One has to love the history of old houses. Devine certainly has its share. The grandeur of the architecture of such homes as the former Briscoe house, the simplicity of an abandoned farm house, or the utilitarian structure of an old barn can spark the imagination of rich stories from the past. One often remarks, “If houses could talk….”
San Antonio’s King Williams neighborhood is one that evokes such thoughts. There one finds the Guenther House, one whose history is well documented for visitors to peruse. Frequently, I’ve dined there, studying its stories, and I’ve often strolled with friends and out-of-town guests down the nearby, serene Riverwalk path in that historic King William neighborhood. I’ve reflected on the stories those majestic houses could tell. I’ve observed the hundreds of years-old trees, the former carriage houses, the stone blocks used for departing carriages…. Who were the folks who lived in these homes? What became of the children…and of their children?
The story of one of those King William homes has recently been discovered. In the late 1920s, Mildred Van Treese, my grandmother, moved as a single mother with her four children from the Karnes County area to San Antonio. She settled in the King William neighborhood and enrolled her children in the Brackenridge schools. A resourceful lady, she had found a house to lease, one large enough to accommodate her family as well as several boarders she took in to provide a livelihood.
Often wondering in which house my father and his family lived, I recently discovered a December 13,1929, San Antonio Light newspaper article that described a horrific car wreck that had occurred, one in which my father was gravely injured. I had always heard details of that accident, but in this particular article, my father’s address was stated — 510 Guenther St. — Voila!
Needless to say, I’ve since driven by that house several times and imagined my dad and his siblings living there, questioned what rooms they occupied, “saw” them coming and going through the front door, visualized them walking the few blocks to school, wondered about the boarders my grandmother took in. How I wish I had asked my dad and Grandma Van Treese about all of this when I had the chance…. But at least I’ve found the house, and I think of its current residents and would like to share with them this little sliver of its history.