San Antonio's history is filled with violence, blood and tortured souls unable to move on. The city is filled with thousands of these desperate spirits, aching to whisper their stories to anyone who may come along. When visiting San Antonio, it would greatly behoove you to pay close attention, and err on the side of caution, as you never know when you might just hear one of the city's many ghosts.
You may already be familiar with the haunting grounds of The Alamo, The Menger Hotel, The Black Swan Inn and the Railroad Tracks at Shane Road, but if you're in the mood for a drink to go along with your ghostly whispers, then have a margarita (or three) at the Cadillac Bar & Restaurant. Not far from the Spanish Governor's Palace, The Cadillac Bar is located (212 South Flores Street) in a part of San Antonio that dates all the way back to the nineteenth century, back to the days of The Alamo. The Cadillac is actually just less than a mile from where The Alamo stands, and around the corner from the courthouse (the site of many public executions).
One of the Cadillac's more frequently seen ghosts is Beatrice. Beatrice is said to be a former employee of the building (possibly a former prostitute), and during her time working in the building, she developed quite the reputation for being an unpleasant person. Apparently, her unhappy disposition is even worse now that she is a ghost, as she wreaks havoc in the kitchen by way of throwing utensils across the room, and obnoxiously turns the faucets to the sinks off and on. Not exactly malevolent, but still rather pugilistic and odious behavior.
While, the Cadillac Bar is known for its great food and drinks, and as a gathering spot for high school reunions, most visitors (famous guests include: President George H. W. Bush, Elton John, the guys from ZZ Top and the most famous of all, Randy Quaid) come to the historic establishment in hopes of seeing one of the bar's many ghostly residents.
In the year of 1870, Herman Dietrich Stumberg (a German immigrant) and his son George had the structure (that now houses The Cadillac Bar Restaurant) built out of heavy limestone. Herman had purchased the lot seven years prior. The building became Stumberg’s General Store, in which a camp yard for wagons and livestock sat behind the store itself. Stumberg's quickly became a meeting ground for farmers and ranchers of the area. The store attracted customers from miles away and proved to be a lucrative business early on. As a result, the Stumberg family became quite wealthy, once more proving at the time that the so-called American Dream could, in fact, become a reality.
A persisting rumor in San Antonio is that Stumberg’s General Store offered more than just dry goods. According to some the store also operated as a brothel—a claim the Stumberg family vehemently denies. Stumberg's General Store continued to operate until it ultimately closed its doors in 1932.
For the next few years the buildings was sold numerous times. Some of the businesses that opened and closed during this time include: A saddle and tack supplies shop (apparently, they once made a saddle for John Wayne), a place that built boats (a little odd), and a feed store (more sensible).
An old-school Cadillac Bar Menu from the 1950s--are you ready to eat here?
In 1980, The Cadillac Bar Restaurant moved into the building. The Cadillac Bar name itself is legendary. The beginnings of the bar are tied to New Orleans, as the original owner of the Cadillac Bar first set up shop in the Crescent City, during the early 1920s. But, as Prohibition intensified, the original owner decided to pack up everything in the year of 1926, and moved to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, where the views on alcohol were more appreciated. To quote The Champs, "tequila!"
The old New Orleans mecca for drinking enthusiasts thrived as a transplant in Nuevo Laredo, as Americans flocked across the Rio Grande to quench their thirst during the Prohibition nonsense. The Cadillac Bar's new location (on the Northwest corner of Hidalgo Plaza) was almost an exact replica of its old New Orleans establishment, and became an alluring resort with their classic "Ramos Gin Fizzes." Not wanting to forget their roots, these ex-New Orleanians painted on the upper portion of the adobe and concrete building, "Cadillac Bar, We Are From New Orleans."
The owner of the famed bar, Alfred S. Roschuni, died at the age of sixty-five in Bexar County, Texas in December of the year 1951. Almost 30 years later, the 1980 move marked The Cadillac Bar's return to the United States. A couple of years later, the building was part of a massive redevelopment that became known as Stumberg Square. In 1985, the project won the San Antonio Conservation Society Award for Excellence.
Things came full circle in December of the year 1991, when Herman Stumberg's great-great-grandson, George Stumberg III, became the operating stockholder in San Antonio's Cadillac Bar.
The building sits near the courthouse and has born witness to many hangings from the trees. The structure was also built on top of a burial ground, which might be the source of the paranormal activity in the basement. For reasons never specified, The Cadillac Bar sealed off their basement permanently. It's rumored, though, that the owners believed there were countless bodies buried beneath the basement, and they could no longer handle the restless spirits. As a last resort, they trapped the spirits in the basement to ensure no further interaction occurred.
Another possible explanation could involve the basement's connection to a series of underground tunnels that are known to run beneath the Downtown San Antonio area. Just imagine a whole world of underground ghosts wandering the tunnels and visiting the different establishments throughout San Antonio. (Ludicrous as the thought might be, it could definitely explain why San Antonio is one of the most haunted cities in America.)
An old postcard of the original San Antonio's Cadillac Bar, dating to the early 20th century.
