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NIMITZ HOTEL. Fredericksburg's original Nimitz Hotel was built on Main Street in the late 1840s or early 1850s and acquired by Charles H. Nimitz in 1855. The hotel had four rooms and a large central fireplace. Nimitz subsequently built a new structure of adobe and wood and eventually expanded to fifty rooms. The hotel's Casino Hall quickly became a center of Fredericksburg social life; Nimitz also provided a room in which traveling salesmen could display their wares and a bathhouse that reportedly offered the only hot baths between San Antonio and El Paso. In addition, he operated a brewery, a saloon, and a general store at the hotel. The hotel had a rose garden, a vegetable garden, a grape arbor, and a stagecoach stop at the back protected by a high stone wall. The Nimitz soon gained a reputation for comfort and convenience. A number of families from Houston and Galveston spent their summers there, and among the more notable guests of the hotel were President Rutherford B. Hayes, Robert E. Lee (whose furniture Nimitz bought when Lee left Texas), Philip H. Sheridan, Horace Greeley, William Sydney Porter, the explorer Adolphus W. Greely, Ulysses S. Grant, William Rufus Shafter, Fitzhugh Lee, Earl Van Dorn and James T. Longstreet. Nimitz added the hotel's famous steamboat-shaped superstructure sometime after 1888 and finally deeded the hotel to his son, Charles, Jr., on June 6, 1906. The elder Nimitz continued to live there until his death on April 28, 1911; his son and daughter-in-law sold the hotel on July 29, 1926, to a group of local men who remodeled it extensively at a cost of $125,000; they removed the ship-like superstructure and deeded the hotel to the Hotel Nimitz Company on October 13, 1926. Eventually Henry J. Schmidt became the sole owner and dissolved the corporation on October 10, 1947. The hotel closed in fall 1963, and Schmidt sold it to the nonprofit Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Naval Museum on September 22, 1964. The hotel was renovated and opened as a museum on the anniversary of Admiral Nimitz's birth, February 24, 1967. Ownership of the hotel was transferred to the Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Memorial Naval Museum Commission on June 15, 1970. In 1976 a Japanese Peace Garden was established behind the hotel as a Bicentennial gift from the Japanese government. The steamboat appearance has been reconstructed. The hotel serves as the Admiral Nimitz Museum and headquarters of the National Museum of the Pacific War was administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department until 2005 when the site was transferred to the Texas Historical Commission. The site is administered by the Admiral Nimitz Foundation through an agreement with the Texas Historical Commission.
Roy Brooks and Barbara J. Baskin, Archeological Investigations of the Barn at the Admiral Nimitz Center, Fredericksburg, Texas, ed. Curtis Tunnell and Kathy Freydenfeldt (Austin: Office of the State Archeologist and Texas Historical Commission, 1976). Elise Kowert, Old Homes and Buildings of Fredericksburg (Fredericksburg, Texas: Fredericksburg Publishing, 1977). Marjorie Nagel, "Nimitz Hotel," Junior Historian, September 1941. Richard Zelade, Hill Country (Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1983).
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Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on August 29, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.