The Drury Inn & Suites-River Walk hotel is located on San Antonio’s historic Paseo Del Rio (River Walk) and is housed within the Petroleum Commerce Building, which was originally known as the City Public Service Building, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The building at 201 North St. Mary’s Street was completed in 1921 for the offices of the San Antonio Public Service Company, which was formed in July, 1917, through a merger of the San Antonio Traction Company and the San Antonio Gas and Electric Company.
The City Public Service Building was designed by the firm of Atlee B. Ayres (1874-1969), who was later joined in practice by his son Robert M. Ayres (1898-1977). Ayres and Ayres designed many important buildings in San Antonio, including the Municipal Auditorium and the Smith-Young Tower. The Public Service building was sited on a bend in the San Antonio river, just east of Main Plaza or Plaza de las Islas, the heart of the city founded in 1718 by Spanish settlers. The building is located immediately east of the Main Plaza/Military Plaza Historic District. The property was the site of the Twohig House, built in the 19th century by one of San Antonio’s prominent and colorful settlers, John Twohig.
The original structure had a river-level basement and three floors. In 1927, Ayres and Ayres added three floors that exactly matched the original décor and seamlessly integrated façade. When the city utilities moved to larger quarters, the structure became the Petroleum Commerce Building, and a garage was added.
The street (east) and river (south) elevations of the building are both treated architecturally as principal elevations. Interestingly, this was the first major office building in downtown San Antonio that devoted an architecturally-treated façade to the river. River façades were typically treated as side or back elevations. At the street and river façades, the ground and second floors are cast stone, the upper floors primarily brick. On the river façade the cast stone extends down to the basement level.
The building had been empty a number of years before Drury Southwest Corporation began construction in early 1998. Drury implemented a design that includes a restored façade to reflect the original appearance created in the 1920’s. Through careful renovation, the lobby and front desk areas utilize many features of the original building to reflect period architecture, including the high ceilings and ornamental plaster moldings. The second story breakfast room and lobby overlook the River Walk; retail shops and restaurants are located on the river level of the building. Historic elegance is built into every feature of the Drury Inn & Suites-River Walk, blending the memories of the past with the present.