The ghost of a former owner (possibly a Stumberg, maybe even Herman himself), who is often described as a tall and thin man with a white handlebar mustache, can allegedly be seen near the basement, standing post like a guard on watch. Perhaps he feels that it is his duty to make sure that whatever evil spirits may haunt the basement, stay trapped in the basement. (Sort of like a more paranormal version of “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” deal. Only, we suspect that evil spirits in the basement are a bit … less enticing that Vegas).
Beatrice (the potential former prostitute) is not an evil spirit but she is still said to be a pretty angry one. While alive, she was said to be an ugly person inside and out. Now, her ghost can be seen walking up and down the stairs, in her old and tattered white dress. It is always best to leave her alone, as her temper is quickly triggered. She has been known to throw objects at both staff and patrons alike.
Other reported ghostly sightings include: A man in a sombrero, who has been seen both in the downstairs and upstairs party rooms. In addition to the man in the sombrero, ghostly soldiers have also been spotted in the party room upstairs. Their shadows can be seen walking along the interior wall of the upstairs party room. In the kitchen, a boy appearing to be no more than seven-years-old, will show up time from time. His ghost likes to play pranks and spook the new dishwashers, and it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this activity has resulted in a high turnover rate amongst the employees.
A man named Franklin "Frank" Roe went to the Cadillac Bar one early morning in April of 1996. He had previously loaned the restaurant some saddles and other similar items for a western themed party they had the night before, in their upstairs party room. Frank was in the process of gathering his belongings from the upstairs room and hauling them back downstairs. Apparently, Frank was making quite the ruckus carrying the items down the stairs. The general manager, Jesse Medina (now owner along with Raul Ledezma), commented, "Good grief, Frank, that sounds just like some of our night noises around here."
Frank, perplexed by the remark, asked Jesse, "What are you talking about?" Jesse then told him of the strange noises they sometimes hear in the late hours of the night. Jesse went on to tell him that they have heard chains rattling, as well as the sounds of heavy saddles being dragged down the stairs, much in the same way as Frank had been doing.
Jesse then went on to tell Frank about the sounds of children laughing and playing that have been reported at all times of the day. Frank then interrupted Jesse to ask, "Are you trying to tell me the place might be haunted?" Jesse then replied, "yes," that was indeed the case, and the other employees believe so too.
Jesse had been working for the Cadillac for around twelve years at that point and had experienced all sorts of occurrences at the bar, from strange noises at night to alarms suddenly going off for no reason. And, of course, that included his frequent run-ins with Beatrice. Some of Jesse's accounts involved seeing utensils, serving dishes and bowls flying off the kitchen shelves on their accord. Another time, the faucets had been turning off and on all day long. Finally fed up, Jess said, "I sat near the sink and waited, then I saw with my own eyes as the faucet slowly turned on," as if a ghostly hand was turning the knob. The next day, Jesse had a plumber come out to check the sink but there wasn't a single thing wrong with the faucet.
A waitress at the Cadillac, Linda Frazier (whose twin sister also works at the bar), truly believes the place is haunted. Linda claims to have seen the ghost of a girl late one night, as she was cleaning up near the lower level by the stairs. She described the young woman as slim and wearing a white dress. She said that the woman (Beatrice) had an angry expression upon her face and just stood there glaring at her. She said the woman had stringy blondish hair and a skinny unflattering face. Brenda Cordoway, a bartender at the Cadillac, also has felt her presence. She can actually feel Beatrice staring at her while she works.
With items flying off the shelves and multiple known phantoms, the Cadillac Bar is one of the most haunted places in San Antonio. (Photo dated to 1930s)
On another occasion, Linda and several others encountered Beatrice. This time they were all out on the patio, in the back of the building, an area that is lighted by the first electric street lamps in Texas, which were first installed in 1914. The staff was outside cleaning up after a party that had just ended. One of the employees, taking a quick break, glanced up at the second floor window and saw the thin, ghostly Beatrice. The employee then alerted the others and they all saw her just standing there, watching over them in a disconcerting manner. For a brief moment, she vanished, but then reappeared, and continued to leer at them in the most ominous way imaginable. Linda said a few members of the staff were skeptical of the hauntings in past, but after that night they could no longer deny the truth.
The Cadillac Bar & Restaurant is perhaps one of the most haunted places in San Antonio.
The Friday night security guard, Lorenzo Banda Junior (with a name like that, he had no choice, but to become a bouncer), claims to feel some sort of ghostly presence whenever he's on the second floor (perhaps the man in the sombrero or the phantom soldier), Lorenzo says that he knows that he is alone, but at the same time he gets the chills trickling down his spine and the feeling that he isn't really alone after all.
The spirits of the Cadillac Bar seem determined to stay, and, according to employees, most patrons are happy to party with the lively ghosts.
The infamous Cadillac Bar, located in the heart of downtown, in its landmark building on 212 S. Flores Street, is truly a must stop in San Antonio. It's a place built on mystique, and seems to have been around forever. In addition to the Cadillac's ghosts, the bar is famous for their Mexican cuisine and icy margaritas. But, be weary of Beatrice, as she just might come along and knock your margarita right outta your hand.
To learn more information about the Cadillac's offerings and hours, please visit their website here.