsland’s namesake, Martin King.
In 1892, the Austin and Northwestern Railroad, under the management of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, extended the rail line from Burnet to Llano and built a depot in Kingsland. The Antlers Hotel opened in 1901 for use by tourists, businessmen and “drummers” (who sold their wares by literally banging on drums). During weekends, the railroad ran excursion trains out from Austin for travelers coming from as far away as Houston, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.
The Antlers operated successfully until a fire in 1922 destroyed much of Kingsland. The original depot was lost, but the Antlers was spared! The town headed into a period of decline, and automobile transportation further decreased the popularity of train travel. In 1923, the Barrow family from Austin purchased the hotel. They used the property as a private family retreat for 70 years. In 1950, building of a dam at Granite Shoals created Lake LBJ and the tourism for the area was back on the rise.
In 1993, the Antlers Hotel property was purchased by Barbara and Dennis Thomas. The hotel underwent two and a half years of renovation and reopened September 1, 1996. The train cars and present depot were brought to the property and refurbished for guest comfort.
2002 brings the historical value of the Antlers Hotel to the books with listings as a Texas Historic Landmark and the National Register of Historic Places. Showcased in the lobby of the hotel are the plaques and announcements.
The hotel is an excellent example of construction and building types in the period following the Victorian Era. The hotel is oriented to capture the breeze and has 12-foot ceilings throughout. Only one room wide, it shows an extensive system of doors, windows, and transom windows to move the air around the hotel. Much of the old window glass stills retains its wavy nature and imperfections. The refinished pine floors stand out against the antique furnishings. You will find memorabilia showcasing the history of the hotel and property throughout the premises.
The Antlers Hotel catered to guests by offering luxury and recreation on the waterfront.
Under new ownership in 2015, Rick Gregory, and Drew Gerencer are proud to continue the tradition of luxury and recreation today.