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The Grande Dame of Austin: Driskill Hotel

 

 

The Grande Dame is available for $27 online or $25 in person. 





A landmark like no other...

The Driskill is “along with the Capitol and the University of Texas Tower, a third of Austin’s pale triumvirate of beloved architectural landmarks.” It is filled with works of art and priceless antiques, such as the “Carlota Mirrors.” Its lobby, halls, and rooms are said to be stalked by the spirits of past tenants. Its amenities, particularly the dishes offered in its eating establishments, have become legendary. It is where Lyndon Baines Johnson took Lady Bird on their first date, where he proposed marriage to her; and where he watched televised election returns when the nation elected him President in 1964. Very few hotels in the world can compare, either in history, beauty, or class.

Consider what might happen if a single, attractive structure was erected to attract and house celebrities, common people, and scoundrels for more than 130 years. Consider what else might happen if the structure also became the favorite lodging of a President, the scene of endless legislative deal-making and the place that locals, tourists, and dignitaries went to stay, celebrate, cut loose, and engage in peccadilloes. That and more, is the story of the Driskill Hotel. Yet this book is much more than the history of a hotel. It is the tale of a Texas tradition, a political “capitol away from the Capitol,” a gathering place of Society’s elite, the mainstay of a community, and a place of adventure. Whether the reader is interested in Texas history, Austin’s history, hotels, politics, true crime, or ghosts, there is something for all in The Grande Dame of Austin: A History of the Driskill Hotel.

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About the Author

 

Monte Akers is a practicing attorney in Austin, Texas. He is the author of Flames After Midnight: Murder, Vengeance, and the Desolation of a Texas Community (University of Texas Press, 1999 & 2011); Tales for the Telling: Six Short Stories of the Civil War on CD (Cold Creek Productions: 2005), The Accidental Historian: Tales of Trash and Treasure (Texas Tech University Press, 2010); Year of Glory: The Life and Campaigns of Jeb. Stuart, June, 1862 to June 1863 (Casemate Publishing, 2012); and Year of Desperate Struggle: Jeb Stuart and His Cavalry from Gettysburg to Yellow Tavern, 1863- 1864 (Casemate Publishing, 2014); and Tower Sniper:The Terror of America’s First Active Shooter on Campus (co-authored with his son, Nathan Akers, and Dr. Roger Friedman) (John M. Hardy Publishing, 2016).


About The Grande Dame of Austin: Driskill Hotel

 

The story of the Driskill Hotel is much more than a dry history about an old lodging place. Built in 1886 and designed to be on the cutting edge of elegance, it became a monument to Texas, the City of Austin, and its colorful owner. Over the next 130-plus years, the hotel served as the epicenter for Texas politics and Austin society. Along the way, it accumulated a vibrant collection of tales about political intrigue, murder, suicide, gunfights, and ghosts. When it was finally threatened with demolition after surviving some 85 years—much longer than the life expectancy of most hotels—the citizens of Austin and Texas rallied and saved it. Today it is not merely a reflection of Victorian-era elegance, but a breathtaking work of art.