Last Days of the San José
Liz Lambert left her job as a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's office in 1994 and returned to her native Texas to work in the Attorney General's office in Austin. She used to hang out at the Continental Club on South Congress Avenue with her friend (club owner) Steve Wertheimer and fantasize about the rundown old 1930's hotel across the street. In those days, South Congress was a bad part of town and the hotel was a haven of drugs, crime and cyclical poverty. In a stroke of luck or destiny, Liz approached the owners on a whim to find out they had just put the property up for sale. She bought the hotel thinking she'd renovate it one room at a time, but reality set in and she ended up running the hotel in its existing state as a low rent residential hotel for several years while she worked on funding to renovate. In the course of chronicling her experiences with the residents of the hotel on video camera, she ended up making a documentary called Last Days of the San Jose that casts an interesting light on human relationships in gentrification and urban renewal.
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"We had a great stay at Hotel San Jose; the architecture, furniture and plant life made a perfect environment for shooting our clothing and capturing our lifestyle,” Sargent says. “There was agave, cactus, bamboo and ivy nestled alongside modern cement architecture, wood benches and leather chairs.”
"This urban bungalow—think concrete floors and minimal furnishings—is, unequivocally, a scene."
"Book yourself a room at the effortlessly cool Hotel San Jose (1316 South Congress Ave.), where you can hang out by the pool, or burnish your hipster cred by borrowing one of the typewriters or Polaroids they keep on hand for guests."
"This minimalist hotel, originally built as a 1930s motor court, now brings a sense of simplicity and calm to its guests. The Hotel San José has a private garden courtyard with a lounge and pool. Yes, you can find your way to the Hotel San José—it’s in the popular South Congress district."
"At Austin’s Hotel San Jose (yes, it rhymes with frosé), Bar Manager Breezy Mayo uses a frozen drink machine to crank these out for thirsty travelers. She adapted the recipe here to make at home in a blender with lemonade-flavored ice cubes, ideal for poolside get-togethers with friends."
"The 40 rooms have since morphed into tranquil digs with a Texas-meets-Tokyo design aesthetic (picture concrete floors and custom kimonos alongside vintage music posters and leather chairs). Accommodations range from modest shared-bath rooms to suites overlooking the hotel’s pool and ivy-covered courtyard (a favorite meeting place for locals)."