KWA Newsletter Articles

When I bought my house, all of its many windows were fitted with lace curtains. The whole house was re-plastered and re-painted before I moved in, and during that time all the curtains were stored in the basement. I had thought I’d replace them with new translucent roman shades, but my moving van was scheduled to arrive and it seemed expedient to re-hang the curtains and wait to replace them later. Eight years have passed and they are still in the windows. I’ve come to love the way they filter the light without blocking views of the green canopies of the trees and the fantastic ridge line of my neighbor’s crested and turreted home.

The San Antonio and Aransas Pass railroad built a large wooden depot in 1884 at the intersection of S. Alamo and S. Flores, current site of the Salvation Army Store. On May 30, 1898, the depot was the scene of the departure of Teddy Roosevelt and his Roughriders as they headed for Cuba. In 1925, it was bought by the Southern Pacific and service to the old wooden depot ended. The SA&AP depot was demolished in 1939.

The King William Historic District was awarded a 2014 Certificate of Excellence from the world’s largest travel website. Traveler reviews posted on TripAdvisor are consistently outstanding, putting our beautiful neighborhood in the top 10% of rated venues around the world.

Posted comments include “beautiful mansions and eclectic businesses,” “dog friendly…wonderful mix of folks,” “peaceful riverwalk,” and, most importantly, the advice to “wear comfortable shoes.” Congratulations to all of the King William residents and businesses for so successfully putting out the Welcome Mat.

- Nora Peterson


This month we celebrate and honor the retirement of Susan Rothman, longtime King William resident and King William Fair Coordinator. Susan came to the Fair in September 2009 bringing 20 years' experience working in the for-profit and non-profit sector. Her prior experience in fundraising, interfacing with donors, plus managing staff and volunteers prepared her for similar duties at the Fair. She was originally brought in to focus on increasing sponsorships, and since then she has increased sponsor donations by 250%, not including the many in-kind donations she has facilitated.

I have been busy scouring the ’hood and have some suggestions for you for a PERFECT King William and Southtown Day.

Start your day at Halcyon Southtown in the Blue Star Arts complex with a cappuccino and a yogurt parfait or maybe a breakfast sandwich. Take your laptop, a great novel, the Express-News or your KWA Newsletter – sit at one of the outside tables to read – and enjoy your early morning.

Consistently warmer temperatures are taking over from the rollercoaster, warm, cold, hot weather we have had this spring. Lawns are growing, and now is a good time to fertilize if it has been more than 3 months since the last time. Use a good organic fertilizer, and remember you do not have to water it in right away if time does not permit.  If you have flower pots and hanging baskets, keep some of the fertilizer back and use it as a liquid to water them.  About every 2 weeks put about a cup of fertilizer in a 2 gallon water can and let it sit a few minutes to start dissolving, then water.  You should be able to do this a couple more times before the fertilizer is used.  

I’ve reclaimed my second floor back porch and the view of the sunsets after the replacement of decayed decking and repainting. Having wooden porches is not unlike owning a boat. My tree-shrouded vessel is always exposed to the elements and always in need of maintenance, even in the safe harbor of King William. The effort required to keep things in good trim isn’t quite enough to explain the disappearance of porches from American houses. The kind of open hospitality and embrace of community that porches represent has slowly fallen victim to rising building costs and construction regulations that put a premium on enclosed, air-conditioned spaces.

Challenges will continue to face our neighborhood in the near and long term as development continues to change the character of properties within our boundaries and in our surrounding area. At our May general membership meeting you heard our member’s displeasure with the proposed installation of generic VIA bus stops within our association’s boundaries. The proposed bus stops have no historical identity with our neighborhood and degrade the integrity of our preservation efforts. The City has also planned for installation of pedestrian lights that many of our members questioned. Changes such as these are recommended for approval through the Office of Historical Preservation (OHP), then reviewed and approved by the Historical Design & Review Committee (HDRC) and then perhaps the Board of Adjustments (BoA). Unfortunately these plans were approved even after the KWA Architectural Advisory Committee raised valid issues why these installations should not be allowed. The KWA position, as echoed in our membership input meetings, is to keep our neighborhood historic by following simple historic preservation concepts. Allowing non-historically based modifications and installations means that the character of this valued asset in the City of San Antonio is rapidly being depreciated.

