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  Texas : Architecture : Rooms with a Past

ROOMS WITH A PAST - TEXAS HOTELS BUILT BEFORE 1950 :

THE AUMONT HOTEL
Seguin, Texas

Atlee B. Ayres, Architect
1916

by John Troesser

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Seguin Hotels

Seguin Texas Aumont Hotel 1925 postcard
The Aumont Hotel c.1925
Photo Courtesy Earle Seaman
Aumont Hotel today,  Seguin Texas
A recent photo of the Aumont
TE Photo
While the Guadalupe County Courthouse was designed by the relatively unknown architect L.M. Wirtz, the architect for Seguin's Aumont Hotel was the illustrious Atlee B. Ayers, who later designed courthouses for Refugio, Cameron, Jim Wells, and Kleburg Counties (Refugio, Brownsville, Alice and Kingsville, respectively). Mr. Ayers was also The State Architect for awhile and suggested that architects be licensed. Mr. Ayers held Texas Architects License No. 3.

The Aumont opened in November of 1916, costing $100,000. With the Park (costing $75,000) opening on January 9, 1917, the number of hotel rooms for a city the size of
Seguin gave it a ratio of 22 rooms per 1000 (based on the 1920 Census). This was a higher average than St. Louis, Detroit or even New York City! (See Hotel Wars in Seguin 1916 )
Aumont Hotel lobby, Seguin Texas
The Aumont Hotel Lobby
TE Photo
View from Aumont Hotel room
A view from The Aumont Tower
Photo Courtesy Seguin Main Street Program Coordinator Mary Jo Filip
A lot is going on at the old Aumont Hotel. Glamour is being reintroduced. Our recent visit showed the lobby to be sporting a shiny new baby grand piano. The ballroom now glistens and the mezzanine will soon follow.


Like the Plaza, it's born-the-same-year neighbor a few blocks away, the Aumont has "chicken-wire" tile and marble on the floor and staircases. This fine detail is also displayed in lobby of Waxahachie's beautiful Rogers Hotel.
Little Miss Aumont
Little Miss Aumont
Photo Courtesy Cliftine Dwyer and Earle Seaman
Aumont Hotel kitchen vintage photo
The Aumont Kitchen c.1926
Chef Van Gilder and Daughter Cliftine
Photo Courtesy Earle Seaman
A photo in the lobby shows a 10 year old girl holding her luggage which is theatrically marked with oversized letters stating: Aumont Hotel. She is facing the camera with an exasperated frown.

Abel Rodriquez, who is leasing the lobby, outdoor terraces and the ballroom from owner Earl Seaman, told us that there's an interesting story behind the photo and that the girl was still living in Seguin.

Abel arranged for us to get her number and we called for an interview. What we found was that the unhappy little girl was Mrs. Cliftine Dwyer. The story turned out to be one of the best we've heard this year and one that will not be soon surpassed. (Click here for Eloise in Texas.)

It seems that the Chamber of Commerce was holding a contest at the Texas Theater and that every business in town was to be represented by a Junior Seguinite, somehow associated with that business. Since Cliftine was at the peak of cuteness, there was no question about who would represent the Aumont.

Plans were made for her to enter stage right, followed by the 4 year-old grandson of the Hotel's Bellman. He was decked out in a gleaming white uniform, carrying the luggage of Miss Aumont, who was playing the part of a sophisticated lady checking into the Hotel. Cliftine was humiliated by having the little boy carry her luggage and was photographed in this mood, just prior to leaving the hotel for the trip to the Texas Theater.

Mrs. Dwyer remembers being six years old, and also remembers who won first and second place. First place, she told us, was won by Mary Lee Roberts and second place was Betty Jean Jones. She also remembers that the first prize was a small diamond ring (and that Mary Lee lost it) and second prize was a small add-a-pearl bracelet, that Betty Jean still has. All three women still reside in
Seguin.

Pride in
Seguin runs deep and only after several probing questions, did Mrs. Dwyer admit she was born elsewhere (San Antonio) where her parents, both Seguinites, were working.
A photo of the event can be seen today in the Lobby of the Texas Theater.

Aumont Owner Earle Seaman gave us a tour of the Aumont which revealed both the quality of the original construction and the detail that's going into the restoration.

October 2000
John Troesser

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