Although Johnson City, Fredericksburg, and the surrounding countryside are now booming with wineries, breweries, and natural attractions, it was a different story when SML was first built in the 1960s. So why build a motel in Stonewall — a town with a then-population of just 150 people? Turns out there’s more to this story…
The year was 1964.
Beatlemania was in full swing. My Fair Lady was sweeping the box office. And Lyndon B. Johnson had recently stepped in as the 37th president of the United States after the shocking assassination of President Kennedy.
This sudden tragedy resulted in the transformation of a sleepy town in the Texas Hill Country into a menagerie of reporters, photographers, Secret Service, celebrities, and politicians eager to be near the First Family when they visited the LBJ Ranch -- also known as the “Texas White House”.
For the residents of Stonewall, the new hustle and bustle brought new business opportunities. Tillie and Kermitt Hahne, old family friends of the new president and his wife, saw a need for accommodations for the regular visitors.
So they opened the Stonewall Motel. Twelve rooms -- including one reserved for the Associated Press complete with a darkroom for developing photographs -- allowed the guests to be on hand when news broke.
Reporters were even known to have breakfast in their cars in the motel parking lot on Sunday mornings, waiting for the President’s motorcade to head to church.
But there were difficulties. Coming from Washington, D.C., some of the visitors didn’t appreciate the small-town charm of a place with so few amenities and so little to do.
So the Hahnes threw legendary barbecues for the crowds, determined to “...make them learn to love Stonewall,” as Kermitt Hahne said once. And they did. At one barbecue, Kermitt served 13 different kinds of meat, while Tillie hand-cranked ice cream with fresh peaches from their orchard.
Walter Cronkite, Jimmy Carter, Carol Channing, Gregory Peck, Anthony Perkins, Douglas MacArthur, Senator Ted Kennedy, Buzz Aldrin — all experienced the legendary Texas hospitality of both the Hahnes and the Johnsons.
But as the 60s came to a close and President Johnson’s second term wound down, Stonewall and the surrounding area grew quiet again. President Richard Nixon was sworn into office, and the hordes moved on.
Now, 50 years later, the area is booming once again. Wineries, distilleries, and breweries dot the landscape between Johnson City and historic Fredericksburg. Natural beauties like Enchanted Rock and Pedernales Falls State Park attract vacationing families. And in the middle of it all is the newly renovated Stonewall Motor Lodge.
Purchased by 10 family friends in 2018, the updated and re-branded motel has been transformed into a modern oasis, while still keeping true to its mid-century roots. We hope to preserve the Hahnes legacy by providing a base from which you, too, can learn to love Stonewall, and everything this beautiful part of Texas has to offer.
While You’re Here
There is so much to do in this part of Texas, and the Stonewall Motor Lodge is in the thick of it all. We’re surrounded by wineries, breweries, and distilleries, and all the beauty of the Texas Hill Country. Here’s a handy list of a few things to do during your stay, but there’s so much more!