Jesse Lincoln Driskill born in Tennessee.
Jesse Lincoln Driskill born in Tennessee.
Jesse Driskill comes to Texas by way of Missouri.
Jesse Driskill enters the cattle business.
Driskill moves with his wife Nancy Elizabeth Jane Day, four daughters and two sons to Austin, the westernmost metropolis in the state at that time. Driskill has already made and lost a fortune during the Civil War selling cattle to the Confederacy, where he is given the honorary title of “Colonel.”
Statewide Election permanently establishes Austin as the capital of Texas.
Colonel Driskill becomes a wealthy cattle baron, established businessman, and active civic leader known throughout the region. Driskill decides to build a luxurious grand hotel in his adopted hometown of Austin, one that would rival the palaces of New York, Chicago, St. Louis and San Francisco, to serve as a showpiece for the frontier town.
Driskill purchases the lot at the corner of Brazos and Pecan (later renamed 6th Street), for a total of $7,500. The Driskill becomes the talk of the town.
The grand opening of The Driskill is heralded by a special supplement in the Daily Statesman that proudly touts The Driskill as “One of the Finest Hotels in the Whole Country.” The entire cost is estimated at $400,000 – the equivalent of $92 million today. An impressive new state capitol building with the largest dome ever constructed in the United States is begun. There is talk of building a dam and power plant on the Colorado River.
Less than two weeks after the grand opening, The Driskill hosts its first inaugural ball for newly elected Texas Governor, Sul Ross. A tradition is quickly established. Later, governors including William P. Hobby, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, Dan Moody, John Connally and Ann Richards staged their inaugural balls at The Driskill.
The Driskill General Manager, S.E. McIlhenny and half the staff, including the headwaiter and bartender, are hired away by Galveston’s Beach Hotel. This loss of key staff proves disastrous for the new hotel; The Driskill closes its doors.
The new owner of The Driskill, the Colonel’s brother-in-law, “Doc” Day, continues the positioning of The Driskill as Austin’s premier site for lavish events by hosting international dignitaries for the dedication of the state’s new granite capitol.
In May, Colonel Driskill dies of a stroke. Four months later, the hotel purchased a life size portrait of its creator, which now presides over the opulent lobby.
“Doc” Day trades The Driskill for a California ranch and vineyard, plus $14,000 in cash to M.B. Curtis, an actor known as Sam’l of Posen.
The Driskill is sold at auction for $76,000 to a group of New York investors and quickly resold for $75,000 to the British holders of its mortgage.
Major George R. Littlefield, a cattle baron, banker and president of the Texas Rangers, acquires the hotel for $106,000 in cash and becomes the fifth owner. He vows the hotel will never close again. Littlefield promises and delivers a first-class renovation that costs more than $60,000, including electric lighting, steam heating, 28 lavatories with bathtubs in the hotel, and electric fans in every room. He also opens a bank in the lobby of The Driskill; the original vault and door remain today.
Littlefield sells the hotel at a loss of more than $25,000 to Edward Seeling for $80,000 in cash.
A controversial meeting held by the Daughters of the Texas Republic to determine the fate of the Alamo results in the governor being forced to intervene. That same year, the hotel stages its first “election watch” party using a stereopticon to project national results against a large outdoor backdrop.
A barber shop and women’s spa open in the storefront facing 6th Street, consisting of eight chairs and numerous electric baths supplied by the hotel’s own artesian well. Relaxing in the healing “sulphur” waters, or Turkish baths, quickly becomes a popular attraction at The Driskill, as does visiting psychic healers and purchasing elixirs from the medicine men that set up shop in the hotel.
Governor William P. Hobby’s inaugural ball is perhaps the most spectacular event to date. It features several orchestras playing in stereo from behind forests of ferns, amidst lavish decorations resembling a European Court.
The new annex is completed, and private baths are added to the 60 suites in the original structure. The Maximilian Room is created. Formerly the Men’s Parlor and Smoking Room, it draws its name from eight famous Austrian gold leaf framed mirrors once belonging to Emperor Maximilian of Mexico and his wife, Empress Carlotta. Reportedly the “most beautiful woman in Europe,” it is Carlotta’s image that adorns each frame. No one knows how the mirrors ended up in the San Antonio antique shop from which they were purchased.
An aspiring Texas politician named Lyndon Baines Johnson meets his future wife, Lady Bird, for their first date in The Driskill Dining Room for breakfast. This starts a life-long love affair for The Driskill and the future President and First Lady of the United States.
Lyndon B. Johnson awaits the results of his U.S. Senate race against Coke Stevenson in the Jim Hogg Suite at The Driskill. LBJ wins.
Lyndon B. Johnson awaits the results of his Presidential re-election run in the Jim Hogg Suite at The Driskill. Again LBJ wins. During LBJ’s Presidential tenure, The Driskill served as the headquarters for the White House Press Corps and a suite, today known as the Governor’s Suite (located on the fifth floor), was permanently reserved for President Johnson.
The Driskill closes for a complete remodeling and the construction of the proposed 19-story tower. The private clubs and retail remain open. The new proposed tower would include a modern glass facade. The tower plans fall through and the demolition of the hotel appears imminent.
A Save-the-Driskill community effort raises more than $700,000 in sales of $10 stock for the new Driskill Hotel Corporation. The re-development budget balloons to almost $2 million once loans and corporate contributions are added.
The Driskill hosts a series of grand re-opening galas. More than 1,200 guests attend, including every Texas governor from the last 20 years as well as the descendants of Texas governors since 1890.
The Driskill is sold by Braniff International to California-based Lara Hotels, which announces yet another renovation that will cost $2.5 million.
Lincoln sells majority interest to the New York-based Austin Realty, Inc. The new management promises to fine-tune The Driskill for its 100th birthday celebration in December.
CapStar, a hotel management and ownership firm based in Washington D.C., assumes a minority ownership and commits $400,000 to renovations.
Great American Life Insurance purchases The Driskill, vowing to restore the grand hotel. The massive restoration project begins, with every aspect of the hotel being restored to its original grandeur over a closure time of four years.
Celebrating the history of the 1886 Lunchroom, 1886 Café & Bakery opens, serving classic Texan comfort foods.
The Driskill Grill receives Food & Wine magazine’s acknowledgement as home of one of the Top 10 Best New Chefs in the country, David Bull.
Great American Life Insurance sells the property to California-based Lowe Enterprises, and The Driskill is managed by Destination Hotels & Resorts.
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts acquires and takes over management of The Driskill, with planned investments of $8 million in upgrades to Austin’s iconic property.