KWA Newsletter Articles

When the l886 frame church at the address of Produce Row and San Saba Streets was torn down, the materials were immediately put to use in the construction of a new parsonage next door. The church was originally known as the Mexican Methodist Episcopal Church and the streets originally called Presidio and West Streets. This parsonage, built in l921 entirely of salvaged materials from this Victorian era frame church, sat beside the newly built brick structure and was renamed La Trinidad Templo Methodista Mexicano. Wood timbers, framing, the wood flooring, wainscoting and other materials from the old church were main features of the new parsonage. The parsonage remained at this location until l950 when it was moved to 334 King William Street when the church expanded their facilities again. La Trinidad pastors and their families occupied this parsonage at this location until l975, having purchased the property from O. Wolf who had acquired it from the Groos family a few years earlier.

Here is an account by Sheila Nicholls Winget of the moving of the house to King William in l950. “As a child, I lived at 338 Madison (now the lovely home of Gates and Joan Whiteley). When I was quite young, I overheard the 'grownups' talking about a house that would be moved to the corner of Sheridan and King William streets, exactly one block away. Wow! How could this be? How could a house move? In this pre-television, pre-internet era of Dale Evans and Roy Rogers westerns, I was thrilled!

"The next day, upon awaking early, I started my vigil, sitting on the edge of Sheridan Street, which was unpaved and un-curbed at that time. Waiting and waiting, I fantasized with serious contemplation the wonder of a moving house. It finally happened! Yes….here it came….the white house rolled down Sheridan. It was an all day procedure. Not wanting to miss a single moving inch, I would not be budged by my Mother’s call to lunch. Instead, I ate my sandwich on the side of the street, convinced I was witness to a remarkable event. What fun!!

"What I didn’t not know is that many years later, I would return to the neighborhood and live within view of this wonderful and beautiful home, now owned by Erin and Olin Strauss. This memory… still exciting and vivid… creates one of those internal and eternal smiles we all associate with happy and interesting childhood recollections.”

The pastor of La Trinidad, Rev. Espino, and his wife lived here until l960. The house was modernized and the wainscoting was covered with sheetrock and the floors with linoleum tile. A concrete porch was added and a stone wall built around the perimeter of the property with stones from the Chabot House, where Mrs. Adams had some piled in the yard.

The house continued to serve as a parsonage until l975. Walter Mathis purchased the property and erected the iron fence over the stone wall. Then he took an ornate fireplace mantle from the Chabot house and built a fireplace for the house. He added the gazebo-like porch, the detail over the window of the porch and the shutters, board and batten siding, and a metal roof with an ornate detail ornament over the peak of the porch. The floor of the porch was covered with D’Hanis brick and the l880 embellishments were added.

He sold the house to Nile B. and Mary Jo Norton in l976. Their contributions were mostly to the interior. Some of the l886 wainscoting was exposed. They also added rooms to the rear of the house.

In November of 2003, Erin and Olin Strauss bought the house. Senior District Judge Olin and Erin Strauss moved here from Jourdanton, Texas, where Olin was the Judge for the 81st District Court serving Atascosa, Wilson, Karnes, Frio and LaSalle Counties.

Earlier that month, while driving through the KW District on the way to take Olin back to the Bexar County Courthouse after lunch, they noticed a "for sale" sign in the front yard of 334 King William that hadn't been there that morning. Excitedly, they called the realtor, saw the house that evening after work, and bought it the next day. They learned that the sign had only been up twenty minutes when they first saw it. It was meant to be! After a little renovation, they moved in on April 16, 2004.

The Strausses exposed the original pine floors, painted the wainscoting, landscaped the yards and put in gardens and built cabinets in the kitchen. In 2007, Jim Smith, the color specialist, interviewed the Strausses and created a sort of portrait of the new owners with “their” colors, painting the house in the refreshing limes, lemons, and creams as we see it today. The house has been “Smithed.”

The yards around the house were landscaped with a serpentine D’Hanis brick walk. Erin and Olin Strauss entertain their large family on the porch and in the gardens surrounding the house. Many refer to the house as the house without curtains. I think of it as the house where once again folks live on the front porch. It was a good move.

