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Menger Hotel Celebrates SA's 'Master Builder'

Menger Hotel Celebrates SA's 'Master Builder'

  The Menger Hotel is going back to its roots this weekend to celebrate the release of the book 'Master Building,' which celebrates 19th Century San Antonio leader who built the hotel in 1859.

 

  "He was very involved with it along the way as the builder, and later as the owner," said Judith Carrington, Kampmann's great great granddaughter who has traveled to San Antonio for the book's release.

 

  The book also tells the story of the German who immigrated to Texas in the 1840s and 1850s.  Johann Kampmann left his native Prussia in 1848 because he was accused of having 'Republican sympathies' during the great German upheavals of the late 1840s, which prompted many people to emigrate from the German principalities to the United States.  Kampmann came to San Antonio due largely to the fact that fellow German architect Johann Fries, who is best known as the creator of the iconic facade of the Alamo, had arrived in the city the year before and had established a 'German architecture tradition' in the 1840s.

 

  Unlike many of his fellow Texas Germans, Kampmann joined the Confederate Army during the Civil War, rising to the rank of major.  After the war, Kampmann returned to San Antonio and personally led the building of the city into one of the great metropolitan areas of the burgeoning West.

 

 Carrington says Kampmann was tireless in his activities.

 

  "The flyleaf of the book says he was craftsman, builder, contractor, stone mason, construction supervisor, building designer, materials, supplier, and business and civic leader," she said.

 

  Carrington donated Kampmann's papers to the Witte Museum and there is a plaque in his honor at the Menger Hotel.

 

  Among the many San Antonio buildings he constructed are the old Lone Star Brewery, which is now the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Eager House at Hemisfair Park and the Steves House in the King William neighborhood.

 

  Kampmann also served on San Antonio City Council and founded a bank, the Lockwood and Kampmann Bank.

 

  He died in 1885 and is buried in the city's Masonic Cemetery.

 

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