WITH A PAST - TEXAS HOTELS BUILT BEFORE 1950 :
Atlee B. Ayres,
by John Troesser
Your Hotel Here & Save
Aumont Hotel c.1925
Photo Courtesy Earle Seaman
recent photo of the Aumont
the Guadalupe County Courthouse was designed by the relatively
unknown architect L.M. Wirtz, the architect for Seguin's
Aumont Hotel was the illustrious Atlee B. Ayers, who later
designed courthouses for Refugio, Cameron, Jim Wells, and Kleburg
Counties (Refugio, Brownsville, Alice and Kingsville, respectively).
Mr. Ayers was also The State Architect for awhile and suggested that
architects be licensed. Mr. Ayers held Texas Architects License No.
The Aumont opened in November of 1916, costing $100,000. With
(costing $75,000) opening on January 9, 1917, the number of
hotel rooms for a city the size of Seguin
gave it a ratio of 22 rooms per 1000 (based on the 1920 Census). This
was a higher average than St. Louis, Detroit or even New York City!
(See Hotel Wars in Seguin
Aumont Hotel Lobby
view from The Aumont Tower
Photo Courtesy Seguin Main Street Program Coordinator Mary Jo Filip
lot is going on at the old Aumont Hotel. Glamour is being reintroduced.
Our recent visit showed the lobby to be sporting a shiny new baby
grand piano. The ballroom now glistens and the mezzanine will soon
Like the Plaza,
it's born-the-same-year neighbor a few blocks away, the Aumont has
"chicken-wire" tile and marble on the floor and staircases. This fine
detail is also displayed in lobby of Waxahachie's
beautiful Rogers Hotel.
Aumont Kitchen c.1926
Chef Van Gilder and Daughter Cliftine
Photo Courtesy Earle Seaman
photo in the lobby shows a 10 year old girl holding her luggage which
is theatrically marked with oversized letters stating: Aumont Hotel.
She is facing the camera with an exasperated frown.
Abel Rodriquez, who is leasing the lobby, outdoor terraces and the
ballroom from owner Earl Seaman, told us that there's an interesting
story behind the photo and that the girl was still living in Seguin.
Abel arranged for us to get her number and we called for an interview.
What we found was that the unhappy little girl was Mrs.
Cliftine Dwyer. The story turned out to be one of the best
we've heard this year and one that will not be soon surpassed. (Click
here for Eloise
It seems that the Chamber of Commerce was holding a contest
at the Texas Theater and that every business in town was to be represented
by a Junior Seguinite, somehow associated with that business. Since
Cliftine was at the peak of cuteness, there was no question about
who would represent the Aumont.
Plans were made for her to enter stage right, followed by the
4 year-old grandson of the Hotel's Bellman. He was decked out in a
gleaming white uniform, carrying the luggage of Miss Aumont, who was
playing the part of a sophisticated lady checking into the Hotel.
Cliftine was humiliated by having the little boy carry her luggage
and was photographed in this mood, just prior to leaving the hotel
for the trip to the Texas Theater.
Mrs. Dwyer remembers being six years old, and also remembers who won
first and second place. First place, she told us, was won
by Mary Lee Roberts and second place was Betty Jean Jones. She also
remembers that the first prize was a small diamond ring (and that
Mary Lee lost it) and second prize was a small add-a-pearl bracelet,
that Betty Jean still has. All three women still reside in Seguin.
Pride in Seguin
runs deep and only after several probing questions, did Mrs. Dwyer
admit she was born elsewhere (San
Antonio) where her parents, both Seguinites, were working.
photo of the event can be seen today in the Lobby of the Texas Theater.
Aumont Owner Earle Seaman gave us a tour of the Aumont which
revealed both the quality of the original construction and the detail
that's going into the restoration.
© John Troesser
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