A Guide to the San Antonio and Casino Clubs Records, 1856-1941, 1978
The Casino Association, San Antonio's first social club, was formed in 1854 and incorporated in 1857. It was formed to promote cultural and literary activities in the city. At the same time, the club was to provide a place of social communication between members. Casino Hall, built on Market Street in 1858, was the city's first theatre. Membership was initially limited to ethnic German men but commissioned U.S. military officers in San Antonio had a standing invitation to be guests at the club. Over time, the membership of the club broadened but the Casino Association was where the elite of San Antonio's German community gathered. Prominent members of the club included Conrad A. Goeth and Albert and Ernst Steves. Much of the club's early business and conversation was conducted in German.
The Casino Association held regular events and special functions in Casino Hall for members and their families. The San Antonio Light called the New Year's Eve Ball at Casino Hall the "most exclusive social function in San Antonio". The club hosted some distinguished guests and performers including Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and "Buffalo Bill" William Cody. Income was generated from the rental of the theatre to other groups. In addition to the theatre/ballroom, Casino Hall also offered members the use of a bowling alley, gaming tables and a bar.
Beginning in the 1890s, Conrad A. Goeth was an active member of the Casino Association and served as its President for many years. He was also active in hunting clubs, such as the San Antonio Shooting Company and the Blue Wing Club, and followed the activities of other predominantly German groups around San Antonio like the Sons of Herman. When the German naval ship S.M.S. Bremen was in port at Galveston in 1905, Goeth arranged for the officers to visit San Antonio. He was in regular communication with the Imperial German Consul in Galveston during the early 20th century. In 1916, Mr. Goeth served as President of the German-Texan Bazaar Association. This group organized an event to aid war victims in Europe. For his efforts, he received thanks from the German and Austro-Hungarian embassies in Washington. Some of these records in this series are in German while others are in English.
During Prohibition, the Casino Association's membership and income declined. In 1923, the Casino Association sold the original Casino Hall to the San Antonio Water Board and rented quarters at 110 Nueva Street. In 1925, the Casino Association was consolidated with the San Antonio Club, a literary society formed in 1882. Together the clubs formed the San Antonio and Casino Clubs, also known as the San Antonio-Casino Club. A six story building was constructed at Crockett and N. Presa streets to house the club.
Conrad A. Goeth remained active in the club after the consolidation, serving as Vice President and Chairman the Finance Committee. During much of this period, the club had serious financial difficulties. Despite the merger, the income and membership of the club continued to decline and many documents indicate this lack of income. In 1929, the club was assessed a penalty for late payment of taxes by the Internal Revenue Service. The City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Independent School District also sued for the club for not paying property taxes in 1932. In order to increase the income of the club, Goeth and others tried to recruit new members. In 1933, the club reorganized on a depression basis. This meant the club lowered its monthly dues and initiation fees were waived for members who had resigned from the club and wished to return.
The San Antonio-Casino Club was dissolved around 1950. The original Casino Hall was torn down in 1961 and the site used for a park. The building at Crockett and N. Presa was remodeled in 1978 to serve as apartments.
The collection spans the years 1856 through 1978 and contains correspondence, account books, mortgage notes, guest lists, and a subject index, which document the activities of the members and officers of the San Antonio and Casino Clubs. The materials are in German and English.
The largest portion of documents in the collection consists of correspondence and administrative materials, which include documents of incorporation and financial and legal records. The correspondence and the activities of long time Club President Conrad A. Goeth (also a San Antonio attorney and Judge) are well documented here. Information kept in ledgers includes guest lists, dues records, and club finance notes. Many U.S. and Confederate officers were listed as guests of the Casino Association.
Other materials include mortgage notes, sold to San Antonio and Casino Clubs members, and a newspaper article that provides some history and background of the club. There is also a subject index that provides information about individual documents within the collection and includes finance, membership, property, and reports. The subject index was created by a researcher.
Selected material in this collection has been digitized and is available in our digital collections.
This collection is housed at UTSA's Main Campus and must be accessed via the John Peace Library Special Collections reading room. To request access, please use the Collections Request Form.
Permission to publish material from the San Antonio and Casino Clubs Records must be obtained from University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections or the appropriate holder of copyright.
[Identification of item], San Antonio and Casino Clubs Records, MS 149, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.
Materials were donated by John Peace in 1974 and transferred to the Archives from the John Peace Collection, Special Collections, UTSA Library, in 2006. Evidence suggests that the San Antonio and Casino Clubs materials may have been added to with items from A. C. Goeth, which were donated to Special Collections in 1975.
Processed by Eric J. Hartman, 1999.
Detailed Description of the Collection