KWA Newsletter Articles

The King William Association is a nonprofit organization with a small staff that cannot accomplish all that needs to be done. Plus, the KWA works on issues that can impact you. There are plenty of opportunities to invest your time and energy as a volunteer.

The committees listed in the current by-laws for which members are needed are: Membership, Finance, Planning, Fair, Community Concerns, Home Tour, Tourism Management, Newsletter and Publicity. Committees that facilitate programs are: Graffiti Wipeout, Public Arts, Sidewalk and Socials.

Neighborhood Watch Block Captains are also needed. Contact Patty Duarte at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

You can refer to your KWA directory, call the office at 227-8786, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for an explanation about a committee’s activities. Together, let us invest in keeping King William the best place to live and work!

You don’t have to choose between water efficient or historically appropriate landscape. On September 7, the San Antonio Conservation Society, the San Antonio Water System and Villa Finale joined to present “Historic Landscapes Can Be Water Efficient.” In addition to freebies, composting tips and a plant sale, Charles Bartlett spoke at the River House and led a walking tour to gently critique neighborhood yards and offer helpful tips for water conservation that also promote historic preservation.

Now that fall is in full swing, it is time to slow down, clean up the garden and enjoy a bit of a rest until spring.

Throw out potted plants that barely survived the hot summer and stack the pots in the garage.  If not done recently, fertilize shrubs and lawns with a good organic fertilizer and mulch everything in sight. Even in the fall and winter months lawns should be watered about every three weeks because grass roots continue to grow in our warm climate.

October has been declared “Texas Archaeology Month” by the Texas Historical Commission to “celebrate the spirit of discovery.” Among the stated purposes of Texas Archaeology Month is to recognize the historic significance of the state’s archaeological sites. There will be many programs and events across the state that will highlight prehistory and early history of Texas. The Office of Historic Preservation and the South Texas Archaeological Association will be featuring an event that includes artifact identification and other activities at the Harris House at San José Mission on October 12.

But you do not have to go outside the neighborhood to experience archaeological history. A Spanish Colonial acequia system lies beneath King William. Acequias were aqueducts or ditches dug by the Spanish, usually with Indian labor, to move water through the early settlement and fields. There are several parts to this system that occur on both sides of the San Antonio River in the King William neighborhood. The greater acequia network was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the Society of Civil Engineers in 1968.

The map showing the various components of the acequia system (page 3) is based on the late Waynne Cox’s master map on file at the Office of Historic Preservation. Sections of Acequia Madre, which started at Madre Dam, now in Brackenridge Park, flowed down the valley east of the San Antonio River behind the Alamo and down S. Alamo Street, eventually emptying into the San Antonio River across from Blue Star. A diversion ditch, or desague, fed off of this acequia along Wickes Street to the river at Eagleland.

Another important ditch, Pajalache or the Concepción acequia, followed the path that is now S. St Mary’s Street, beginning at La Villita and extending down to Roosevelt Park where it turns toward Mission Concepción.

The San Pedro acequia, one of the most important to the infant settlement of San Antonio de Bexár, tapped San Pedro Springs and was constructed about 1734-1738 on the high ground between San Pedro Creek and the San Antonio River. It was to provide a source of fresh water to the Spanish presidio and the Villa of San Fernando de Bexár settled by the immigrant Canary Islanders, and to irrigate the fields of the villa, which were located on each side of the ditch south of the presidio.

As the villa and commercial activity grew in and around San Fernando and the main plaza, pollution of the ditch became a major problem, not the least of which was a tannery north of the presidio and the butchered and discarded human remains of two Comanches killed in the Council House massacre. The polluted acequia water was the source of severe cholera epidemics in 1849 and again in 1866. Problems with pollution and maintenance led to the abandonment of the ditch, which was officially closed in 1912, although it had ceased to function as a source of water by the mid 1880s. A segment of this ditch is exposed at the SAHA offices on S. Flores Street. Also, the Commander’s House on S. Main Avenue has preserved a segment of this acequia by using the acequia as a planter that can still be seen today.

San Antonio has the longest continuous cultural history of any city in the state. One might be surprised as to what history and prehistory lies beneath our streets, yards and houses, but that is yet another story.

