Hershel Burgess was known to occasionally sit under an oak tree in Bryan, sipping whiskey among friends. Today, the new Stella Hotel’s cozy bar that bears his name stands near that very spot.
Spencer Clements, principal of the ATLAS development at the Traditions Club, said Hershel’s was designed to be a reflection of the class of 1929 A&M graduate who once owned the land on which the hotel and many of the surrounding properties now stand.
Permeated by a distinctly rustic feel, Hershel’s is filled with antique decor, purposely mismatched furniture and a carefully detailed dark wood bar. Two walls of floor-to-ceiling windows, flanking opposite sides of the room, create an openness to the bar, and bring in natural light during the day.
Scattered among the decorations are black-and-white photos of Burgess, including portraits from his time as an Aggie football player and during his service in the military.
Burgess’ grandson, Jim Cashion, said he believes the man he knew would have been honored by the recognition.
“My grandfather was a high achiever, but he was a minimalist,” said Cashion, who bears the middle name of Hershel after his grandfather. “He’d rather sit under an oak tree and visit with his friends rather than be in a banquet hall. I think he would appreciate it very much.”
Burgess came to the area as a teenager, enrolling in the then-all-military Allen Academy with a track scholarship. He first met legendary A&M football coach Dana X. Bible while hitchhiking back to town from a state track meet in Austin — an encounter that Cashion said ultimately swayed Burgess to attend the college.
Burgess played running back during A&M’s undefeated 1927 season and was named an All-Southwest Conference fullback in 1928. He also found love in his time at A&M, marrying Ethyl Walton — daughter of A&M president Thomas Otto Walton — in October 1930.
His legacy extends beyond his accomplishments at Kyle Field. Cashion said his grandfather was an active member of the A&M community after graduation, starting what would eventually become the Lettermen’s Association’s Annual Burgess Banquet, which serves as A&M’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. He also helped to develop the budding real estate of College Station decades ago.
“He was a lover of Texas A&M and an Aggie of the Old Army school,” Cashion said. “Like the cliché goes, he bled maroon.”
Burgess’ family tree extended to include another famous Aggie: Red Cashion, now a retired NFL official and Texas Sports Hall of Fame member, married Burgess’ daughter Lou in 1952. The two met and fell in love on campus while Hershel Burgess was serving in the Army during World War II. They eventually had four children, Jim Cashion and his sisters Sharon Cashion, Joyce Cain and Shelley White.
Clements said he hopes the bar will serve as a comfortable space for visitors of the hotel, an eclectic living room filled with items that look like they’ve been there for decades.
The space is open to patrons looking for a nice, quiet place to sit and talk by day, Clements said, but comes alive at night.
“The music comes up, the lights go down, the bartenders appear and it becomes a really cool crafted cocktail lounge with a good old-fashioned bar and somebody behind it that really knows their craft,” Clements said.
“This is our way of paying respect to the Burgess and Cashion family, and letting the world know that this wasn’t always a hotel. It was someone’s homestead and this land has meaning to people.”