Henry Rayburn

A modern Brackenridge High School sits on the edge of the King William neighborhood at the corner of S. St. Mary’s and Eagleland Streets. However, many present residents may not have seen the imposing structure built in 1916 as the George W. Brackenridge High School, which was designed by the wellknown American architect Alfred Giles. Its first class graduated in 1918. The accompanying drawing shows a 1917 rendering of the new campus looking from S. St. Mary’s Street. The accompanying photo is a 1960 view of the school’s main entrance. At some point, the decision was made to demolish the building and construct a new air conditioned school.

The Albert Carl Moye House 524 King William Street Albert Carl Moye was born in Kassel, Germany, on September 19, 1820. He married twenty-year-old Mathilde Wilhamina von Bartheld on October 31, 1841. Four years later, with their twoyear- old son, Otto, and infant daughter Wilhamina, the Moyes, along with 214 other German immigrants, set sail for Galveston, Texas, aboard the three-mast barque Neptune. They, along with many other Germans, had been lured to Texas by promises made in the terms of the Fisher-Miller Grant. Prospective settlers were to receive 320 acres (for a married man) plus transportation across the ocean and to their acreage; a house, furnishings, utensils and farming equipment; access to churches, hospitals, roads and general provisions for their welfare.

Unfortunately, the Moyes landed in Galveston in November 1845, just as the war between the United States and Mexico was heating up. This meant that all means of transportation were needed by the Army, leaving the Moye’s group and thousands of other German immigrants stranded on the Texas Gulf Coast. Many perished due to exposure to the elements and disease; some made the long overland trip on foot or by wagon to San Antonio, New Braunfels and Fredericksburg. The Moyes were detained for six months in Indianola, the port nearest the Fisher-Miller Grant lands. By the time they finally reached San Antonio, The Republic of Texas to which they were immigrating had joined the Union and the many promises that had attracted them to the Republic had vanished.

I applied for a job at Hemisfair when I was a senior at Incarnate Word High School. I was sure that I would get some fancy guide job and wear a really cool uniform but the Personnel Department had other plans for my skills. I was hired to sell soft ice cream cones for 25 cents plus 1 cent tax. Lots of people sure griped about that 1 cent tax. My uniform was a red and white striped shirt – so much for cool.

Every evening after the shop closed, we had to clean out the soft ice cream vats with bleach and water. It was a nasty job. First thing the next morning, we would rinse the machines out, pour in the ice cream mixture, then dispense about a cup of soft ice cream to get rid of any bleachy residue.

One weekend morning, we were stormed by folks wanting soft ice cream cones. I forgot to throw away that initial cup of ice cream. Instead, our first customers got bleachy soft ice cream cones. They never came back to the stand, and I’ll bet they never ate another soft ice cream cone in Texas. To this day I gag when I see a soft ice cream cone!

Despite the heat and crazy tourists, I met some really cool people and had a lot of fun. The money I made helped pay my tuition at Louisiana State University where I went to follow my first real love. That begins another wild and crazy chapter in my life. I am still living in Louisiana but plan to retire to my childhood home on E. Guenther. My life has certainly made one enormous circle. I look forward to being a Texan again.

Jane L. Bowles

…where Tito’s Mexican Café is currently located on S. Alamo was once the A&E Grocery. It operated in that location for many years, well into the 1990’s. It had wooden floors and a meat counter in the back. The owner offered credit to his customers. Late on Fridays, payday I guess, customers would line up to pay on their accounts. The owner kept their accounts on small pads neatly arranged in a wooden box behind the front counter.

Alan Cash

…there were all sorts of little shops and stores in the neighborhood back in the 1940’s. The Red & White Grocery was on the corner of Beauregard and S. Alamo. The Garden Fruit Store was where Rosario’s is now. Of course, St. Mary’s was once called Garden Street. Farther south on St. Mary’s, there was a bakery, Piggly Wiggly grocery store and Winn’s, which was a five & dime.

