The Alamo National Bank Building is 24 stories tall, though initially, the bank only occupied the first floor. Unfortunately, the steel and concrete construction process finished in 1929—a few months before the legendary stock market crash that kicked off the Great Depression.
In 1994, Walt Disney Productions filmed the childhood classic and box-office flop, "Blank Check," in the bank lobby. If you watched the film as a youth, you'll feel its familiarity as you walk through the beautiful lobby.
In 2005, the bank was transformed into a Drury Hotel. The lobby was fully restored, and while the roof's neon tower received a partial restoration, it no longer forecasts the weather. Guests who stay at the hotel can view several restored portions of the former bank, most notably the bank vault. The hotel is also located on the San Antonio River Walk, and access to the walk is as simple as going down to the basement and out the door. When you walk into the now-hotel, you can easily see why the site was selected for filming. The entry-way alone is immense with stunning pillars, gorgeous stained glass, and many other features that gives the location a rich, elegant atmosphere that feels fit for a media mogul.
One unique feature of the original building is the National Bank sign at the top of the building, which used flashing lights to indicate weather changes. Staff members and matchboxes distributed to the public stated what the various flashes meant. The direction of the lights indicated whether the weather was heating up or cooling down, whereas flashing lights warned of incoming rain and snow. Employees would set the lights before they left, so whatever the weather report said at 5 p.m. is what the sign would reflect through the night.
If you don’t plan to stay at the hotel, you can go inside and drink in the beauty of the ornate lobby. The impressive 50-foot ceilings, travertine flooring, and stained-glass windows still depict its former banking glory. Or if you’re looking for a meal in a beautiful setting while you tour San Antonio’s intriguing film locations, you can visit the hotel's restaurant or lounge for a bite to eat. The 5:30 Kickback offers casual dining choices based on a day-of-the-week rotation, with offerings such as Caesar salad, make your own beef tacos, potato and bacon soup, or make your own BBQ pork pulled sliders. At the Teller's Bar, you'll find simple snacks like Bavarian pretzels and loaded tater tots, along with burgers, pizzas, desserts, and, of course, the house selection of cocktails, wine, and drafts.
Cover image by Brad Holt is licensed under CC by 2.0.