Historic Structures

Excelsior Hotel, Jefferson Texas

Date added: September 29, 2017 Categories: Texas Hotel

The frame portion of the building was built in 1858 by Captain William. Ferry of New Hampshire, it was used as an hotel and was known as the Irvine House. The corner portion of the hotel which is of brick was built during the 1860's but it has nothing of the charm, that is found in the frame portion. New Orleans influence is found here not only in the iron work of the street front but also in the semi-patio in the rear. The old registers bear the signatures of Jay Gould, John Jacob Astor, H. K. Vanderbilt, General U, S. Grant and scores of actors and actresses of a by-gone period.

Captain William Perry, owner of dredge boats which kept the Big Cypress Bayou open for steamboat traffic, acquired the property in 1858. In 1867, it was sold to William Tumlin. In 1869, after the death of Tumlin, A. A. Terhune became the owner. At this time it was known as the "Commercial Hotel." During the next decade ownership changed hands frequently, until Mrs. Kate Wood purchased the property in 1878. After her death in 1907, the hotel was inherited by her daughter, Mrs. Amelia McNeely. In 1920, the property was bequeathed to George S, Neidermeir. Hotel ownership remained in this family until 1954 when it was purchased by Mrs. James H. Peters. The Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club purchased the hotel in 1961 and restored it.

The porch and colonnade next to the street, which tie the two wings together visually, are undated. They appear to have been added after the two hotel wings were constructed. The two solariums, garden landscaping, front planter, and new entry-door to the northeast wing were added during Mrs. James H. Peters' ownership. She also remodeled several of the guest rooms in the southwest wing. The kitchen on the northwest was added in 1964.

Among the famous guests of the hotel were Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes and John Jacob Aster. Oscar Wilde was also a guest there when he was in Jefferson to recite poetry at the opera house.

The ground floor contains a lobby, museum, ballroom and dining room. The second floor has a central corridor on either side of which are the guest rooms. There were apparently 19 guest rooms, approximately 9'-9" by 10'-6 1/2". Many partitions have been removed to make larger rooms.