....At the corner of S. Alamo and St. Mary’s, there was Sommer’s Rexall Drug Store complete with soda fountain. Jordan Ford Co. was also located at that intersection where Goodyear is now. Johnny’s Barbershop, where my son Michael got his first haircut, was across from Jordan Ford.

Evelyn Barker

…when we would look down the street on the morning of the King William Fair or Home Tour to see if ANYONE might be coming to the event. The streets would be empty except for residents.

Carolene Zehner

One of the most fascinating stories on King William Street surrounds the Alfred Giles house at 308 King William. Alfred Giles designed and built the house. His granddaughter, Amy Dreiss Scott, appeared in the driveway in 2001 and told Margaret Leeds, the current owner, that she was born in the house eighty years to the date and that her niece had driven her down from Comfort to drive by and see the old place. She said that her grandfather was Alfred Giles and that she grew up in the house.

She was born in the front bedroom just after the 1921 flood. Alfred Giles told her stories about the flood when she was older. He told her that the wooden front steps had floated down the street along with numerous pianos and front porches from other houses. King William Street became an actual river. When he went searching for the steps, he encountered two ladies who thought the steps belonged to them. He entered the evidence that he had supervised the building of the steps and that he could show them the saw cuts in the board, which he did. The ladies were convinced and let him have the steps.

…about 202 Madison’s infamous past. When I moved in next door in 1979, Cecil Reynolds, the owner, told me that it had once been a brothel. He invited me down to the half-basement which had a long hallway down the middle with rooms 1 through 6 on one side and 7 through 12 on the other. The numbers over the doorways were in black lettering on green tiles.

Alan Cash

…when we were growing up at our house on W. Johnson Street. Our property backed right up to the river back then. Our Dad had a boat dock at the base of a huge tree on the bank of the river. He had a wooden boat with a Johnson 3 hp outboard motor. We’d cruise up and down the river in that boat. We could go south only as far as the S. Alamo dam, but we could go up river almost to town since the Nueva St. dam didn’t exist back then. Dad told us that he could remember a time when he would see guards with guns posted around the perimeter of the U.S. Arsenal (now H-E-B headquarters). The guards would sometimes stop him and make him turn around and go back down river.

When they realigned the river in the late 1960’s and took out the bend that went behind the Guenther Mill, we no longer had the river at our backyard. Our mother was sad for a long time. Not only did they take away our part of the river but they cut down that magnificent tree.

Marco Botello

…when Pioneer Flour Mill would have enormous trailer trucks lined up overnight with their motors running waiting to deliver grain to the mill. They would line up on King William, Main and Guenther. That was before they purchased and developed the area behind the mill.

Carolene Zehner

There has been a military presence in San Antonio from the very beginning. In 1718, when Spanish padres came to start a mission, they were accompanied by soldiers who built barracks and established a military post. San Antonio’s geographic location has made it a strategic spot for military installations ever since.

In 1858, the U. S. Army chose San Antonio as the location for a permanent arsenal. It would be a facility large enough for the army to store arms and munitions to supply all the frontier forts and outposts in Western Texas. Up until that time, the army’s ordinance department had used rented buildings, principally the Alamo complex to conduct its arsenal operations.

…when we’d walk from our house on Mission Street to St. Mary’s to catch the street car. That was the Hot Wells line which crossed over to Presa Street then ran south out to the Hot Wells Hotel. That was a very popular place years ago, up to the 20’s and 30’s – maybe even later. Many famous people went there to take the hot sulfur baths. Back then, St. Mary’s was called Garden Street. We’d also ride the streetcar on Mill Street which is now South Alamo.

Selma Nuessle

…the ruckus that was caused in the neighborhood when the Father Hidalgo mural suddenly appeared in the early 1980’s without benefit of proper approval. It depicted Father Hidalgo leading the Diez y Seis de Septiembre revolt and was prominently displayed on the south wall of the old A&E Food market (now Tito’s) at the corner of South Alamo and Beauregard.

Originally painted as a backdrop for a Budweiser advertising poster, it showed, in vivid color, the Father literally ripping apart the chains of oppression. Some say that Walter Mathis, arbiter of neighborhood decorum, turned the color of plum jelly when he saw it.

