King William neighbors, particularly those living near the river, often see wild creatures roaming about – opossums, snakes, raccoons and skunks. A hundred years ago, wildlife was even more abundant. This c. 1903 photo shows August Zuercher and his family posed on the bank of the San Antonio River proudly displaying the results of a raccoon hunt. August is in the foreground with his gun, his wife Kate and daughter, Augusta in the boat and sons Emil and William are minding the dogs. This photo was likely taken about 1903 behind their house, which once stood at 923 E. Guenther Street.

 

The Zuercher house, along with dozens of others, were demolished in the mid-1970s to make room for a new high school building which would replace the old Brackenridge High School. The new school would be named Phillis Wheatley High School.

The old Brackenridge High School, designed by Alfred Giles, was built in 1916. When the old school was demolished, the Zuercher house, along with all the houses in the 900 block of E. Guenther were razed as well as houses on the last block of Wickes, Adams, Mission and Cedar. In addition, all of the houses on Marne St. were destined for demolition.

The March 24, 1972 edition of the San Antonio Light reported that “The San Antonio School District has purchased another site in the Brackenridge area for the new Wheatley campus. The newest acquisition is at 319 Marne, bringing the total of sites purchased to date to 37. The remaining 19 sites needed for the campus have had condemnation suits brought against their owners.”

Marne St. was one block southeast and parallel to Temple Street (now Eagleland) running from S. St. Mary’s to E. Guenther. Marne St. no longer exists, as it was incorporated into the school campus. In 1988, amid much controversy, the school was renamed Brackenridge High School.

The Zuercher’s house on E. Guenther was not their first home in the neighborhood. In 1883, August Zuercher, a butcher, bought a lot at the corner of Pereida and Mission Streets from developers B.F. and Adalina Dane for $400. Their house, numbered 402 Pereida, was built soon thereafter, and August, his wife Kate, daughter Augusta and infant son William moved into their new home. About five years later, their son Emil was born. They lived in their house on Pereida for about twenty years before moving to their new house at 923 E. Guenther. The Pereida house remained in the family as rental property until 1928, when it was sold by the Zuercher heirs.

- Bill Cogburn

Sources: Mary Burkholder’s Down the Acequia Madre;
SAPL Texana Room; San Antonio Light; photos courtesy of UTSA Library Special Collections.