A Truly Unique Venue
Built in 1867 on the historic site of the 1842 Battle of Salado, Victoria's Black Swan Inn has been a home to some of the most prestigious people in San Antonio's history. It's an elegant two story Greek Revival style home and sits on a grassy knoll overlooking the meandering Salado Creek in San Antonio.
Steeped in tradition and lore, Victoria's Black Swan Inn is the most hauntingly romantic location for your wedding or social gathering. Learn more about Victoria's Black Swan Inn's History & Hauntings with a tour. Photos of the property can be found on our gallery page.
History & Hauntings
From before 5000 B.C. to around 1000 A.D the area was the site of Native American encampments. Artifacts from this time can still be found here. Archeologists have provided evidence showing that Native Americans once lived in the area where the house currently sits. There have also been signs of a sweat lodge where Native Americans performed rituals. An ancient Indian burial ground is thought to be under the house. There have been stories of boys fishing in Salado Creek being chased away by what appears to be Indian ghosts. Some people have said they smell smoke and hear a light drum sound
On September 18, 1842 The Texas Rifle, under the leadership of Capt. John Hays and Col. Mathew Caldwell entered into battle with the Mexican Army led by French Mercenary Adrian Woll. More than 80 Mexican soldiers lost their lives during the bloody Battle of Salado and according to historic information at least 60 of their bodies were left to rot where they fell. Only one Texan, Steven Jett, lost his life during the battle and his remains were returned to his family.
There is one report of someone actually witnessing a skirmish between Mexican and Texan soldiers that resembled some sort of reenactment. There have been sightings of a ghostly confederate soldier near the gazebo in front of Victoria's Black Swan Inn. The sound of a military bugle is heard on occasion. In 1936, the property was designated as a Battle of Salado historic site by the State of Texas during the 1936 Centennial Celebration.
The Prescott House was built on the property after the civil war.
Sebastian L Rippstein (2/4/1824 - 7/14/1896), born in Switzerland, and his wife, Hemrieke "Betsy" Ackermann Rippstien (6/1/1834 - 9/15/1911), born in Germany, settled the land in 1867. The San Antonio Conservation Society shows that they built a stone house barn and milking barn on the property. Their children were Gustav Juilan (1851-1920), Henriettta Rippstein Seay (1854-1932), Bertha "Betty" Dorthea Rippstein Schaefer (1858-1920), Ida Rippstein Benfer (1870-1951), and Albert Rippstein (1874-1941).
According to psychics and EVP Audio, Gustov is believed to be one of the three spirits that haunts the dairy barn. His ghost is figure that appears to have a head, arms and what looks like to be wearing a tank top, looks at people through a window on the thermal imaging camera. He also makes loud noises. The barn that still stands to this day is the location where Henry ran his prized dairy. Many believe he haunts the barn as well because he loved it so much. There is supposedly another burly German man who haunts the barn although no one is quite sure who he is but he is thought to be Sebastian Rippstein. All three of the spirits in the barn may be somewhat aggressive towards women and do not seem to care for men. EVP's have been captured of a deep voice telling people to "GET OUT!". In the front yard and house there seems to be a spirit of a child, a little girl who many believe is Sara Mahler, Henry's daughter. She likes to play and jump on mattresses. Sebastian also haunts inside the house.
German immigrants, Heinrich "Henry" Mahler (9/2/1840 - 4/18/1925) and Marie Biermann Mahler (7/15/1850 - 7/25/1923), bought the property on January 10, 1887. They built their first house on the property in 1887 (Bexar County Appraisal District shows 1902 and San Antonio Conservation Society shows 1901 for the year built). Their children were Samuel George Mahler (1/21/1876 - 4/21/1937), Louisa Catherine Mahler Prange (11/1/1879 - 1/10/1918), Sara "Suzie" Mahler Schlegel (2/27/1882 - 3/23/1958), Daniel Henry Mahler (11/11/1884 - 5/27/1950)
Emma Elizabet Mahler. They also built a milking barn and named the farm Bluebonnet Dairy. Henry and Sam were known as the Cotton Kings. The Mahlers ran the dairy farm here until the mid-1930s.
After Mahler’s wife passed away, he followed suit two years later from lovesick grief. Heinrich also haunts the Milking Barn and roams the property, including inside the main house. His daughter, Sara "Sophie" pulls pranks in a building located behind the Black Swan.
Carl Mahler from Germany had a daughter named Sophia Louise Mahler Meyers, a spinster who lived in the house until she was 82, but it is believed that she haunts the house as an 8-year-old girl singing and laughing and known for playing tricks on people.
Henry and Sam Mahler were known as the Cotton Kings. They lived on the property with 200 acres after Marie died.
Henry and Marie's son, Dan, and his wife, Mary Mahler, lived on the property with 237 acres. They sold the house and surrounding land to two sisters and their husbands in 1941.
Katherine S. Joline Holbrook (9/17/1883 - 1/27/1950) and Joseph "John" Younger Holbrook (4/6/1879 - 9/3/1960), along with Mary Blanche Joline Woods (7/8/1887 - 1/17/1976) and Claude B. Woods (10/31/1882 - 1/17/1935) purchased the property. The sisters called the house White Gables. They conducted extensive remodeling, adding two wings to enlarge the mansion to accommodate the two families. The house was then called "White Gables". After purchasing more land a second house was built in 1901 but it later burnt down.
