The mid-1970s, I was an idealistic college student who revered history, antiques and the quiet magnificence of historic homes. Since my childhood, my family had often driven through the King William neighborhood to admire its stately mansions and pay tribute to the gingerbread-laced Victorian homes and cozy Craftsman bungalows that populated the landscape of a bygone era. Though many houses were in various states of disrepair, they all stood proud - undaunted by 20th century progress. These homes fascinated me and instilled in me an appreciation for their timeless beauty.
When my father - who perused the Sunday edition of the San Antonio Light from its opening headline to the final word on the final page - would spy an ad for a King William home that was up for sale, he would declare an impromptu family jaunt to the familiar surrounds for a first-hand look-see, whereupon my family would pile into our Plymouth which would transport us back in time.
On one such occasion circa the mid-70s, the striking, Corinthian-columned residence at 338 Madison Street was listed for the (then) princely sum of $92,000. From St. Mary's, Dad made a left turn onto Madison, and within the span of a minute, there she stood before us - a bit weathered and careworn, but none-the-less, a magnificent vision to behold. We were excited at having the opportunity to get an “insider's” view.
When we entered the house, the talkative realtor was chatting up an interested couple, so, relieved to be left alone, we proceeded to explore the spacious interior. The grande dame was bare of furnishings, but her good bones were in full view. Fine, solid woodwork could be admired at every glance. The balustrade that framed the staircase reflected the artistry of a skilled European-trained craftsman's handiwork.
Upon our departure, each member of my family quietly fantasized that we were leaving “our” residence; we would often engage in such day-dreaming when visions of an open house danced in our heads.
Fast-forward to the present… For over a decade, I have been the proud owner of a wonderful home in the King William neighborhood. So sometimes, a time traveler’s dream does come true.
The history from the KWA files on 338 Madison says that the home was built circa 1900 in the Neo-Classical style with oak floors inlaid with walnut. Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Berman were the original owners. In 1928-29 the house was converted to a nursing home, and in the 1970s the house was restored back to a single-family residence.
- Travis M.