Sunday, February 22, 2015

Grand Old Lady

This was the last day of my SPP TWG committee meeting in San Antonio (I know you have no idea what that group is, but I wanted to show that it did have a name). One of the first things I noticed from my hotel window (which did NOT overlook the River Walk) was this old building. She was straight and true and was clearly winning her battle with age. Someone was caring for her. I wanted to know more about her.

My committee meeting took most of my time. My first priority was a River Walk sketch, which I was able to get after the first day of the meeting (prior post). Plenty of street people out for some reason. Got pan handled a couple times but never felt threatened. I did a web search and learned that the Hotel Robert E. Lee was now apartments for rent for the unbelievably low range of $600 to $900 a month! There must be more to this story.

My break came when our meeting ended a half hour early. That gave me one hour before I had to catch a taxi to the airport. I checked my luggage with the bellman, grabbed my sketch gear and hustled to the Hotel, which was only a couple blocks away. First, check out the lobby. I met a staffer so I struck up some dialogue. This is now a rent-assisted apartment complex run by the State of Texas, and a person's annual income must be below $25K. All the architecture has been maintained well, with some nice cut stained glass at the far end of the lobby. More paint on wood trim than I like, but it's still cared for.

Now for the sketch. Need to walk around for a nice view that I can stand or sit for a while. Found a surface parking lot that worked. I leaned up against a parking lot lightpole and started. Then, in the corner of my eye, a body slowly approached. I figure it's a street person and I'm going to be hustled again. Nope. "May I help you?"  I look. It's a cop! I explain that I'm on business travel and I like to sketch and I really like this Hotel. He gives me the eye and is quiet. I show him my book. Still quiet. I said I found out on-line that this old hotel is now apartments, and that a staffer told me it's some type of subsidized housing. He finally talks, and seems nice. He verifies the story and tells me more. This old hotel was top of the line when it was built. It was the first retail establishment built in San Antonio with air conditioning! The ground level access was all retail sales for shopping. This was a show piece. He said he'd leave me to my sketching and left. I sketched for another 15 minutes and finished. Packed my gear and left. Then I saw the cop had simply driven a little further and had parked, with me in his plain view. Maybe I DIDN'T convince him of my innocence. I waved goodbye and left. Mission accomplished.


Donn said...

Nice sketch of the building.

Kate (Cathy Johnson) said...

Cool place, John, and I love your sketch!