Longtime King William neighbors may remember the elderly lady who lived in the derelict two-story house at 203 Madison until the 1970s. A bit of research reveals that she was Anita McLean, granddaughter of Johann William Schuwirth, the original owner and builder of the house. As you can see from the before and after photos, one should never doubt that these old historic houses can be restored.
Johann William Schuwirth was born in Brachelm, Germany in 1829. Educated to be a teacher, he was 28 years old when he immigrated to San Antonio in 1857. Soon after his arrival, he joined the staff at the German-English School located on S. Alamo near La Villita (currently the Marriott Plaza). After a few years, he established his own private school where he taught arithmetic, singing, German and writing.
In 1863, Schuwirth married Anna Catherine (Katrina) Huppertz. Anna was born in Willich Germany in 1843. She was a teenager when she came to San Antonio with her family in 1856.
On November 15, 1870, Schuwirth purchased lots 11, 12 & 13, Blk 3; NCB 740, from Malvina A. Nelson for $1,150. These three lots are on the NW side of Madison Street at Turner. About 1878, he contracted for a two-story house to be built on the corner (lot 11, Blk 3, NCB 740) which was numbered 203 Madison. When Johann and Anna moved into their new home, they had three children, all born in San Antonio: Charles M. (1864), Amelia E. (1866) and William G. (1867).
After a long successful career as a leading educator, Schuwirth died in 1902 at age 73. Anna continued to live in their Madison St. house until she died in 1931 at age 87. City directories show that beginning in 1910, her daughter, Amelia, and her husband, John Zadich, were also living in the home. After John died in 1926, Amelia continued to live there, caring for her aging mother.
When Anna Schuwirth died, Amelia inherited the house and continued to live there until she died in 1940 at age 74. John and Amelia Zadich had no children, which may account for the ownership of the house being conveyed to Amelia’s niece, Anita Schuwirth McLean, and nephew, W. C. Schuwirth (daughter and son of Charles M. Schuwirth and his first wife, Louisa). The conveyance record reads, “From estate of Amelia Zadich to W. C. Schuwirth and Anita McLean, wife of Harold, $10 and lot 11 and north half of lot 12, Blk 3, NCB 740 and all improvements thereon”. Anita McLean bought her brother’s half interest in order to have full ownership of the property so she and her husband Harold could make 203 Madison their home.
City directories show that Harold and Anita McLean began living at 203 Madison in 1942, the year after they inherited it. After Harold’s death Anita continued to live in the house until she died in the mid-1970s.
The house, which leaned precariously, sat vacant and deteriorating for years until the neighbors began referring to it as “the haunted house.” In the late 1990s it was purchased and restored by Marc Lunardon from France. The most recent owners were Douglas and Letty McCardle.
- Bill Cogburn
Sources: SAPL Archives, The King William Area – A Guide to the Houses by Mary Burkholder, City of SA Archives.