The Argyle Hotel, for many years one of San Antonio's finest hotels and restaurants, was built in 1859 by Charles Anderson as a plantation house for his ranch, which covered most of what is now Alamo Heights. Anderson, a Union sympathizer, was briefly imprisoned in 1861, but escaped and left the state. Confederate authorities discussed the possibility of constructing an arsenal on his property, but the plans never materialized, and the house stood unoccupied for several years. After the war Hiram W. McLane purchased the house and ranch and started raising horses there. In 1890 the ranch was sold to a Denver investment company, which developed the land into what is now Alamo Heights. The house itself was purchased by two Scots named Patterson, after whom the street in front of the house is named. They converted the house into an inn, the Argyle Hotel. A third story and a southwest wing were added after 1890; the second and third story front porches were modified, and the lower front porch was converted into a garden loggia.
Robert Emmit O'Grady and his sister Alice O'Grady purchased the hotel and opened it on St. Patrick's Day, 1893. European furnishings and decoration were added to the twenty-one guest rooms and various public spaces, and antique silver and fine china became part of the daily table service. Alice O'Grady, with George Bannister, the Argyle chef for thirty-five years, served a fine cuisine. Having collected and experimented with recipes from the time she helped her mother in the Kendall House (the O'Grady home and inn in Boerne), Alice brought to the Argyle a creative interest in cooking that made it outstanding in the South for fine food. Her tiered wedding cakes, shipped in sheet-draped Pullman berths, were a must for brides of many South Texas families. Her brother Robert assisted in the operation of the Argyle. Through the years O'Grady sisters Kate, Lizzie, and Mary assisted Alice and Robert in the hotel's management. Guests of national reputation came for meals, and several lived there for years. Alice retired in 1941, and the hotel remained in private hands until it was bought in the 1950s by the Southwest Foundation for Research and Education of San Antonio and converted into an exclusive club whose members make an annual contribution in support of the medical research underway at the foundation. Restoration and additions to the famous old Argyle Hotel have continued, and it was still in operation as a private club in 1990.
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Ella K. Daggett, "Famous Contemporaries: The Argyle and the Menger," Southern Home and Garden, September 1941. Lillie May Hagner, Alluring San Antonio (San Antonio: Naylor, 1940).
Hotels and Theaters
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
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