KWA Newsletter Articles

At SAY Sí, success is measured by artistic growth and personal development. It is recognized when a student learns a new technique, applies it in a finished project and shares his or her skills with fellow student-artists. This unique approach to education has placed SAY Sí on the national stage, with recognition as one of the top out-of-school-time organizations in the country by the Wallace Foundation, a national philanthropy that researches and reports on exemplary out-of-school-time organizations.

I’ve been asked to write an occasional column, and as most of my neighbors know, I have a problem with that little word “no”. Just can’t seem to summon it up when desperately needed. Of course, if one is going to write a column, it probably needs to be called something. What to do?

I was ruminating on this while doing what I usually do after a long day, sitting on my second floor front porch in the rocker I inherited from the last owners of my house. While sipping a glass of wine I was looking at the downtown lights twinkling among the silhouettes of the skyline. What I’ve come to love about my house is that it makes a perfect observatory. It’s extraordinarily tall, so the second floor porch is at the elevation of a more typical third story. The front porch not only frames a wonderful view of the Tower Life Building, it also looks toward the Tower of the Americas when the leaves are off the trees across the street.

Here are some more tips from Charles Bartlett, who spoke in September at the River House about historic landscapes and water conservation.

Go native. Rather than using nandina as a specimen plant or hedgerow, use a native alternative whose berries are edible, rather than toxic to birds or pets: dwarf Barbados cherry. Asiatic jasmine isn’t bad, but the hard-to-find snake herb is a native alternative that uses less water and requires less trimming. Mountain laurel trees are slow growing but may eventually obscure historic architecture. These trees can be trimmed up to 30% for a better view.

As you find them, now is the time to plant bulbs that will bloom in the spring and that can be left in the ground to multiply over the coming years. These include narcissus, daffodils and paperwhites. Plant so that the top tips of the bulbs are about four inches below the top of the soil. Iris can be divided now. Notice how deep the plant is in the ground. Iris do not have a true bulb and the tubular base does not need to be planted very deep.

From time to time, the King William office receives a call or visit from a former resident with fond memories of living in our neighborhood. They are always encouraged to share those memories. One such former resident is Jacquie Banks who lived with her mother and grandmother on King William Street from 1943 to 1953.

Growing up in Nana’s House

By Sue Ann Jacqueline “Jacquie” Banks

In the early 1940s, my father was in the Navy so my mother and I lived with my grandmother, who owned the houses at 236 and 242 King William St. It was during WWII and San Antonio was bursting at the seams with military families and civilian workers. Nana rented out all of 242 and most of 236 except the rooms where we lived. Since mother wasn’t working, I had a great childhood with both my mother and grandmother at home all those years.

For the first time, San Antonio was ranked on Bicycling Magazine’s 2012 “America’s Top 50 Bicycle-Friendly Cities” list. The bicycling culture of King William and neighboring Southtown communities helped contribute to San Antonio’s new-found status as a bike-friendly city. What makes King William so bike-friendly? For starters, a large percentage of residents use bikes to get around our neighborhood. We have bike lanes on two of our major thoroughfares: Alamo Street and Main Avenue. Furthermore, nine B-cycle stations are located within and around our community.

The Texas Commission on the Arts awarded the King William Association a $1,500 Arts Respond grant at its September board meeting for the production of a new walking tour brochure. We are very pleased to have been awarded this competitive grant.

The KW Public Art Committee is spearheading this effort with the brochure subcommittee, whose members include Jose DeLara, chairman, Patricia Duarte, Maureen Brown and Janis DeLara. The new brochure will cover the eastern side of the historic district, and include homes that the subcommittee members have researched.

It is fundamentally important that we remember. The freedoms that make our country what it is have not come easily. Countless women and men have served our country throughout its history to uphold the values that make the United States what it is today. From the sands of Iwo Jima to the beaches of Normandy, to the jungles in the Philippines and Vietnam, and most recently in the desserts of the Middle East, members of our armed forces have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

When the U.S. Army declared the arsenal surplus property at the end of WWII, civic and business leaders saw an opportunity to negotiate to acquire the use of the buildings and grounds and to provide better connections for the south side to downtown. A proposal published in the San Antonio Light in December 1946 showed both Main and Dwyer extending through the property, together with Martinez extending east-west a bit south of today’s Cesar Chavez Blvd. Other news articles of the time showed the keen interest in these proposals:

In September the King William Association received a Special Project Canvassing Sheet from the City of San Antonio seeking approval or objection and comments on HEB’s request to close S. Main Avenue between Cesar Chavez Blvd. and Arsenal St.

Before voting on HEB’s request, board members Max Martinez, Jim Johnson and Paula Cantrell, along with other concerned neighbors and our County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, met with Todd Piland and Dya Campos, HEB’s executive vice president for real estate and public affairs officer, respectively. We went to this meeting with a list of questions and concerns regarding HEB’s proposal. HEB’s representatives answered most of our questions by stating that details were not yet available. The board members who attended this meeting reported to the full board before the vote on KWA’s response to the canvass letter was taken.

If you have been to the San Antonio Botanical Garden, you entered through a large stone building.  That is the Sullivan Carriage House that originally stood on Broadway just a few blocks north of Houston St.  It was dismantled stone by stone and rebuilt at the Garden to prevent its loss to development.  

King William also has its own stone barn that was originally built elsewhere.  At the rear of the San Antonio Conservation Society, at 107 King William St., is the Stuemke Barn built by August C. Stuemke downtown at the corner of Houston and N. Flores Sts. about 155 years ago.  It had been part of the first San Antonio lumberyard, which Mr. Stuemke owned.  In 1982 it also was rescued and moved stone by stone and rebuilt.  At the time it was one of the last early industrial buildings left downtown.  

Moving the barn was a joint project of the Conservation Society and Frost Bank.  The bank financed the dismantling and reconstruction of the barn that is now used as a meeting space and for other functions.  The pictures show the barn as it was on Houston St. in 1982 and now at its new home.

Many thanks to the SACS for the use of its files providing the details for this article and for saving another part of San Antonio history, which it does so well.

- Alan Cash

Growing up as a nomad, Jeremy moved to King William with his wife, Alexis, after several years in New Orleans. As Mark Twain noted, San Antonio is one of the four unique cities in the United States, and so Jeremy and Alexis sought an area of the city that showcased this spirit. Their search landed them in our historic neighborhood. After moving in Jeremy stopped in at the office to pay his membership dues, and right then and there Susan Rothman, Fair Coordinator, enrolled him in volunteering for the Fair. The rest, as they say, is history! Jeremy has served alongside Jack Kent as Environmental Manager, bravely handling trash and recycling for the past two King William Fairs.

The City of San Antonio preserves its unique cultural heritage by setting aside certain areas as historic districts. The King William Historic District is one of those areas. By ordinance, every resident or business within an historic district must have approval from the San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation before any construction, renovation, or alteration of a property occurs. This includes painting, landscaping (tree removal too!), fences and signs. While simple repairs may be approved administratively by OHP, many projects require review by the Historic and Design Review Committee (HDRC), an advisory commission appointed by City elected officials. OHP/HDRC approval is a mandatory first step in obtaining City building permits.

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.  

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