Psychics have also identified the elderly Mrs. Woods, Joline's mother, ensconced in a small bedroom in the south wing. There, the spirit of a young woman if often spotted, seated on the bed. Those lucky enough to catch sight of this female ghost often liken her to a young Mrs. Woods. She spent several years confined here before she had to be placed in a nursing home. Although her final resting place was actually in one of the downstairs bedrooms. It’s in that room that many experience an overwhelmingly oppressive heaviness and a feeling of sadness.
Attorney Hall Park Street, Jr. (11/10/1909 - 8/4/1965) and Joline Woods Street (12/15/1912 - 12/22/1959). They inherited the house in 1952 from Joline's mother, Claude Woods. After the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Holbrook and Mr. Woods, Mrs. Woods lived in the house with her son-in-law, Park, and her daughter, Joline. During this time a second story was added to the main house. While Park and Joline owned the property Earle Stanley Gardner visited the house and wrote some of his famed Perry Mason television series scripts here. Joline died of breast cancer in 1959. Park, Jr. was later found dead in 1965 hung by a neck tie with his hands tied behind his back...the death was ruled a suicide. They were survived by their daughter, Joline "Jingles", who was only 19 at the time and their son, Hall Park Street III. (no vital records found).
Park Street supposedly committed suicide by hanging himself in the house, though this has been a highly controversial subject. A psychic consultant with Syfy's television program Sightings communicated with former resident, Hall Park Street, whom he believed was murdered in a south wing closet, then moved to another location, where the murderer made the death look like a suicide. They believe Street was killed because of a treasure he still guards in the south wing. Others believe that Heinrich ghost drove Park to commit suicide. The most unnerving spectral presence at the property is that of a man who has been spotted stalking angrily all over the house. Rumor has it that he is the ghost of Hall Park Street. Is he perhaps looking for his beloved wife Joline, whose spirit is also said to haunt the Inn after tragedy struck her at the tender age of thirty-eight when she died of cancer. Dressed in a luxurious white gown with a beaded jeweled medallion in from of headband with a feather at the back over her dark hair, this is a very beautiful female spirit roams the property aimlessly, especially around the gazebo, but Park and Joline never seem to meet.
George L Mehren (1913- 1992) and Ingeborg Mehren bought the house on 9/7/1973 from Hall Street Park III, Joline S. and her husband, James Patrick Robinson. She renamed it "Mehren House". The house was remodeled, including a large kitchen area, to hold larger dinners, conferences and receptions. Ingeborg had a distinguished guest, Franz Wilhem the Prince of Prussia, who stayed at the house during an extended stay in San Antonio. Ingeborg later planned to use the property for the Mehren House subdivision as a Salado Investment.
In 1980 the Mehren's sold the property to E. Werner Schmidt. Ernst Werner Schmidt sold the property to Sunbelt Self Storage, Inc. in 1987.
Sunbelt Self Storage, Inc. sold the property to current owner, Jo Ann Marks Andrews, now Jo Ann Marks Rivera, on 11/18/1991. She named the house "Victoria's Black Swan Inn", after one of William Shakespeare's favorite pubs. The house is Jo Ann and her family's private residence. Jo Ann's mother, Fay Nell Marks (9/10/1924 - 10/4/2012), spent a lot of time at the house and passed away in her bedroom after an illness.
The home has had several paranormal investigators visit it over the years. In December 1996, the television show "Sightings" filmed a segment at Victoria's Black Swan Inn. The house was also featured in the Travel Channel's TV series "Ghost Adventures" in 2013. During this time some of Texas' most famous musicians, such as George Strait, Jerry Jeff Walker and Flaco Jimenez have performed and filmed here. Numerous artisans, film makers, and photographers have also filmed and worked on the property.
While setting up for an event in 2015, there were several strange, unexplained occurrences. One person was bitten and bruised on the inner thigh by an unseen toddler through a long heavy dress. Another person was pinched by a little girl and boy ghosts. Objects were randomly relocated throughout the woods when no one was around. Other things occurred that are too bizarre to even mention.
It has also hosted writers such as Erle Stanley Gardner and some of Texas' most famous musicians and artisans.
It continues to be a venue for weddings, the Black Swan Artisan Market, paranormal investigations, historic tours and several other types of social events throughout the year including the annual Masquerade Ball held in honor of Jo Ann's mother each fall.
Jo Ann Rivera
After only a few nights in the house in April 1991, Jo Ann was awakened at exactly 3 a.m. for about 10 nights straight. Her bedroom door would unlock, the hall light would turn on, and a man dressed in a white shirt and dark slacks would stand at the foot of her bed, hands on hips, and stare at her before disappearing. Jo Ann changed the positioning of her bed and the troubling visits stopped. Jo Ann’s daughter, Meredith, has witnessed a frightening sight on rainy nights. She has awakened to find an old, wrinkled, “evil-looking” man staring through her second-story bedroom window, which is inaccessible to humans.
During the filming of Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures, Jo Ann was able to speak with her mother.
Battle of Salado
On September 18, 1842 General Adrian Woll, Sam Houston and his men massacred more than 60 Mexican soldiers in that battle, but only one Texan lost his life, Steven Jett, during the Battle of Salado. The property was designated as a State of Texas historic site in 1936.
It has also hosted writers such as Erle Stanley Gardner and some of Texas' most famous musicians and artisans. The inn has celebrated with families for generations.
Historical Marker Reads
THE BATTLE OF THE SALADO
Decisive in Texas History, was fought here, September 18, 1842. Col. Mathew Caldwell and Capt. John C. Hays, commanding a force of Texas volunteers, opposed the Mexican army under General Adrian Woll that had captured San Antonio, and, with the loss of only one man, checked the last Mexican invasion of Texas and thereby prevented the capture of Austin, capital of the Republic of Texas.