Nimitz Hotel in Fredericksburg
is much more than the family business of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz.
The old hotel was a local watering hole. It was a waystation and a
gateway to the community. Visitors formed their first impressions
by the warm reception received at the Nimitz.
Charles H. Nimitz arrived with the early settlers in Fredericksburg.
For a time he was a cook at Fort
Martin Scott. Some sources say he opened (or possibly managed)
his first hotel at 218 W. Main Street (present-day site of the Schmidt-Dietz
Building). A story in the Fredericksburg Standard (November
26, 1921) described that original dirt floor hotel as "a one-room
structure built of adobe."
sat squarely on the Texas frontier, a surprising number of travelers
passed through in the early days. The town was a stopping point for
stagecoaches on the road between San
Antonio and El
Paso. Soldiers on the way to West Texas forts stopped in Fredericksburg
for one last civilized fling. The small hotel had a lot of business.
1855 Charles Nimitz built a bigger hotel at the corner of Main and
Washington Streets. The new place had a large rock-fenced enclosure
for horses. The wall cost the fantastic sum of $150 not to mention
the "free drinks of whiskey he had to furnish the men building it."
| The Nimitz Hotel
courtesy Gillespie County Historical Sociey
| When finished,
the new hotel had it all. There were 3 wells on the property. The
building had wood floors made of cypress boards cut and hauled from
the "mill the Mormons had built and were operating on the Pedernales
about 4 miles below the colony."
The Nimitz wasn't home, but it was darn close to it. A traveler willing
to splurge could sleep in a bed all by himself. The outhouse was a
short but polite distance away. The Nimitz was the only place between
San Antonio and El
Paso a traveler could soak in a hot bath.
At other frontier hotels a guest could take a bath in clean water
(unheated) for a dime or bathe at a discount if he was willing to
"take a turn."
After the new Nimitz opened "it became the place where the mail drivers
of the U.S. mail line from San
Antonio and El
Paso stayed. They found good quarters here and a fine place to
keep their horses."
The hotel was a charming place with comfortable furnishings. On the
walls were Hermann Lungkwitz drawings of Bear
Mountain and Enchanted
Rock. By all accounts the hospitality was amazing.
a few famous people registered at the Nimitz. General Robert E. Lee
and General Phil Sheridan stayed there. The Fredericksburg Standard
reported that "Dr. Ferdinand Roemer, whose studies for the new country
were the first to be printed in Europe made this hotel his home at
William Sydney Porter,
better known as the writer O. Henry, slept at the Nimitz when he wasn't
absorbing the local culture at the bar.
The Germans had a lukewarm relationship with O. Henry. They admired
his talent but weren't always charmed with his treatment of their
An article in the Fredericksburg Standard concluded "The beautiful
story of 'The Chaparral Prince' which uses as a setting the one time
frequent mail robberies on the mail routes from here to San
Antonio and which pretends to depict the life of the people of
our country, was undoubtedly begun while the writer was at the hotel."
Charles Nimitz was a ship captain before he came to Texas, and by
the late1880s he had socked away enough money to remodel his hotel
to reflect his love for the sea. The wheelhouse of a Mississippi steamboat
looming above the oak trees must have been a strange and mysterious
sight to first time visitors coming to Fredericksburg
from Austin or San
The hotel was a busy place in its prime. Prominent families from Houston
spent summers there. Locals had banquets and dances in the ballroom.
The Lions Club, the Rotary Club and the Casino Club met there.
The hotel was the center of social life in Fredericksburg
for a century.
"Nimitz Hotel Interwoven With Colorful History," Fredericksburg
Standard, March 9, 1977.
History of the Nimitz Hotel," Fredericksburg Standard, November