The up-and-coming Pearl District is a must-see for anyone traveling to San Antonio, Texas. What is quickly becoming the hippest part of town is centered around one historic building: Hotel Emma. But this central figure of San Antonio holds the darkest secret of the whole city’s past. The secret is so carefully hidden that the locals only let it slip after a drink... or three.
Welcome to Hotel Emma
This 19th-century brewery-turned-hotel is the ultimate place to lay your head for the night. It can be found in the swelteringly hot city of San Antonio, specifically if you are passing through the historic setting of the Alamo. But guests should beware.
Although the city's battle scars have faded, hints of a dark past can be found within the Hotel Emma. The hotel may sound sweet, but its ominous past has been branded right into its seemingly innocuous name.
Otto Koehler's plan
It all started back in 1902 when a German immigrant named Otto Koehler left his job as a manager at the Lone Star Brewery to take the helm of the Pearl Brewing Company. Spurred to action by a deep-seated need to prove himself as a businessman, he had big plans to turn the Pearl into one of the biggest breweries in the country.
Koehler didn't approach the challenge totally unprepared, of course. He definitely knew his way around a brewery, and not because he loved to drink.
Changing the game
Koehler had long ago dedicated himself to learning the tricks of the trade. After leaving Germany, Otto settled in St. Louis, where he learned all the ins and outs of the brewing business. By the time he moved to San Antonio, he was a force to be reckoned with, and it was not long at all before he put his expertise to the test.
Koehler became President of the Brewing Association. Finally a respected leader, Koehler's future as a major player in the brewery business seemed bright.
The first Emma
His expertise in the beer trade, coupled with his successful investments, made Otto not only a very respected man but an extremely rich one. In fact, he was known as one of the wealthiest men in the Southwest! But with Pearl Brewing Company and his other business endeavors on his plate, it's possible that he lost sight of something important: his marriage.
His untimely death in 1914 left Emma in a difficult spot. She had a choice to make: continue her husband's work or sell the brewery.