KWA Newsletter Articles

By the time this column appears the Fair and all of Fiesta will be history, I’ll hope that we will have made an offer to the top candidate for our new Executive Director position, and we will have passed the halfway point for this year’s presidency. From my perspective, the rest of the time I have serving King William will be focused on strengthening our ability to manage change.

Read more: President's Column: May 2012

I bought the Stieren House at 503 East Guenther Street four years ago.  Upon moving in, I read Mary V. Burkholder’s book, Down the Acequia Madre, and I learned many historical facts about the house.  It was built in 1891 by Carl Stieren, who lived here with his wife Hedwig. Carl was a lumberman and entered into business with the Meerscheidt brothers, Axel and Paul, who owned a large area spanning 33 acres, south and east of South Alamo Street. Together they sold lots and built houses in the area, developing the Meerscheidt River Subdivision where my house stands today.  

As a newcomer to the King William Historic District, I became enthralled by the history of our neighborhood and was floored when I received an intriguing letter in the mail. The letter began, “I am a relative of Axel (Alexander) Meerscheidt.”

The letter was from Neale Rabensburg of La Grange, Texas, and it contained an old photograph (above, left) of what he thought might be my house. The picture was taken in the 1890’s and was published in The Story of My Life, an autobiography by Erna Meerscheidt, Axel’s daughter.

Read more: The Meerscheidt Homestead: Gone and Almost Forgotten

When I was a young kid starting out as a writer, I had a shining goal: I was going to present Mexico and the Mexicans as they had never before been presented. Well, I did. I made the big time. I even made MGM and Book of the Month. You see, I reached my goal and passed it." -Josefina Niggli

King William has long been a home for writers and artists. Even so, it may surprise some of you to know that Josefina Niggli once lived in our neighborhood. For those who are not familiar with that name, she was an author, playwright, actor, teacher and photographer who was popular in the mid-1900’s. Fewer still may know that she lived on King William Street. Her parents, Fredrick Ferdinand “Fritz” and Goldie Morgan Niggli owned 221 King William where Josefina lived off and on for about thirty years, from the mid 1920’s to the mid 1950’s.

Josefina’s mother was a concert violinist of Irish, French and German descent. Her father’s Swiss-Alsatian forebears immigrated to Texas in 1836. In 1893 after her parents married, they moved to Mexico where Fritz managed a cement plant in Hidalgo near Monterrey.

Josefina was born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1910. When she was three, her parents moved the family to San Antonio to escape the violence of the Mexican revolution. Her father continued to manage the cement plant and traveled back and forth between Hidalgo and San Antonio. Her mother gave private violin lessons from her King William home.

Read more: Josefina Maria Niggli

Another month, another concert on the River. This time it was Henry Brun’s Latin Jazz Orchestra performing in front of the languorous bend that forms our perfect shaded amphitheater. Some of the fainthearted assumed the mercury hitting 100 degrees would mean incineration for the audience. They were very wrong: the breeze picked up just before the concert, and with the aid of whatever was in everyone’s ice buckets and coolers, the atmosphere was refreshing and the occasion was congenial.

Read more: President's Column: July 2012

For the last two years, a group of firefighters who call themselves “The Water Street Irregulars” have been busy restoring old firefighting equipment and preserving the history of firefighting in San Antonio. The former fire station has been serving as a workshop for the San Antonio Fire Museum which is scheduled to open in the near future at the old Fire Station No. 1 at 801 East Houston Street near the Alamo.

Read more: Old Fire Station No. 7

Each new day is a real gardening challenge. With little rain we may be under mandatory water use restrictions by the time this goes to press. An aquifer level of 660 feet above sea level will require watering in the garden only on specific days and during a limited time period. Watering in the morning is best. It is cooler and water soaks into the soil further and helps prevent lawn diseases from forming. Watch your local news for specifics. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, use it when there is little wind. Many systems have a fine spray that can be blown away from the soil and evaporate in the air. Also check the sprinkler heads frequently to be sure they are operating properly.

Read more: Out in the Garden: April 2009

By early March we can start saying goodbye to winter and start gardening in earnest. Hopefully 2012 will be a wetter year than 2011. I measured 19 1/8 inches of rain in my gauge on Mission St in 2011. In the months of February through May and again in August there was no measurable rain in the gauge. November and December were the wettest months with 2 1/4 and 3 1/4 inches respectively. According to the paper, San Antonio’s average annual rainfall is 27.92 inches with only 14.88 inches received in 2011.

Read more: Out in the Garden: February 2012

So far 2012 has been good in regards to moisture. My rain gauge on Mission St. has registered a total of 6 1/4 inches. At this writing, SAWS has gone back to Stage One water restrictions. This means that lawn watering with any type of sprinkler system is allowed before 10am and after 8pm during the week only based on the last digit of your street address as follows: 0 or 1, Monday, 2 or 3, Tuesday, 4 or 5, Wednesday, 6 or 7, Thursday, 8 or 9, Friday.

Read more: Out in the Garden: March 2012

Well, October was to have been one of our wettest months but that was not the case this year. The drought is still with us. As I submit this for editing on November 8, the one eighth inch of rain this morning was the only measurable amount in my gauge for the past month. Continue to conserve water but also do not give up gardening. Until about early January is the best time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials. Make holes roughly 2 to 3 times the diameter of the container and only deep enough so that the ground level is the same as that of the plant in the pot. The holes should be shaped generally as a square to prevent roots from growing in circles. Water in the new fill dirt thoroughly to eliminate air pockets. Mulch all plants whether established or newly planted to protect roots from cold weather and to maintain soil moisture. Mulch should be 3 to 5 inches deep leaving an open ring of about 6 inches around the base of the plant.

Read more: Out in the Garden: December 2011

Subcategories

Monthly column from KWA president.

Tips and resources for historic home and building preservation.

Learn the history of some of the neighborhood's historic structures.

General history and anecdotes about the King William Area.