It remained a controversial subject among several of the neighborhood folks for a long time but eventually the opposition either got used to it or lost the will to fight. It was still on the wall until about five or six years ago when new tenants decided to whitewash over it. By then, it had become such a neighborhood icon that many of us were bitterly disappointed to see it gone.

Bill Cogburn

…when Bonham Elementary had only one large pecan tree and three bushes out front –the rest of the campus was asphalt and gravel.

Carolene Zehner

There are twelve houses in King William which are here today because of the foresight and thoughtfulness as well as understanding of architectural history which Walter Mathis demonstrated. These twelve houses helped to spur the restoration of many more houses in King William and across the city of San Antonio.

I have been working since April on a series of sketches of these twelve houses which Mr. Mathis rescued. They will be completed by the opening date for the Villa Finale Visitor Center and will be exhibited at my home. Over the next twelve months, I will attempt to write a short narrative or give some historical information for each of the twelve houses, beginning with the Chabot House.

The Chabot House is one of the richest in detail and has been on my drawing board for several months. Curtis Johnson and Leland Stone provided me with a letter from Walter Mathis to the Texas Historical Commission for the marker application. In Mr. Mathis’ application for a marker, he made these comments about the house. I have condensed his comments for the newsletter. “I have been unable to locate any records indicating the architect and contractor.

October 6, 2008, marks the 40th anniversary of the closing of HemisFair ‘68. I plan for this essay to be the first of a series about HemisFair. In ‘68, I had just graduated from Texas Tech, and started training for my position as Bi-Lingual Official Guide that January. I have great memories and I remember so many excellent, and eye-opening, events.

The fair was characterized as a “Jewel Box.” Our attendance was strong, and everyone was charmed by the fabulous foreign, domestic, and artistic pavilions. We had an international food court, water-skiing in the lake, daily parades and a myriad of unique events. Remarkable shows were the Bolshoi Ballet, Fiddler on the Roof, Verdi’s opera, Don Carlo, Ray Charles, and many more.

...Mission Street, when it was just a dusty dirt road with horses hitched to wagons passing up and down. That’s the way I remember it when I was growing up.

When our father bought our house at 422 Mission Street in 1908, it only had four rooms, two on either side of the hall. My sister and I were both born in this house; Mildred in 1911 then me in 1916. Our father eventually enlarged the house by adding a kitchen, bath and another bedroom but we still had the outhouse out back for many years. The only heat in the winter was from a big iron stove in the kitchen. I remember always having electricity but we kept the kerosene lamps out on the tables for years because electric service wasn’t very dependable.

Eddie and Elfreida Basse lived across the street. Eddie and his brother had a hardware store on Military Plaza across from City Hall.

Selma Nuessle

…how O’Neil Ford loved his old vintage cars. One Sunday afternoon on our way home from church, we passed by O’Neil’s office on King William Street and there he was, polishing his 1923 Bentley. I’m nuts about vintage cars so I stopped to admire it. O’Neil held up the keys to the car and said, “Here, take it for a spin.” I was so taken aback that I declined and I’ve kicked myself ever since for not taking that Bentley around the block.

Richard Garza

…in the 1980’s when the old Reilly House that was at 230 Madison Street burned to the ground, taking with it six elderly tenants. In the late 80’s, the house directly behind on South Alamo was turned around and moved to the vacant site on Madison to become the Brackenridge House B&B. When the house faced South Alamo, it could best be described as a flop house with residents sleeping on the porch and the front yard strewn with beer and whisky bottles.

Alan Cash

…when Walter Mathis would drive around the neighborhood checking out the condition of the lawns. If your grass was getting a bit overgrown, he’d stop and tell you to take care of it.

Bill Cogburn

…when Don Lee checked your tires, washed your windshield and filled your car with gas at the Gulf Station at the corner of King William and South St. Mary’s Street.

