Driskill Hotel Christmas Tree
12-17-2018...Driskill Hotel Austin.
Jesse Driskill, a successful cattle baron, had moved to Texas from Missouri in 1849. Flush with cash from his service to the Confederate Army, to which he supplied beef throughout the Civil War, he decided to diversify by constructing a grand hotel in Austin, his adopted hometown. In 1884, Driskill purchased land at the corner of 6th and Brazos for $7,500 and announced his plans. He hired the architectural firm of Jasper N. Preston & Son to design the structure.
The hotel enjoyed a grand opening on December 20, 1886, and was featured in a special edition of the Austin Daily Statesman. On January 1, 1887, Governor Sul Ross held his inaugural ball in its ballroom, beginning a tradition for every Texas governor since.
Driskill unfortunately did not have the clientele to match the splendor of his four-star hotel. At a time when other hotels were 50 cents to one dollar per night, Driskill charged $2.50 to $5.00 (including meals), an exorbitant sum at what was then still relatively a Wild West town. Following the loss of a great fortune in cattle drives, Driskill was forced to close the hotel in May 1887, less than a year after it opened, when half his staff was poached by the Beach Hotel in Galveston. According to legend, he finally lost the hotel in a game of poker in 1888 to his brother-in-law, Jim "Doc" Day, who became its second owner. Driskill died of a stroke in 1890.