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.
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.
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.
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.
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.