Arneson River Theater
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The open-air venue was erected 1939-1941 by the Works Progress Administration. The design was supervised by architect Robert H.H. Hugman. It is named after Edwin Arneson, the regional engineer for the W.P.A. who was instrumental in securing funding for the Paseo del Rio. Arneson died before construction began. Many years later bells were added to arches behind the stage that Hugman had designed, and they were named for him. In a belated ceremony, the "Father of the River Walk" struck the bells for the first time, two years before his death.
The stage is on the north side of river; the audience sits on the grass-covered steps on the south side, which can hold over 800 people on 13 rows of seats. A nearby stone bridge is often made part of the performance space. It is now called Rosita's Bridge in honor of Rosita Fernandez, a pioneer of Tejano music, who performed here as star of the summer-long Fiesta Noche del Rio for almost 25 years. Nowadays the theater is used for folkloric groups, music concerts, plays, dance, and even opera.
Above and behind the seating area is La Villita, a restoration of San Antonio's oldest residential neighborhood, today filled with shops and galleries.
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- oral history interview digital.utsa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15125coll4/id/1295, p 9-10
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