Travelers throughout history have fallen in love with Boerne following an overnight stay at the historic stagecoach stop-turned-hotel now known as The Kendall, and I am no exception.
After turning an old metal key in the lock of a wooden chapel known as the Heavenly Suite, I smile as sunlight splashes the white walls of the spacious interior. The creaky, white-washed former Lutheran church was once St. John’s Chapel in Jourdontown and was moved to this site in the 1990s. This is where my family will spend the weekend. Inside, we marvel at the humongous tiled shower and separate claw-foot tub, the spacious living and dining area with a foldout couch for the kids, and the plush king-size bed where my husband and I will sleep peacefully underneath chapel-shaped windows.
“The first time I walked through, it was almost like the building was asking for someone to help release its true colors,” says Joe Granados, operating partner of B&G Partners LLC, the ownership group of The Kendall that purchased and renovated what was formerly called Ye Kendall Inn in 2020. “We were very passionate about turning The Kendall back into a hub of community activity, of being that shining diamond.”
The Kendall was the first major institution in Boerne, driving commerce, attracting tourism, and serving as a stagecoach stop in the late 1800s. The lodging has expanded throughout the years under various owners, many of them adding new outbuildings to accommodate additional travelers. Those buildings include the chapel and historic log cabins uprooted and transplanted to the property.
The hotel’s eclectic 34 rooms include suites in the original main stone building, free-standing suites, and connected log-cabin style cottages, with a small pool and popular event spaces for weddings. The main building and carriage house both date to 1859—a mere 14 years after Texas became a state)—when the original owners Erastus and Sarah Reed of Georgia purchased the land for $200. They intended to build a grand two-story Southern-style estate near Cibolo Creek, eventually rolling out the welcome mat for travelers to discover Boerne.
Throughout the years, The Kendall has both witnessed and played its own small role in Texas history. It has collected tales of visits from cattle drovers; frontier celebrities; President Dwight Eisenhower, who allegedly stayed here when he was an officer stationed at Fort Sam Houston; and George Wilkins Kendall, a journalist considered to be the U.S.’s first war correspondent and the father of Texas’ sheep industry, for whom Kendall County—and this hotel—is named. Tunnels under the hotel, long since sealed up, have sparked talk among local old-timers about what purpose they might have served during Prohibition.
“Boerne, as a health resort, is unequaled in this State or country, especially for pulmonary and kindred complaints,” read an 1883 advertisement for the Boerne Hotel, as it was then called, in the San Antonio Light. The advertisement went on to praise the hotel’s “large and spacious rooms with southerly exposure, well furnished and well ventilated.”
On a steamy June weekend, we are thankful for modern-day air conditioning. We head out and explore Boerne’s Market Days just across the street in Main Plaza Park, where vendors are selling plants, woodwork, aguas frescas, and crepes.
A slightly longer stroll takes us along the Hill Country Mile, where we find more craft breweries than we expected in a small town, an authentic tapas restaurant called Botero serving lavender sangria, and cute boutiques where I could probably spend a hazardous day alone with my credit cards. The next day, we visit the Old Jail Museum and take a hike along the trails at Cibolo Nature Center, which conjured thoughts of the writers who rhapsodized about listening to churrs of cicadas near The Kendall.
“The modern visitor can close his eyes and hear the laughter and gaiety of another era as society dined and rested,” Gayle Hayes wrote in a Jan. 7, 1973, article in the San Antonio Light. “In soliloquy you can hear the jingling of the traces of the stagecoach, which stopped daily around 1885 and the bellowing of the workers as the stage changed horses for the push further into the west.”
Travelers would seek out chicken dinners at the inn throughout history, and the adjacent Peggy’s on the Green, helmed by Chef Mark Bohanan, pays homage to that Southern influence. The menu features favorites like fried green tomatoes and buttermilk biscuits. Among our top picks were an incredible French onion soup and Marie’s Country Olive Salad with warm, buttery olives.
“We really have an appreciation and an understanding that this is a special place not just in history, but in its impact on history and its impact on the Hill Country,” Granados says. “There would be no Boerne if this hotel did not exist.”