Historic Districts

The King William Association was established in 1967 as a non-profit corporation. Read the King William Association CHARTER to see the purposes and intent of the founding members. In 1967, the King William area was not yet a historic district and one of the newly created association’s goal was “To Make King William Area an Historical District”.

The King William Association may be the only neighborhood association in the entire state with three historic districts within its boundaries, including the state’s oldest district created by city ordinance and three districts recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. All three districts are equally protected by city ordinances and share a common theme of historical and cultural importance.

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The following information is from the City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation.

The United States Arsenal in San Antonio, established in 1859, includes six main buildings: an office building, commanding officer's quarters, servants' quarters, a stable, a magazine building and a storehouse. These buildings are located on grounds bounded by South Flores Street on the west, East Arsenal Street on the south, the San Antonio River on the east, and private property on the north. South Main Street cuts the arsenal site almost in half with the commanding officer's quarters, servants' quarters, office building and storehouse located west of Main Street. The remaining buildings are located on the eastern half of the arsenal grounds. In 1985, H. E. Butt Grocery Company (H.E.B.) bought ten acres of the Arsenal complex, rehabilitated the existing buildings, and moved their corporate headquarters to San Antonio from Corpus Christi, Texas. New limestone buildings have been constructed to meet the corporation’s needs while complementing the historic character of the remaining arsenal buildings.

The South Alamo Street-South St. Mary’s Street National Historic District is a residential area sited roughly south and west of Alamo Street. Separated from the city center by La Villita and the Hemisfair grounds, the district retains intact most of its late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century fabric and as such, indicates the density and type of development that once spread from the city’s core south to the San Antonio River. The district’s 450+ structures include frame vernacular dwellings that were little affected by stylistic movements except for decorative details. There are, however, many finely crafted houses that illustrate the stylistic eclecticism emblematic of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century architecture. Bungalows dominate the southern portion of the district and commercial structures are largely limited to South Alamo Street. The district is characterized by the high concentration of dwellings sharing form and stylistic elements, its cohesive architectural fabric, and the law percentage of intrusive structures.

King William House

The King William area was originally farmland, irrigated by acequias flowing from the San Antonio River, owned by the 1718 Mission San Antonio de Valero (known as the Alamo). By the beginning of the 19th century, the missions were fully secularized, and the land belonging to Mission Concepcion was bought, sold, and divided into tracts by land speculators, beginning in the 1840s.

One of the earliest to settle was Carl Guenther, a German immigrant who built Pioneer Flour Mills on the lower bend of the San Antonio River. A number of other successful and influential German immigrants discovered the area and began building mansions, using Greek Revival, Victorian, and Italianate architectural styles. Ernst Altgelt, the first to build on current-day King William Street, is credited with naming his street after King Wilhelm I of Prussia.

When neighborhoods to the north began drawing King William residents away in the 1920s, many of the grand mansions were turned into apartments and the district fell into decline. But in the 1960s, creative young professionals rediscovered King William and began a renaissance, which continues to this day. The district was expanded in 1984 to include a more eclectic neighborhood of cottages south of Alamo Street.

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