Carolene Zehner

…the year that the fair was almost rained out -- sometime in the late 1990’s. It had been raining off and on all the night before and was still raining when the parade started. To ease the tension and put the best face on what was beginning to look like an absolute disaster, the fair cochairs, Lola Austin and Lynn Dickey, went home and put on their swim suits and rode in the fair parade on top of open convertibles, hamming it up like bathing beauties. About eleven o’clock when the parade was almost over, the rain stopped and the sun came out. Although attendance was down that year, many of the fairgoers who persevered said it was the best fair in years because it wasn’t so crowded.

Bill Cogburn

…when Christine Carvajal was the Grand Marshall of the 2001 King William Fair Parade. She was absolutely thrilled with the honor and went right out a bought a new dress and a pair of red shoes for the occasion.

Bill Cogburn

…when Rayford Dobie talked me into chairing the first King William Fair back in 1967. The first fair was from 1 to 5 on a Saturday afternoon and was really just a home-made event. Neighborhood volunteers nailed together craft stands and set them up in yards along King William Street.

Back then, the fair was just arts and crafts – no food or beverages. The neighborhood association received 10% of sales and we netted $35.55 that first year. The next year, the proceeds were up to $47.15. I think Julian Trevino’s father had a tamale booth that year and we made about $10 off that.

Mary Schug

…when I moved here in 1979, neighborhood volunteers were still making all the food booths for the fair. For weeks preceding the fair, the booths were banged together with 2 x 4’s and plywood on the lot which is now the garden for the King William Lofts on Madison Street. Very early on the day of the fair, they were trucked, one by one, out to the street. After the fair was over, it took us a month to disassemble the booths and we always stored them in the Masaro’s barn. I think we were constructing about fifteen booths at the height of this madness before we finally had the good sense to have the job contracted out. The Masaro’s old rustic barn, by the way, has since been beautifully restored into a guest cottage on the river behind 221 E. Guenther.

Alan Cash

…I think it was 1973, the second spring that Ernest and I were back in the neighborhood when Carolene Zehner and I were doing publicity for the King William Fair. We had hand-drawn fliers and we begged newspapers and TV stations for publicity. That was the year that Patsy LeBlanc sold chalupas from Sonora Hartley’s front porch. You should have heard the flak we got from the neighborhood old guard – selling food at the fair for heaven’s sake! What’s this neighborhood coming to!

Karen Casillas

…at one of the early King William Fair planning sessions, everyone agreed that we really must have rest room facilities for the fairgoers. The association didn’t have the money to rent port-a-potties so Hazel and I volunteered our house as a rest stop. ‘How bad could it be?’ we said to each other. Well….on fair day, we quickly found out just how bad it could be! It was absolutely awful! We spent days cleaning up that mess.

Al Conner

…one of my fondest memories of “Batt” Batterson was chauffeuring him in the Red Beetle when he was Parade Grand Marshall in the 1983 King William Fair.

Ralph Wells

 …on a warm summer evening when we would be sitting on our front porch, we’d sometimes hear singing coming from a church camp meeting down on the river where Constance Street meets Crofton. This must have been back in the 30’s. These folks would drive their cars off the road by the Brooks house down a path to the river’s edge and set up their tents. Some would be in cars but some would be in wagons pulled by horses. They might be there for two or three days. When they had baptisms, there would be a lot of shouting and wailing.

Mildred Nuessle

…when the San Antonio River was just a narrow stream where it ran through the Arsenal area. It was overgrown with trees and bushes and was a permanent home to lots of “campers.”

Caroline Zehner

…when the river was my playground as I was growing up. The neighborhood kids would spend hours and hours playing and exploring along the banks of our river. Back then, it was a winding, natural wooded area, not the straightened cemented channel you see today. All the flood control work started in the late 1960’s. The original river circled behind the Guenther Mill where a dam formed a deep pool for the old water wheel. We’d go back there for the best fishing.

Richard Garza

…when Bobbie Masoro fished the half-drowned dog out of the river behind her house at 221 E. Guenther. Unfortunately, that dog had serious behavioral problems, probably from being abused. Even after many sessions with a trainer, she was never socialized, but Ed and Bobbie were crazy about her and showered her with love and affection until the day she died. Her name was “Beauty” – a definite misnomer.

