Apr 152015
King William District bandstand
Walking tour of the historic King William District in San Antonio, Texas highlights heritage homes and a diverse collection of architecture

San Antonio’s King William District, just south of downtown, is an area of tree-lined streets and heritage houses. I enjoyed walking through the area, viewing the architecture and reading home history written on plaques mounted in front of heritage-designated homes.

King William District home

The King William neighbourhood is located on the former farmlands of the Mission San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo). When the Spanish government secularized the mission in 1793, the fertile lands were distributed to local residents. Farming continued until the mid-1800s when the land was subdivided. Houses were built beginning in the 1850s. The area received its name around 1866 when Ernst and Emma Altgelt built their house on an unnamed street they called “King William” after Wilhelm I of Prussia.

The largely German neighbourhood grew and diversified as San Antonio’s population increased over the following decades. Today, the area encompasses the most diverse and intact collection of architecture in San Antonio.

The neighbourhood became San Antonio’s first designated historic district in 1968. In 1972, King William was listed as a U.S. National Register Historic District. The district was expanded in 1984 to include an area of more modest late 19th and early 20th century homes.

Oge House

The Oge House
An early stone residence. First floor and basement were built as early as 1857.
It was owned by attorney Newton Mitchell and his wife Catherine. It was bought by businessman Louis Oge in 1881.

Gustav Blersch House

Gustav Blersch House
One of three standing Antebellum structures in the King William Historic District.
This limestone house was built for German immigrant, importer and retail dealer, Gustav Blersch.

King William District roof

A sample of one of the many metal roofs in the district

Villa Finale

Norton-Polk-Mathis HouseBuilding of this house began in 1876. It grew over the years with additions of a second story, a Victorian gingerbread rear gallery and Italian Renaissance Revival tower.
it is now a National Trust Historic Site (Villa Finale) and can be toured.

A few of the homes have been turned into museums with period furnishings. Unfortunately, my stroll through the King William Historic District was on an Easter Sunday and the houses were closed.

Edward Steeves Homestead

Edward Steeves Homestead
This home was built in 1876 for Edward Steeves, founder of Steeves lumber Company. The ashlar limestone structure features a concave mansard roof with decorative iron cresting and exhibits characteristic of the French Second Empire and Italian Villa styles.
It is now owned by the San Antonio Conservation Society and can be toured.

Wulff House

The Wulff House, built by German immigrant Anton Wulff around 1860, features ashlar limestone walls, a distinctive tower room and a raised basement.
It is now owned by the San Antonio Conservation Society and can be toured.

Guenther House

Guenther House

Guenther House was the home of C.H. Guenther. In 1859 he sold his flour mill in Fredericksburg, Texas and built a larger mill in San Antonio. Today the building houses a restaurant, a venue popular for wedding and other events, and a small museum.

Inside Guenther House

Inside Guenther House

Hugman House

A two-story craftsman style house built in the 1920s

King William District house

King William District house

You can wander through the King William Historic District on your own. Many heritage houses have plaques with information. Or you can download a printable brochure from the San Antonio Conservation Society to guide you.

PIN ITSan Antonio's King William District has many heritage homes


  18 Responses to “Heritage Homes in San Antonio”

  1. I loved taking this tour! The King William district is so lovely and I lo=ve that these areas preserve so much of their history so that we can enjoy it. Interesting that there was so much German influence!

    • Jacquie – I love areas like this. Apparently, there was a strong German influence in around this area from immigration in the late 1800s.

  2. Heritage walking tours are one of my favorite things. I’m not surprised at the German influence, because isn’t Fredericksburg fairly close? The variety of architectural styles really makes for an interesting post and your photos are great! Thanks for taking us along.

  3. Thanks for this. I lived in Texas for 2 years 10 years ago but never found out about such beautiful architecture. They are fascinating, but maybe it is because I really do not like large homes. That is why I like Gustav’s place. . Are you now back in Winnipeg? Is it still cold?

    • Carol, I can’t imagine myself looking after a large home but it is fun to look at the beautiful large old homes. We’re one the road and should be back in Canada tomorrow.

  4. I love beautiful architecture and the heritage walking tours, would have given so much information

  5. I’m not familiar with this part of San Antonio. What gracious homes! Reminds me of Savannah~

    • I’ve not been to Savannah (although I would like to some day), but some of the homes in this area were definitely a southern style.

  6. We missed this part of San Antonio when we were there. We’ll be sure to check it out next time. Thanks for the tip!

    • I likely wouldn’t haven’t found this area either if it hadn’t been for a friend who spends part of the year in San Antonio.

  7. I have been to San Antonio several times and didn’t know about these gems. I will certainly investigate the next time I am there. Great post and awesome photos!

  8. Thanks Donna, you’ve done it again! You’ve revived my memories of another part of San Antonio. We even have a photo of the Edward Steeves Homestead on our website report from that time. San Antonio was the last American city we spent time in before going to Mexico in January 2007. It’s a long time ago and I just love having my memories revived.

    • Yasha, I’m glad this brought back nice memories. San Antonio is a beautiful city – great way to end your American tour.

  9. I love visiting San Antonio – it is so different than Austin but only an hour to drive there. King William historic district is a wonderful area. When I bring anyone else for a visit to San Antonio I always take them to see The Alamo, Riverwalk, and King William district, and stop for some tasty Tex-Mex!

    • Susan, that would also be my first choice for anyone new to San Antonio. I would like to get to Austin someday too.

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