The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

A Peek at Pearl Brewery's Hotel Emma

The first Saturday in January, I took my friend Sage down to the Pearl Brewery Farmers Market. That is always a fun trip but I really wanted to show her the Hotel Emma. It is unique and I knew she would appreciate it. Hotel Emma was originally a 19th century brewery. As part of renewing this entire area, the brewery was converted to a hotel.

The hotel is named in honor of Emma Koehler, an important figure in the brewery's history. Emma ran the brewery after her husband Otto who was the president of Pearl died in 1914. She managed to keep the brewery going during Prohibition by converting operations to dry cleaning and auto repair and making "near beer", soda, and ice cream. Other breweries shut down but Emma kept her entire workforce employed. She turned over control of the company to a nephew in 1933 but was a strong presence at the brewery until she died in 1943.

 But the story is even more intriguing. There were actually three "Emmas" involved in the story. 

 Emma Koehler was hurt in an auto accident in 1910, so Otto hired a live-in nurse to help… a young, attractive nurse named Emma, nicknamed Emmi. Otto and Emmi began an affair.  Emmi had a tall, blonde friend also named Emma, also a nurse.  Otto set the two of them up in a little house on Hunstock Ave. and soon was having affairs with both.  On November 12, 1914 Otto left the Brewery around 4:00 to visit the nurses.  An argument ensued and tall, blonde Emma shot him dead with a .32 revolver.  When the police arrived, she said, “I’m sorry, but I had to kill him.” Charged with murder, Emma skipped town and traveled to Europe to nurse WWI casualties. To the surprise of all, she returned to San Antonio in 1918 to stand trial.  The all-male jury found her not guilty.

On with the tour....also, I wanted to mention that most of the pictures in the post were taken by Sage Mingan.

Out front just beyond the circle driveway, there is a patio where a beautiful fireplace sets the stage for entering the hotel. 

The hotel takes full advantage of its history to use elements of the former brewery for unique d├ęcor.

Stepping into the lobby, you can see piping on the ceiling and walls. 

There is exposed brick and actual equipment that was used in brewing.

There are lots of places to just sit in and take in the scenery.

A window into an old barrel storage room.

Also scattered around are unique old items.

And decorative tiles.

Unique light fixtures.

You will even find unique signage and names.

And heavy, old doors that are obviously hundreds of years old.

And beautiful woven fabrics from far away places.

Peek out a door to a hidden patio just waiting for guests to discover it.

All these valves used to operate different portions of the brewing process. 

A beautiful spiral staircase sits in one corner of another room were guests can order drinks and snacks and sit and don't even have to be a guest to enjoy all of this.

Several old vats were cut open and filled with seating to provide a private nook for visitors.

If you are ever in San Antonio, be sure to visit the Hotel Emma located on the riverwalk northwest of downtown. You can take your own tour and see everything on the main floor, visit the coffee shop, order a drink, or just sit and relax and take in the scenery. If you want to see more of the hotel beyond the main floor, you could be a guest or you could sign up for one of the hotel's tours for $15. 
If you come on a Saturday or Sunday, you can also enjoy the Pearl Farmers Market right beyond the hotel.


  1. What a beautiful building. I love it when they preserve buildings and don't just bulldoze them.

  2. Be sure to visit the Pearl area on your next trip to San Antonio. They have repurposed all the brewery buildings. The cannery buildings are apartments and condos. There is a round stable which is used for events. Lots of restaurants and shops in the area buildings too. San Antonio is great for renovating, restoring and repurposing old buildings.

  3. Wow! Need to put it on my ever growing list.


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