Voting members: Jack Kent (Chair), Christine Viña, Derek Klepac, Max Martinez*, Chris Price*, Pat Conroy*, Anne Alexander* (* also members of the KWA Board of Directors)

Contributing member: Charles Schubert

The primary function of the AAC is to comment on cases to be heard by the City of San Antonio Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) that are located in King William or may have an impact on our neighborhood. Because the AAC may be perceived as speaking for the KWA, a majority of our voting members are also members of the Board; other members have a background in architecture and other design professions. We seek to rotate the non-Board members through voting and contributing status. In practice, nearly all AAC decisions are reached by consensus.

Zoning is a tool a city has to regulate land uses, including the size and shape of development. The City of San Antonio Unified Development Code is flexible in order to accommodate the changing neighborhood and conditions that may necessitate a zoning change. The City of San Antonio has many zoning districts, of which 2 are featured below: BASE districts and OVERLAY districts.

Recently, I was asked if I’d like to bark reviews of my favorite walks in the neighborhood for the newsletter. I took a nap to snooze on it. Afterwards, I felt the need to walk and the idea sounded like fun. I decided to write about the walk from the Johnson Street footbridge to the Nueva Street Dam, my favorite as a pup.

The footbridge has plazas on both ends, each with a pair of tall pointy spires. These are perfect places to leave your beginning and ending “pee-mail”. I should mention right now, have a big drink of water before leaving home. There are so many great things and places to leave pee-mail on this walk.

Spring has brought with it the annual reminder that some kinds of human activity can be beneficial for the planet. Our lives in King William are lived under the greatest green canopies in the city. The leaves have reappeared and are now fully unfurled like thousands of pennants animated by the slightest movement of air. The first bright greens of early spring have deepened into richer, deeper, hues, signaling the darker pools of shade collecting on the ground beneath them.

With the weather turning warmer, people are heading outside to enjoy the outdoors. The San Antonio River Foundation aimed to make this more comfortable by installing two art benches along the Mission Reach section of the San Antonio River Walk to offer walkers and cyclists resting points. The benches also offer enticing aesthetic designs by local artists who have each put their own stamps on the benches.

King William Association staff was informed by VIA that a new style bus shelter was chosen for downtown. Installation of the bus shelters is to occur at each corner of the intersection of S. Saint Mary’s St. and Cesar Chavez Blvd. This corner includes the Pedro Huizar Park, an important gateway into the King William Historic District.

Modern bus shelterAt the September 19, 2013 regularly scheduled KWA Board meeting staff presented the proposed VIA bus shelter which was to be installed at Pedro Huizar Park. The KWA board voted against the modern bus shelter as they felt it was inappropriate for this gateway. As directed by the board, staff wrote a letter to VIA with copies to our Councilman, Historic Preservation Officer, and Parks and Recreation Director notifying VIA of KWA’s concern over this very modern bus shelter proposed for the park. Because of our letter, VIA pulled the replacement of the bus shelter.

Based on conversations between KWA and VIA, the current downtown bus shelters ,designed by the architectural firm of Fisher Heck, will be recycled and installed at Pedro Huizar Park.

In March, KWA staff was informed by VIA that the downtown bus shelters would be extending into the King William area. At the April 16 regularly-scheduled KWA Board meeting, the board reviewed the proposed bus shelters and once again agreed that they were inappropriate for our Historic District, and King William bus shelters should maintain a separate identity from downtown. KWA has been working with VIA staff and again proposed to VIA that the Fisher Heck bus shelters be recycled and relocated to the King William neighborhood. As of April 24, KWA does not have a list or map of the bus stops that are slated by VIA to receive a bus shelter, nor a commitment from VIA to recycle the Fisher Heck bus shelters.

- Cherise Bell

Another King William Fair has put many smiles on youngsters’ faces and brought much enjoyment to many of our friends and neighbors. As you know, our Fair is our principle fundraiser. And while most of us experience the Fair for only one day, there are countless volunteers and volunteer hours required to bring it together. I take this opportunity to thank Fair Chair Jeremy Nelson and the rest of the staff and many volunteers who made this event a reality. And, when we talk about the Fair, we need to recognize that without the support of our many sponsors this fun-filled event would not be possible.

Longtime King William neighbors may remember the elderly lady who lived in the derelict two-story house at 203 Madison until the 1970s. A bit of research reveals that she was Anita McLean, granddaughter of Johann William Schuwirth, the original owner and builder of the house. As you can see from the before and after photos, one should never doubt that these old historic houses can be restored.