|Havana Riverwalk Inn History
Though buyers of this unique and mysterious hotel created a paper trail
archived by the San Antonio Conservation Society, not much else is known
about the goings-on at the Havana prior to 1973.
In 1891, Edward Franz Melcher, son of a German immigrant, moved to San
Antonio. Soon he was a successful grocer and entrepreneur. The Havana,
which would sit on a tract of land along the riverwalk purchased for $7,500
in 1909, was originally built to house Melcher's wholesale grocery buyers.
Arthur J. Herrmann of San Antonio served as the architect on the project
and the Havana Building opened in 1914. Many of the cypress, palm, and
magnolia trees originally planted still remain today. During the 12 years
Melcher spent living with his wife, Kathinka, in the Havana, he deeded
a portion of the Havana's property to the city for river walk realignment
Nat Washer bought the Havana in 1926 and he would own it through the
Roaring 20s during which San Antonio expanded rapidly. Washer played a
large role in the construction of the Scottish Rite Temple, the YMCA, and
the Municipal Auditorium located within a stone's throw of the Havana.
After Washer sold the Havana to business associates in the late 1920s,
Lucille J. Oppenheimer, a relative of Washer's, eventually purchased
it and would carry it through the initial stage of the dismal Great Depression.
In 1931, the father of Morris Jaffe, a prominent San Antonio businessman,
bought the Havana and Jaffe's mother took on the project of restoring it
to its previous state as a fine hotel. Sometime during the mid-1930s, Nelda
Mendenhall leased the hotel and rented rooms to residents and a few businesses.
For the next (roughly) 40 years, historical documents lack any significant
information about the hotel's operations or owners. In 1973, Jaffe sold
the Havana to the Havana Venture. Again, eleven years go by undocumented
until Heinze Home Builders Inc. and Bennett-Williams Co. buy the building
in a joint venture with intentions to restore it for use as a restaurant
and executive offices. It was then listed in the National Register of Historic
Places in 1986 but by 1988 had fallen into the portfolio of the Resolution
Trust Corp, an asset management company charged with liquidating. After
two years of bids and proposals, Theresa Greer was finally able to purchase
the building in 1992.
2010: Havana Riverwalk Inn under renovations and reopens in April.
2009: Bunkhouse Management purchases Havana Riverwalk Inn
1997: Havana Riverwalk Inn on Navarro opens in April.
1992: After two years of bids and proposals, Theresa Greer, an experienced
property buyer and restorer, purchased the Havana.
1988: The building passed into the portfolio of Resolution Trust Corp.
1986: The Havana was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
1984: Heinze Home Builders Inc. and Bennett-Williams Co. bought it with
intentions to restore it for use as restaurant and executive offices.
1973: Jaffe sold the Havana to the Havana Venture.
Mid 1930s - 1973: History of the Havana is unclear, little is known
about the building's operations.
Mid 1930s: Nelda Mendenhall leased the hotel and rented rooms to residents
and a few businesses.
1931: After having barely survived the Depression, the hotel was purchased
by Morris Jaffe's father. Jaffe's mother restored it to its former position
as a fine hotel. Most of the guests were telephone operators who worked
at the Southwestern Bell Telephone Tower.
Late 1920s: Washer sold the Havana to business associates and it was
eventually purchased by his relative, Lucille J. Oppenheimer.
The Roaring 20s: San Antonio developed at a rapid pace. During this
time, Washer was instrumental in the construction of the Scottish Rite
Temple, the YMCA, and the Municipal Auditorium.
1926: Nat Washer bought the Havana from Melcher.
1920: Melcher deeded a portion of the Havana's property to the city
for realignment and development. According to some records, Melcher and
his wife Kathinka lived in the building for 12 years.
1914: Architect Arthur J. Herrmann of San Antonio completed the Havana
building and it was opened.
1909: Edward Franz Melcher purchased the 1015 Navarro tract of riverfront
property from the Ursuline Academy for $7,500 to house wholesale grocery