Emma: August’s Gilded Age Beauty
Jun 22, 2015
During renovation, the construction crews called it “the cathedral,” an appropriately reverent term for the towering temple of Gilded Age architectural excess, which was the Brewhouse and is Hotel Emma.
Designed by August Maritzen in 1894, the Brewhouse was San Antonio’s tallest building for a while. Maritzen specialized in colossal, audacious brewery buildings — he designed more than eighty and claimed to have built a brewery in every one of the union’s 44 states.
Today Hotel Emma is resplendent in the Second Empire mass and furbelows that Maritzen conceived 120 years ago. While her current architects and designers have been respectful of Maritzen’s vision, they have not been constrained by it. What would August think of brewing tanks in the ballroom and chandeliers fashioned from labeling equipment? We like to imagine that after he harrumphed through his initial shock, he’d see the beauty, wit and regard evident in every loving detail.
“The entire development is a case study in how a visionary client and insightful designers can transform a post-industrial landscape into a place of enrichment and vitality.”
— Stephen Sharpe
Texas Architect magazine