Bill Cogburn

…before the 1960’s when you could drive across theriver at Johnson Street on a vehicular bridge. After the river realignment was completed, there was no bridge at all, just a dead-end street. It was another sixteen years, in the mid 1980’s before the pedestrian bridge that you see today was installed. It’s often referred to as the O. Henry Bridge as the spires of the bridge once stood on the old Commerce Street Bridge which inspired O. Henry’s short story, "A Fog in Santone."

Henry Botello

…when my husband, Humberto and I moved into our house on Washington Street in 1963, our dead-end of the street was just a dusty road – muddy when it rained. No curbing, and from the road, it sloped down to a primitive, meandering river. The area between the house and the river was an overgrown tangle of trees and vines. I was determined to clear that jungle and after a lot of work and several attacks of poison ivy, I finally had a beautiful picnic area and with the addition of tables and benches, it became a favorite spot for family cook-outs. Church and school groups and neighbors often had their parties on the grass under those huge pecan trees.

Elvira Ramirez

..…the little shop which sits diagonally on the corner of S. Alamo and Beauregard for years was Tiende Guadalupe but before that, it was a popular neighborhood bar called “The Friendly Spot.” They had live music and attracted large crowds, especially on weekends. For a while, the crowds were so large that they would ice the beer down in the back of a pickup truck. Many neighbors remember the place with fondness but to others it was merely an irritant because of the loud music.

Alan Cash

. . . . O’Neil Ford had lunch in our restaurant every day for years. One morning, he came in early to speak to my husband, Julian. “I’m going to be bringing some important people for lunch today”, he said. “They’re from Europe and they’re considering me for a big commission so I want everything to be really special.”

The food was good and the service attentive. When presented with the check, Ford pulled out his check book and wrote out a check for the meal adding a generous gratuity, all done with a flourish. My husband took the check, then leaned close to Ford’s ear and whispered loud enough for everyone at the table to hear, “Mr. Ford, do you want me to hold this check for two weeks like last time?” My husband was always joking. It didn’t matter who they were.

Mary Trevino

..…when the monthly King William meetings were held in the house behind the Girl Scout Headquarters on King William Street (now Charles Butt’s house). We met there even during Girl Scout cookie season – cookies stacked five and six feet high. The aroma was delightful torture!

Carolene Zehner

..…back in the 1950’s when I attended grade school at St. Joseph’s downtown. The school was on Commerce Street just past Dillard’s – back then, it was Joske’s. Every morning, the nuns would line us up and march us to mass next door to the church. If you’ve seen the movie The Bells of St. Mary’s you get the picture

Ernest Casillas

In 1908, trustees for the Methodist Episcopal Church- South signed a contract to pay Joseph and Julia Courand $3,000 for the two lots at the corner of S. Alamo and Wickes. The Courands, who owned Courand Grain Co., lived next to those two lots in their impressive mansion at the corner of Adams and S. Alamo. By 1912, the newly formed congregation had accumulated enough money to build a new church building. In 1913, the church was dedicated and given the name, Alamo Methodist Church. Beverely Spillman designed the building, a fine example of mission style architecture popular in South Texas at that time.

For over fifty years, the little church played an important role in the spiritual life of King William residents but by the late 1960’s the membership had declined to the point that the church could no longer be sustained and the congregation finally disbanded. After sitting vacant for several years suffering abuse from vandals and vagrants, the church building was purchased in 1976 by Bill and Marcia Larsen who transformed it into a restaurant and theatre. In 2005, the building went through yet another extensive renovation by the new owner and King William neighbor, Paul Alan Boskind.

…the house at 322 Washington Street began its life in 1901 on the near north side at the SW corner of E. Elmira and Lexington Streets as a two story, gabled yellow brick Victorian. In the 1940’s, Worthy Wolff operated his restaurant and night club in the house. In 1951, to make way for the Pan Am Expressway, the brick was removed and the structure was cut into four sections and moved to Washington Street. At the new location, it was reassembled, stuccoed over and given a Mediterranean look. If you’ve walked by the house lately, you will see that it has gone through yet another transformation – back to its Victorian look of a hundred years ago.

