C. A. Stieren emigrated from Germany in 1860, first settling in New Braunfels where he met and married Hedwig Remer. Soon, the couple moved to Gonzales where they opened a mercantile store. By the time they moved to San Antonio in 1890, the family had grown to include seven children.
In San Antonio, Stieren joined Axel and Paul Meerscheidt in the real estate business. He built the house at 503 E. Guenther in 1891 where his family lived until 1902. The house has had several owners through the years, but one that many neighbors will still remember are Craig and Lola Austin who owned the house from 1988 to 2004. They were famous for hosting great parties and participating in neighborhood activities.
Craig served as KWA board president in the mid-1990s. Lola Austin and her next-door neighbor, Lynn Dickey, who lived at 427 E. Guenther, served as Fair co-chairs in 1992, memorable as the year that the Fair almost didn’t happen. Just before the parade stepped off, the sky turned dark, thunder clapped, and rain began to pour. We were all sure that the Fair was ruined.
The parade marshal delayed the parade hoping for a break in the rain. While they waited, Lola and Lynn raced home and put on their swimsuits. When they returned, it was still raining but it had slacked off somewhat so they perched themselves on the back of vintage convertibles hamming it up like 1940s bathing beauties. They had a great time laughing and flirting shamelessly along the parade route doing their best to keep the fairgoers' spirits up while trying to put the best face on a Fair that was threatening to be a total disaster.
When the parade ended, the rain stopped, the skies cleared, the sun came out and except for a few puddles we had another great Fair. The next year, Lola was the Fair parade chair and was dubbed “Rain Queen” in honor of the drenched parade the year before.
The next owners of the house were Scott and Diana Cano who lived there from 2004 to 2008. They had the vision to see what could be achieved by removing the 1950s siding and exposing and restoring the beautiful porches. Belinda Molina Yndo has owned the house since 2008.
- Bill Cogburn
Source: Mary Burkholder’s, Down the Acequia Madre; King William archives; 1970s photo courtesy Graham Knight; current photo by Bill Cogburn.