Once featured on “Texas Most Endangered Places” list by Texas Preservation and destine for demolition, the Magnolia Hotel has now been rescued by owners Jim and Erin Ghedi. The building began its place in Texas history as a simple two room log cabin with a dog-trot in the middle built in 1839 by Texas Ranger, James Campbell. Campbell was a member of the Gonzales Militia of Mounted Rangers who helped guard the early settlers against Indian attacks, he then fought in Texas War of Independence from Mexico. He also helped guard San Antonio during the Council House Fight with the Comanche in 1840. Soon after the war, the burned out and struggling small communities, like Gonzales, could not support the vast influx of new settlers pouring into this new Republic of Texas. The need was soon evident that more communities needed to be built further to the west than the previous towns, where land was still available to be purchased. James Campbell was very familiar with the oasis and security of the Walnut Springs in this area, which was a favorite campground for militiamen and Rangers while out scouting. He, his Texas Ranger Captain, Matthew Caldwell, and Arthur Swift founded the new community of Walnut Springs, which later had to change its name. James Campbell and John King suggested the town be named “Seguin,” in honor of the Texas patriot and hero, Juan Seguin.
The wood used to build his log cabin was actually designated for the town’s fort but when deemed not necessary it was sold to Campbell. The bark from these logs are still visible as well as the pegs used for stabling. Soon after this bitter event with the Comanche, Campbell was attacked and horribly massacred by two Comanche one mile outside of San Antonio on June 18, 1840. His friends and companions buried him at the site of his attack. His two-room, dog-trot cabin in Seguin was purchased after his death and became the first stage-coach stop for the village of Seguin. Then the original three room hotel was built in 1844 behind the stagecoach station out of a solution known as Park’s Concrete. This hotel was also used as a wedding chapel where many well-known Texans were married such as the famous Texas Ranger Captain John “Jack” Coffee Hays. Hays married his beloved Susan Calvert in 1847 as her father (the owner of the Magnolia Hotel) conducted the ceremony. The hotel became one of the stopping points for many brave Texas Rangers who protected the settlers of Texas. The most recognizable name was Hays’ closest friend, Texas Ranger William “Big Foot” Wallace. These two men fought alongside each other during the Battle of Salado Creek and remained friends for life. In 1848 a large shelter was dug out under the stagecoach station by slave laborers to be used as an Indian Raid Shelter. It served as a safe place for the women and children whenever the men were called to fight against raiding Comanche’s. These women would sharpen knives and make bullets while hiding. This shelter was also used as the city’s first jail until one could be built just 300 feet away. The remnants of the bars on the windows and latches for the cells are still visible. The famous hanging tree was just across the street where it was used during Texas’ days of lawlessness, most notably by Captain Hays. Hays hung several Comanche braves, runaway slaves and men who he felt did not obey by his laws during this time. In 1850 the building changed hands and the two story wooden section was added in the middle combining all three buildings into what is now recognizes as the Magnolia Hotel. The building was built by slave labor and local pre-railroad frontier material.
During the years of 1850 the hotel was the hub of social gatherings. It was considered the finest hotel in Texas. Without a town newspaper the hotel was the gathering place for the town to share local news with one another. Known for gala events, it was the place to be for socialites. It is during this time that the hotel came into possession of the actual ALAMO Bell. The bell hung in front of the building for years announcing the arrival of the stagecoaches. It wasn’t until the Daughters of the Republic of Texas discovered it that it was then returned back to the Alamo. The hotel’s most famous frequent visitor was Governor John Ireland (Ox Cart John) whose daughter, Matilda had married the owner of the Magnolia Hotel’s son, Evan Shelby. The couple ran the hotel at the time. Governor Ireland fought hard to bring the railroad to Seguin and won. When the railroad made its way to Seguin, the Governor made a grand speech on the hotel’s front balcony and an elegant celebration was held inside the Magnolia Hotel. Special plates were made for the event and are displayed in the city’s local museum.
During the Civil War the Magnolia Hotel was able to survive the horrific years but took on hard times when the Union Soldiers made their way to Seguin during the Reconstruction Era. Just across the street, the Union Soldiers made their camp. Union Officers seized the hotel for their base and soldiers invaded the Indian Raid Shelter for additional lodging. Many Union soldier bullets have been uncovered on the property. It is has been discovered that President Ulysses S Grant lodged at the Magnolia Hotel when he led the army's supervision of Reconstruction in the former Confederate states. It is known that Grant visited almost every encampment and would only stay in the best accommodations.
The Magnolia Hotel survived the intrusive invasion of the Reconstruction Era and during the 1880’s it once again flourished as a grand establishment. It wasn’t until 1910 that it became a boarding house and new hotels were constructed in the area.
Built in 1840 as a two room log cabin it was transformed into Seguin's first (now oldest) hotel and first stagecoach station. A true TEXAS Landmark! For more info go to: www.hauntedmagnoliahotel.com
The Magnolia Hotel is being restored to its original 1880 grandeur. The owners offer public history tours by appointment and rental of the original 1850's dining room for meetings and social gatherings.
Owned by author, Erin O Wallace (Ghedi) and Jim Ghedi, the Magnolia Hotel (203 S Crockett St, Seguin, TX 78155) was established in 1838 and considered one of Texas’ oldest cities, Seguin was once home to as many as 90 limecrete buildings, an innovated c
To restore and preserve this fabulous historical building plus share its history uncovered along the way.