Bill Cogburn

…the big flood of 1921. When the water finally began to subside, our whole family, with my baby brother Joe in the baby carriage, walked along the river all the way downtown to see the damage. There was all kinds of debris floating down the river; furniture, lumber, even a piano bouncing along in the water. Bridges were crumpled. Houston Street was several feet under water. On the way back, we stopped at our grandparent’s house on North Street, which is now a part of Hemisfair Park. They lived next door to Riebe’s Mortuary where flood victims were lined up on the porch.

Selma Nuessle

…in the mid 1930’s when there was an ice cream parlor on the corner of S. Presa and Callahan Streets where Sandy’s Beauty Salon is now. They had many flavors to choose from and we felt it was such a treat for our dad to take us there and treat us to an ice cream cone of any flavor of our choice.

Julie Medina

…when parking problems in the neighborhood were caused, not by First Friday but by the Food Stamp Office housed on S. Alamo. Back then, everyone eligible for the program had to get in line once or twice a month, missing work for the day, to receive their allotment. This one office served the whole city.

…if you remember when Walter just had one house.

Carolene Zehner

In response to April’s “Old Timer” feature:

Bill Cogburn’s story about the burning of the Maurer-Fry Houses on Madison brought back the vivid memory of being awakened to screaming sirens and a flaming sky. The awareness of what was burning was immediate – we had all feared that those houses would be lost.

I made it to my porch just as Eddie Polk came rushing thru the front gate. I’m recalling that he had a mop in his hand but maybe I made that up. Our house’s first major improvement, a new cedar shingle roof, had just been completed. Eddie, at the time, was the only insurance man in town willing to insure our “wreck”. He was sweating his decision to insure us and willing to climb up and douse sparks to protect his business and, in the process, our house. What a unique neighborhood it was.

Jessie Simpson

…in the mid-80’s when La Focaccia Italian Grill was a muffler shop. I remember driving in there, not to get a pizza but to have a new muffler installed on my car

Alan Cash

…back in 1972 when Hazel and I were in the process of moving into our new place on King William Street. We had just arrived in town from Virginia – been driving all day; me pulling a trailer and Hazel driving our car. I was dog tired after a long day on the road so I walked out to the street to stretch my legs when this guy walked up and said, “Do you like good Mexican food?” “I sure do,” I replied. “The best Mexican food in San Antonio is just down the street at a place called El Mirador,” he said. When Hazel and I got around to going there to eat, I recognized this same fellow. Then he introduced himself as Julian Trevino.

Al Conner

…when the two old mansions in the 300 Block of Madison burned to the ground in the late 1980’s. Shortly before they burned, they were used as a setting for a chase scene in the 1987 movie, Nadine starring Jeff Bridges and Kim Bassinger. At first, the neighbors thought it was exciting to have the film crew working in the neighborhood but after a few days of equipment noise, bright lights and trash, many were wishing they would go back to Hollywood.

Bill Cogburn

If you live on E. Guenther, did you know that in 1880’s, your street was named Ewell? I didn’t until I was searching through the 1882 City Directory trying to locate August Biesenbach, the builder of our house.

I found him alright, but he was living at the corner of King William and Ewell Streets. By 1889, the Guenther Mill family had evidently prevailed to have the street name changed to Guenther. Also, the 1889 map shows that S. Alamo was called Mill Street and Sheridan was named Lee Street. Even earlier, in the 1870’s, Sheridan was called Chabot, named for the Chabot family who lived on the corner at Madison Street.

The 1889 map shows Vine Street running along the north side of Bonham Elementary, which is now a parking lane for the school. S. St. Mary’s was Garden Street and Durango was Victoria Street. On a 1909 map, the lower three blocks of Cedar from where it jogs near Claudia was called Henrietta and Eagleland was of course called Temple Street.

Most historians seem to agree that Ernst Altgelt gave King William Street its name in honor of the Prussian ruler, Wilhelm I. The street name was changed to Pershing during WWI, in the interest of political correctness, no doubt. In spite of what you may overhear the tour guides say, the street was never named Kaiser Wilhelm Street.

Bill Cogburn