Tumbleweed Smith
Tumbleweed Smith

In 1913 W.C. Dofflemyer, constructed a building in downtown San Saba made of blue limestone, a material found in the southern part of the county.

The first floor of the two-story structure was used as the San Saba National Bank.
The second floor served as a gentlemen’s club, a place where the city’s social gatherings such as galas and dances took place.

Now the upstairs serves as a boutique six-room hotel. The bottom floor is a deli and pecan store. The deli serves breakfast and lunch.

Clay Nettleship, an oil and gas attorney who is the fifth generation of his family to live in San Saba, bought four buildings on a downtown city block.

One of them was the Dofflemyer Building. He converted it into a hotel four years ago.

“Back in the 70’s the upstairs had been made into a four-bedroom apartment and was a mess when I bought the building,” says Clay. “We’ve had great acceptance and stay full most of the time. I really wish I had 10 or 20 more rooms. We’re real proud of it. I think it’s a great addition to our city.

We have tried to retain the historical architectural integrity of the building while adding modern conveniences. The rooms have sort of an industrial feel to them. The ambiance is a blend of past and present, historic and contemporary. Each room is uniquely decorated.”

A steakhouse is planned a block from the hotel called the Pecan House Grill. Fourteen years ago Clay and a group of local businessmen formed a foundation to renovate, rejuvenate and beautify downtown.

“People began leaving and moving to other parts of town to open their businesses so a good portion of the downtown area needed a face-lift and was practically empty. We began raising money to do historic renovations to public buildings, those that are not in private hands. So we have done complete renovations of 3 different buildings: a visitors center, garden club meeting facility and the building that houses the ambulance.”

The major fundraiser for the foundation is an event called the Catkins Ball.

“Catkins are pecan blooms that appear in the spring. Since San Saba is known as the Pecan Capital of the World, we have lot of pecan trees around here. We also have several stores that sell all kinds of pecan goodies. At the ball, sixty percent of the guests are from out of town. We have anywhere from 600 to 650 people attending. One year it’s formal, one year it’s casual. It lasts from 6 PM to 1 AM and we have a dinner dance, casino and auctions. We usually have it in the spring every year.”

On the same block as the buildings that Clay bought is the Wedding Oak Winery. He’s a partner in that enterprise, which has been named one of the top five wineries in the state and now has tasting rooms in Burnet and Fredericksburg. Another winery with the strange name of Old Man Scary is next to the Wedding Oak. Hotel guests enjoy the opportunity to sample local wines just a few yards from their hotel.