Guenther House (San Antonio)
Carl Hilmar Guenther House
|Location||Bexar County, Texas|
|Part of||King William Historic District (#72001349)|
|NRHP Reference #||90001539|
|Added to NRHP||October 11, 1990|
The Guenther House is a restaurant, museum and store located at 205 E. Guenther Street in the Bexar County city of San Antonio in the U.S. state of Texas. Currently operated by C. H. Guenther and Son. Inc., the home was originally built as a private residence in 1859 by Pioneer Flour Mills founder Carl Hilmar Guenther. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Bexar County, Texas in 1972 as a contributing structure of the King William Historic District. On October 11, 1990, it received an individual NRHP listing in addition to its 1972 contributing property listing.
C.H.Guenther personal life and background
Carl Hilmar Guenther (1826–1902).was one of eight children born to millwright Carl Gottfried Guenther and his wife Johanne Rosina Koerner Guenther on March 19, 1826 in Weißenfels, Germany. Like his father, he had been trained to be a millwright, and in 1844 became a member of the guild of master millwrights in Europe. He also had trade skills as a cabinet maker and stonemason. In 1848, Guenther traveled to the United States. Guenther declared his intention to become a United States citizen on June 28, 1851. Citizenship was granted to him on October 8, 1854. He became a Justice of the Peace in 1856. On October 7, 1855, Guenther married Dorothea Pape. The couple had seven children. Guenther died on October 18, 1902, in San Antonio and was buried beside his wife in San Antonio City Cemetery No. 1.
Emigration to Texas
Guenther's first visit to the United States was in 1848 through the port of New York with a sojourn in Wisconsin before returning to Germany. Three years later, Guenther returned through Indianola, Texas, at the time a major entry port for German immigrants.
He relocated southwest of Fredericksburg at Live Oak Creek, near the present site of Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park, and began constructing his dream of a gristmill. His steam-operated mill was built with imported French millstones. Inclement weather conditions came close to washing away the unfinished mill in a flood. Nevertheless, Guenther persevered and completed what would become known as Pioneer Flour Mills, a wheat and corn operation that served the area residents of Gillespie County.
Recurring periods of alternating floods and drought prompted Guenther in 1859 to reassess his situation. After seeing the need for mills to serve San Antonio's growing population, Guenther made the decision to move his base of operations there  The site for his new mill would be on land directly adjacent to what became known as the King William Historic District.
King William District home
Guenther's home was one of the first built in the King William District. He began construction of his vernacular native limestone home in the district at King William and Guenther streets. The stones were quarried in the area that now is Brackenridge Park, and wood used in the construction was East Texas pine. The original entrance to the house faced southward towards the mill. A 1915 expansion of the house, changed the entrance to the north side, fronting the San Antonio River. The original entrance now serves as a hallway between the museum and the River Mill Store part of the house. The top floor of the house is known as the Roof Garden and once hosted dances. The space is currently used for large meetings or luncheons. The south side of the house now has a patio and arbor for outdoor dining.
An area of the house that once served as the library, is now the museum containing family keepsakes, as well as artifacts of milling, dining and baking history in San Antonio. Travel souvenirs from around the world are also part of the museum. The museum, store and restaurant are open to the public 7 days a week.
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