La Villita

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La Villita Historic District
La Villita, San Antonio.jpg
La Villita Historic District is located in Texas
La Villita Historic District
La Villita Historic District
Location San Antonio, Texas
 United States
Coordinates 29°25′13″N 98°29′20″W / 29.42028°N 98.48889°W / 29.42028; -98.48889Coordinates: 29°25′13″N 98°29′20″W / 29.42028°N 98.48889°W / 29.42028; -98.48889
Built 1845
Architect Unknown
Architectural style Mission/Spanish Revival, Other
Governing body Private
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 venue, the Arneson River Theatre. It is close to the Alamo, the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Rivercenter Mall, and 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 officials led by Mayor Maury Maverick acted to preserve this part of San Antonio's history. It was an Native American 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).[2] 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.[3]

La Villita deteriorated into a slum in the early part of the 20th century. During the Great Depression, work began on the River Walk, a make-work project funded by the Works Progress Administration which came close to La Villita. The project, led by Mayor Maury Maverick, sponsored a companion effort in 1939 by the National Youth Administration 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.

During four nights of the Fiesta San Antonio each April, La Villita is host to a Night in Old San Antonio with dozens of booths grouped to offer fifteen areas for various kinds of food, such as Sauerkraut Bend, China Town, Irish Flat, and the Mexican Market. The outdoor festival, with its narrow streets decorated with paper flowers and papel picado (cut paper banners), typically attracts 85,000 celebrants,[citation needed] many wearing costumes and unusual hats. The event is a major fundraiser for the San Antonio Conservation Society.[4]

Contributing properties[edit]

Twenty-seven houses or buildings are listed as notable in the district. Some of these are also notable individual listings.[5]

La Villita Historic District Contributing Structures
Structure Name Image Address Date Built RTHL Notes
Aldrete House 323 East Nueva c1818 1966[6]
Aldrete House (rear house) 323 East Nueva c1818 1966[6]
Otto Bombach House 231 South Alamo 1847-1855 Currently Little Rhein Steak House[7][8]
Canadian House 206 South Presa
Caxias House 416 B Villita
Cos House 503 Villita Pre-1835 1965[9] Home of Martín Perfecto de Cos
Jeremiah Dashiell House 515 Villita 1962[10] Aka Casa Villita, currently leased to the Fig Tree Restaurant[11]
Diaz House 206 Arciniega
Elmendorf House 220 Arciniega c.1811 a.k.a. Elmendorf-Taylor House
Faville (Florian) House 510 Villita
German-English School 419 South Alamo 1859,1869 1962[12] 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 [13]
Jack Hays House 212 South Presa c1847 1962[14] John Coffee Hays was a Texas Ranger
Henshaw (Martinez) House 515 Villita
House 420 Villita
House 514 Villita
House Arciniega and South Alamo
Kuhn House 218 South Presa
Little Church of La Villita 418 Villita 1876 1962[15] Currently non denominational[16]
McAllister Building 301-303 South Alamo
Anton Phillip House 422 South Presa a.k.a. 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


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "La Villita San Antonio". Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Aldrete houses". Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved September 21, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Little Rhein Steak House". Little Rhein Steakhouse. Retrieved September 12, 2012. 
  8. ^ Gerem, Yves (2001). Marmac Guide to San Antonio. Pelican Publishing. p. 154. ISBN 978-1-56554-821-3. 
  9. ^ "Cos House". RTHL. Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  10. ^ "Casa Villita". Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks. Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved September 19, 2012. 
  11. ^ "The Dashiell House". Fig Tree Restaurant. Retrieved September 19, 2012. 
  12. ^ "German-English School". Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  13. ^ "Louis Gresser House". SACS. Retrieved September 21, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Jack Hays House". Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. Texas Historic Commission. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  15. ^ "Little Church of La Villita". Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  16. ^ "Little Church of La Villita". La Villita. Retrieved September 21, 2012. 

External links[edit]