- Harry Shafer, PhD

Thank you for your vote of confidence in electing me the new King William Association president.  I look forward to working with the 2013-2014 Board of Directors, KWA members and businesses in our community.  Much was accomplished in the previous administration, as we heard at our last general meeting from Deb Mueller, our past president.  I would like to thank her, her board, committees and program managers for their many contributions.  And, let us not forget our Executive Director and staff who represent us so professionally every day. 

Recently, some of last year’s board members participated in a Core Capacity Assessment Tool (CCAT) exercise that presented us with opportunities for improvement in our core program development.  But we also want to hear from you; therefore, we have organized a Member Input Meeting to be held this month on Tuesday the 15th at SAY Si.  This meeting will support a KWA Strategic Plan to be developed over the next several months. 

As we look in the mirror, I hope we see an organization striving to become an agent of change that balances our individual “wants” with the “objectives” of our charter.  For that reason, we need more than just a talented group of directors doing the thinking – we need your participation.  I don’t mean just raising issues; I mean actively participating on reaching balanced solutions that will serve the common good.  Volunteering is not a science; you don’t have to be an expert in the area that interests you (see article this issue).  The only requirement is your interest in improving our neighborhood.  I encourage you to take ownership, get involved and add your voice in developing expected outcomes for our association. 

I look forward to meeting you and working with you.  Call our office tell them you are ready to be an active contributor toward the success of our Association.  

Day 1

One of my favorite small towns happens to be in the second-largest city in Texas. Southtown occupies a two-square-mile swath just a few blocks below San Antonio’s touristy epicenter, but it’s much farther away in spirit. Encompassing stately neighborhoods, like the King William Historic District , and artistic hubs, like the booming Blue Star Arts Complex, it’s filled with free parking and beloved restaurants where locals outnumber visitors (try finding either of those near the Alamo). Pitching a Southtown weekend to my friends, I billed it as one part relaxing “nearcation” (“We’ll rent bikes and stay in a B&B!”) and one part anthropological excursion (“Forget the Alamo and yellow cheese. Let’s find the Beaux-Arts mansions and pork belly!”). They were dubious but game.

Read the article

This summer's weather has been challenging, even brutal in regards to gardening. Temperatures of 100 degrees plus have been common and rainfall scarce. From June 1 through this writing in mid August, only 6 and 5/8 inches have fallen in the King William/Lavaca neighborhoods. About half of that was in the first part of June. If nothing else, we should have learned what plants are better adapted to our warmer and dryer climate. Take notes for next year.

The King William Association Charter was submitted to the State of Texas on July 28, 1967. The purpose of a charter is to proclaim an organization’s purpose and intent. Seven purposes are listed in the King William Charter. This article is about the seventh and last purpose.

7. In support of these purposes, the corporation shall solicit and receive funds and real personal, or mixed property and interests therein by gift, transfer, devise or bequest, and invest such funds and property, subject to such limitations, if any, as may be expressed in any instrument evidencing such gift, transfer, desire or bequest.

San Anto Cultural Arts (SACA) approached the King William Association in January with a request to install ten “mini murals” measuring eight feet by eight feet around the neighborhood. In the spring, SACA conducted a community meeting to discuss what subjects the neighborhood would like to see in the murals. Based on community input, SACA students got to work creating some designs. At the June KWA general meeting, John Medina, Public Art Program Manager, presented their ideas.

The King William Scholarship Committee is delighted to announce the Brackenridge High School students who have been awarded 2013 King William Association Scholarships. This award will assist the students through four semesters.

  • Nancy Delgado – St. Phillips College, Psychology
  • Jaime Fraga, Jr. – San Antonio College, Criminal Justice
  • Miguel Velazco – St. Phillips College, Psychology
  • Keren Hernandez – St. Phillips College, Dental Hygiene

The students will be formally recognized during the September 4th KWA general membership meeting. Invited are the recipients, their parents and family members. Also attending will be the volunteer mentors who will support and be a resource for the students as they enter this exciting and challenging endeavor. A huge thanks to the mentors: Cherise Allegrini, Ryan Cox, Aimee Holleman, Jennifer Hussey, Karen Krajcer, Nathan Morey, David Murphy, Kara Myers and Penny Wiederhold.

