La Villita Historic District
|Location||San Antonio, Texas
|Architectural style||Mission/Spanish Revival, Other|
|NRHP Reference #||
|Added to NRHP||January 20, 1972|
La Villita Historic Arts Village is an art community in Downtown San Antonio, Texas, United States. There are art galleries, stores selling souvenirs, gifts, custom jewelry, pottery, and imported Mexican folk art, as well as several restaurants in the district. La Villita connects to the San Antonio River Walk and its outdoor Arneson River Theatre. It is close to The Alamo, the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, the Rivercenter Mall, and the HemisFair Park. It is within walking distance of most downtown hotels.
Located on the south bank of the San Antonio River, La Villita was one of San Antonio's first neighborhoods. In 1939, as ground broke on the San Antonio River Walk development, city official led by Mayor Maury Maverick acted to preserve this part of San Antonio's history. It was an American Indian settlement and then a collection of primitive brush huts, called jacales, for the Spanish soldiers (and their Indian wives and children) stationed nearby at the Mission San Antonio de Valero (an active mission from about 1718 to 1793, now better known as The Alamo). After a flood in 1819 washed away most of the huts, more substantial adobe houses replaced them.
Late in the 19th century, European immigrants from Germany, France, and Italy moved into the area and soon became active in business and trades: retailers, bankers, educators, and craftsmen. The variety of architectural styles seen in La Villita's buildings reflects the cultural mix, from the one-room homes of the poor to the larger houses of the prosperous.
La Villita declined into a slum in the early part of the 20th century. During the Great Depression, work began on the River Walk, a makework project funded by the Works Progress Administration that passed close to La Villita. The project, led by Mayor Maury Maverick, sponsored a companion effort by the National Youth Administration in 1939 to restore and preserve this colorful part of San Antonio's history. The NYA offered classes in arts and crafts as part of its program.
Today La Villita is an arts community, and is included in the National Register of Historic Places listings in Bexar County, Texas. The galleries and shops found in one city block offer art by local and regional artists featuring oil paintings, sculptures, watercolors, metal art, rock art, textiles, copperwares, pottery, jewelry, stained glass and regional folk art.
The four-block area has food and drink outlets, and over four nights during Fiesta San Antonio each April, La Villita is host to a Night in Old San Antonio with dozens of booths grouped to offer foods in 15 areas, such as Sauerkraut Bend, China Town, Irish Flat and the Mexican Market. The outdoor festival, with the narrow streets decorated with paper flowers and papel picado (cut paper banners), typically attracts 85,000 celebrants, many wearing costumes and unusual hats. The event is a major fundraiser for the San Antonio Conservation Society.
Twenty-seven houses or buildings are listed as notable in the district. Some of these are also notable individual listings.
|Structure Name||Image||Address||Date Built||RTHL||Notes|
|Aldrete House||323 East Nueva||c1818||1966|
|Aldrete House (rear house)||323 East Nueva||c1818||1966|
|Otto Bombach House||231 South Alamo||1847-1855||Currently Little Rhein Steak House|
|Canadian House||206 South Presa|
|Caxias House||416 B Villita|
|Cos House||503 Villita||Pre-1835||1965||Home of Martín Perfecto de Cos|
|Jeremiah Dashiell House||515 Villita||1962||Aka Casa Villita, currently leased to the Fig Tree Restaurant|
|Diaz House||206 Arciniega|
|Elmendorf House||220 Arciniega||c.1811||aka Elmendorf-Taylor House|
|Faville (Florian) House||510 Villita|
|German-English School||419 South Alamo||1859,1869||1962||Consists of two buildings erected a decade apart|
|Gissi House||Plaza Nueva||c1854, rebuilt 1969|
|Louis Gresser House||225 South Presa||Owned by the San Antonio Conservation Society |
|Jack Hays House||212 South Presa||c1847||1962||John Coffee Hays was a Texas Ranger|
|Henshaw (Martinez) House||515 Villita|
|House||Arciniega and South Alamo|
|Kuhn House||218 South Presa|
|Little Church of La Villita||418 Villita||1876||1962||Currently non denominational|
|McAllister Building||301-303 South Alamo|
|Anton Phillip House||422 South Presa||aka Staffer House|
|William Richter House||419 South Presa||c1868|
|San Martin House||416 A South Presa|
|Walter C. Tynan House||401 South Presa||mid-1880s|
|Yturri House||327 South Presa|
|Manuel Yturri House||325 South Presa|
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- "La Villita San Antonio". Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
- "Aldrete houses". Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
- "Little Rhein Steak House". Little Rhein Steakhouse. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- Gerem, Yves (2001). Marmac Guide to San Antonio. Pelican Publishing. p. 154. ISBN 978-1-56554-821-3.
- "Cos House". RTHL. Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
- "Casa Villita". Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks. Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- "The Dashiell House". Fig Tree Restaurant. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- "German-English School". Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
- "Louis Gresser House". SACS. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
- "Jack Hays House". Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. Texas Historic Commission. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
- "Little Church of La Villita". Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
- "Little Church of La Villita". La Villita. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
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