The History of the Ant Street Inn

  • inn-front-Tex-historical-marker

Swiss immigrant Josef Schmid began a mercantile business in Brenham in 1880. He was joined by his brothers Benedict and Sigmund to form Schmid Bros. in 1889, and in 1898-1899 they erected this building to house their business enterprises. Built in the Renaissance Revival style, it features multi-bay configurations on both floors and round-arched windows with hood moldings. Sold by Schmid Bros. in 1934, it has remained a vital part of Brenham's business district.

  • Old Brenham Map

The building was the home to more than a few different businesses through the years. Opening for business in 1899 with a mercantile, butcher, feed store and carriage house on the ground floor, and other business offices on the second floor, the building originally known as "Schmid Bros." began its colorful history.  The Savital Grocery Store, occupying the space that is now the Ballroom, was the very first place Blue Bell ice cream was hand dipped and sold.  But if walls could talk, it's those on the second floor at the west end of the building you'd want to listen to, as it was here that the wrestling ring was set up when the dance hall wasn't busy, or the high-stakes poker games were not underway.

But, the decline of the old Schmid Bros. Building reflected the decline of the area for a period of time, and by the late 1970s, most businesses had moved away from downtown, opting instead for locations further away from the city center.  A revitalization of the area began in the 1980s, and brighter days were in sight for the old building when it was purchased in 1991 by Tommy Traylor.

With a vision of the beauty past, and a passion for restoring buildings to their past glory, Mr. Traylor and his wife Pam set out to create an inn... a breathtaking sanctuary of style and grace never before seen between Houston and Austin.

It took Tommy and Pam three years to rehabilitate the building, and another three years to collect the antiques to furnish and decorate the rooms.  The perfect couple to assemble such an inn, Pam, with her style and design, brought the colors, fabrics, textures and shapes to the structure that Tommy had re-created.

The Ant Street Inn opened to great critical acclaim in the autumn of 1995.  After operating the inn for over 16 incredible years, Tommy and Pam were ready to enjoy a very active retirement, and Suzy and Keith Hankins purchased the inn in December of 2011.

We believe our greatest challenge as innkeepers is to continue the legacy Tommy and Pam assembled, providing to our guests a comfort unsurpassed in a style and manner that reflects the grace of our community.

Why is it called the Ant Street Inn?

An intriguing question...

Years ago, I can't tell you exactly when, many of the streets in and around downtown Brenham held different names!  What is now Commerce Street, the street on which the Ant Street Inn can be found, was called Quitman.  The street just to the east of the building which is now called Park Street was called North Street.

Ant Street was what is now Baylor, one block to the east of the Ant Street Inn.  The story I've been told is that all the laborers lived south of the railroad tracks (the tracks that run just south of the inn).  When the employers in town blew their whistles and rang their bells to call the people to work, everyone walked out of their homes and up one street to get to their jobs.  It was said to look like a bunch of ants coming down the street, so they named it Ant Street.

When the southern section of downtown Brenham was just beginning to be revitalized in the 1980s, the area was named the Ant Street Historic District.  When Tommy and Pam Traylor were deciding upon a name for their new inn, they came upon the name the Ant Street Inn to coincide with the name of the area.  And sitting first in the phone book didn't hurt either!