- Jennifer Morey

Imbrication: The weather-tight covering formed by overlapping rows of plain or end-modified tiles or shingles thereby producing distinctive surface patterns.

From the Old-House Dictionary, by Steven J. Phillips

Imbrication is often seen in Victorian-style houses, and the “modified” shingles are identified by the end shape of the shingle. For example, look at the shingles in the gable end roof of the photo above. Starting from the top then going down, there are five different rows of shingles types: square, diamond, octagonal, fish scale and square again. Overall, Phillips has identified nine types of imbrication styles.

Every August my family goes to the beach for a week before the girls have to go back to school. As I walked along the Atlantic coast this year, I thought about King William, both my neighborhood and our Association. Perhaps it was related to the high and low tides, or what washed up on the shore. Perhaps it was erosion of shoreline with dune restoration efforts to preserve it, or sand castle creations washed away with the next tide. Perhaps it was the diversity of marine life we encountered, from periwinkles to sand dollars, from nesting turtles to varieties of crab (including horseshoe, hermit and ghost), and from pods of dolphins to a shark!

When many people hear the word “Freemasonry,” they immediately have fantastical thoughts of secret handshakes, hidden treasures, and plots for world domination. Much of this mystique owes itself to movies such as National Treasure and The Da Vinci Code, which are peppered with Masonic myths. But as any good historian will tell you, myths are often based on a kernel of truth.

Summer in South Texas is one of the best times of the year to be outside along the San Antonio River. On some days, though, if the heat doesn’t keep you inside, the mosquitoes will. Luckily, the San Antonio River Watershed is home to a native fish that helps us with those pesky insects. The Western Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) is a small (1 to 2 inch) fish that lives in ponds, lakes, creeks and rivers. This fish, along with its close cousin, the more localized Largespring Gambusia (Gambusia geiseri), eats mosquitoes. While these fish might be considered pests in some parts of the country where they have been introduced, they are native to our watershed and therefore provide a natural form of pest control. Incredibly common and numerous, these hardy fish are not hard to find.

The King William Association By-Laws have gone through a lengthy review process, culminating with a set of proposed amendments that were presented to the membership at the June general meeting. At the direction of the KWA Board, the proposed amendments are scheduled for approval by the members eligible to vote at the annual meeting in September, in accordance with the current by-laws.

At the KWA General Meeting on June 5, 2013, H-E-B spokesperson Dya Campos announced that H-E-B had submitted a proposal to the City to build a grocery store at the corner of S. Flores St. and Cesar Chavez Blvd. In addition, Ms. Campos stated that H-E-B would be asking the City’s permission to close S. Main Avenue between Arsenal St. and Chavez Blvd. at an undetermined future date, regardless of whether or not a grocery store is built.

There is a process for any entity that wants to permanently close a city street, the “Closure, Vacation and Abandonment Process.” This is available for review online at the City Of San Antonio website under the CIMS department: www.sanantonio.gov/dsd/pdf/DPM/CIMS_closure.pdf.

Most of us have probably heard the term heirloom plants, but do not know what they really are. The following is taken from The Southern Heirloom Garden by William C. Welch and Greg Grant.

Heirloom plants are living antiques and belong in the garden because they are tough, adapted and pretty. They evoke nostalgia by their sight and smell because they are plants that Grandmother grew or we grew up with as children. The use of heirloom plants should be considered in establishing the garden to complement the restoration of any older home.

In last month’s KWA newsletter, I read about a nifty private social website called Nextdoor King William. No sooner had I signed up than I saw an intriguing post from neighbor Rhoda Hockett:

We have lived here 29 years and tonight was the first time we’ve seen fireflies on the river banks!!! We started seeing the first one from the bridge by Brackenridge HS then saw two more as we walked back toward Blue Star. Imagine if there were fifty or a hundred? The magic begins!

For many years, there was a corner of the King William neighborhood that was made up mostly of families of Italian decent. Many were first generation immigrants from Italy. The four square blocks bounded by S. Main, W. Guenther, Sheridan and Flores was a quiet, peaceful neighborhood where families like the Granatos, Pantusos, Martinos and Scarnatos would gather on one front porch or another after a day’s labor to exchange news and gossip.