For our fifth tour in this six-part series, we spend the night in one of the few surviving Spanish Colonial Mission & Presidio Complexes in North America. Good news: you can spend the night there, too.
Cozy Up, Texas: The Quarters at Presidio La Bahia
Article by Vincent Friedewald; Photos by Caleb Kerr
>It’s not a place you’d ordinarily expect to be able to stay alone, overnight: historic sites, like museums, are usually look-but-don’t-touch environments. But that’s not the case in Goliad, Texas, where the historic Presidio La Bahia—a Spanish Colonial Mission & Presidio most famous for its role during the Texas Revolution—welcomes overnight guests to experience history first-hand, by lamplight, in their pajamas, in its undeniably cozy Quarters.
Notes from our visit are immediately below, followed by the photo tour.
Name: The Quarters at Presidio La Bahia
Location: Goliad, Texas
Overview: Small apartment within one of the few surviving Spanish Colonial Mission/Presidio complexes in North America. The Quarters, as they’re called, were most recently used as the residence for diocesan priests, and in a previous era were part of the quarters housing the Presidio’s officers. The Quarters are spacious and comfortable, with two bedrooms (a master, plus a second bedroom with twin beds), a living and dining area with fireplace, a kitchen, bathroom with shower, and central heat and air conditioning. With the exception of visitors from the spirit world, you’ll have the place all to yourself.
Appreciate: What this place was, and what it still is. The Goliad site of Presidio La Bahia dates back to 1747, when it was first built as a Spanish mission and fortress. Later it became one of the two major garrisons in Mexican Texas, together with the Alamo. During the Texas Revolution, it was the site of the Goliad Massacre: Colonel James Fannin and his retreating Texian troops (numbering 300+ men) were intercepted by the Mexican army, escorted back to the Presidio, and executed. Today, Presidio La Bahia is operated by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria, Texas, and the onsite Our Lady of Loreto Chapel continues to offer Mass every Sunday evening to the community.
Know: When you rent the Quarters for the evening, you get after-hours access to the entirety of the Presidio’s inner courtyard, via the backdoor. It’s an uncommon opportunity to have a historic Spanish Colonial Mission all to yourself, so take advantage of it. We recommend you bring a couple folding chairs, then sit in the courtyard at sunset contemplating the centuries-long history that surrounds you. We recommend a similar sojourn in the morning, coffee in hand to greet the Texas sun rising above the fortress walls.
Notably Cozy: The Master Bedroom. The entirety of the Quarters is cozy, of course, but it’s within the bedroom that you’ll most feel the safety of the thick stone walls, the reality that you’re within the boundaries of an actual fort. You’ll find extra blankets in the armoire, and a prayer candle on the window sill. If you’re feeling solemn, extinguish the electric lamps, fire up the candle, wrap up in a blanket, and look for ghosts among the flickering shadows.
Nearby: Just outside the Quarters, the Presidio grounds include the Chapel, together with a museum and gift shop. Further afield, in Goliad, the Courthouse Square Historic District is charming and every bit worth its designation on the National Registry of Historic Places. Browse among the shops, have a bite to eat at The Empresario Restaurant (open for lunch, 11-2), and see the nine flags that have flown over Goliad inside the stately Goliad Courthouse. For your nature fix, drop your kayak in the San Antonio River and navigate the serene Goliad Paddling Trail, which terminates at Goliad State Park and Historic Site.
Special Comments: Public visitors to Presidio La Bahia may not see (or, may ignore) the small sign on the front door to your quarters that says, “Private”. Don’t be alarmed if you hear the front door being jiggled a little during daylight hours; it’s probably just curious tourists. And if not, it’s probably just mischievous spirits.
Rates: $212.50 per night, tax included.
Welcome to Presidio La Bahia. In the foreground is the exterior wall of the presidio, with the entrance to the quarters through the wooden door, and the chapel within the protection of the walls in the background.
Upon entry, you'll find yourself in a guest room with two small beds.
Walk through the front door and immediately turn right to enter the main living area.
The living room is long and narrow, with a round table on one end, and a fireplace at the other. A couch is positioned near the fire, offering a cozy place to relax while basking in the flickering glow of a fire.
There are two windows to the exterior in this room. One faces north (just left of the fireplace), and the other faces west. As you can see in these photos, near sunset the room is illuminated with a warm glow from the setting sun.
Have a seat on the couch, put your feet up, and take the time to read through the guest log book. There are hundreds of pages of guest experiences, ranging from the cozy and relaxed to the supernatural. It is certainly among the most interesting guest books you'll ever read.
Proceeding through the living area to the opposite end leads into a small but very functional kitchen. To the left is the bathroom; to the right is the master bedroom.
The master bedroom is spacious, with west (pictured below) and south-facing windows. The lath and plaster ceilings with their solid wood beams, brick floors, and stone walls, makes it feel like you're in a fort. Which is fitting, because that's exactly what a Presidio is—a fort built to protect nearby missions from attack.
A large wardrobe is stocked with extra bedding, and a space to put your clothes if you so choose.
While the bathroom has no exterior windows, it does have a skylight that provides ample light during daylight hours.
The Quarters' front door is on the exterior of the walled-in fort, but its back door opens up to the courtyard inside, where you'll also find the beautiful Our Lady of Loreto Chapel.
Because Presidio La Bahia was built as a fort, it has raised corner turrets, each outfitted with a cannon.
The Quarters at night feel safe and secure, albeit a touch eery if you're alone. Overnight guests have full access to the interior of the entire fort 24 hours a day. If you're up for a quiet moonlit stroll around the inside, you're free to do so.
Upon rising in the morning, consider a sunrise walk around the courtyard, coffee in hand.
Outside, the Goliad Flag proudly flies.
The main visitor entrance to Presidio La Bahia. Inside this portion of the site is a small museum with artifacts and educated staffers to answer any questions you may have about the site's history.
The Texas Historical Commission just made a 360 degree video about Goliad and the Presidio. They have a link to the video here: http://www.thc.texas.gov/trailer
Apr 28, 2017
What’s in the Guest Book? Please I’m dying to know
Mar 27, 2017
Our family stayed here for one night last summer. It was by far the most memorable place we’ve ever slept. It was so much fun for the kids to run around the inside of the fort at night. We just let them roam free, as we were all locked inside. But I do suggest you don’t read the guest book right before you go to sleep!
Jun 03, 2015
The Chapel at the Presidio has a special place in my heart
Dec 06, 2014
Kenneth H. Fohn:
Absolutely amazing that one can spend the night at LA Bahia. I live in Geronimo, Texas and visit my son and his family in Goliad as often as I can. Plan to attend Mass at the LA BAHIA CHAPEL and when I can, stay the night at the Mission. GOD BLESS TEXAS!!!
Nov 23, 2014
John P. McCartney:
Reliving this history is what I most enjoyed about my years in Texas and what I most miss. Forget Austin, Dallas and Houston. The magic of Texas lies in the secrets of its small towns and open spaces.
Oct 08, 2014
Enjoyed this little jaunt into Texas history, myself. Wish I had taken more time to peruse the Guest Book … Next time! Enjoyed the article and pics. Well written and informative. Check out the Presidio’s website for info on events and schedule a stay to coincide. Well worth the trip!!
Oct 08, 2014
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