King William Historic District
To get a sense of what San Antonio’s high society was like at the turn of the previous century, take a walking tour through the King William Historic District (located just south of downtown on the east side of the San Antonio River). Stately and ornate Victorian, Greek Revival, and Italianate homes stand on pleasant tree-lined streets in this 25-square-block area, one of the first Texas neighborhoods to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Even on a hot day, it’s worth taking a walking tour of the neighborhood (the enormous trees provide a shady canopy over most streets), guided by a handy brochure available at the San Antonio Conservation Society’s headquarters at the northern edge of the neighborhood (107 King William St., 210/224-6163, www.saconservation.org, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri.).
Although a majority of the district’s homes are privately owned or renovated as bed-and-breakfasts, two significant sites are open to the public for tours. The 1859 Guenther House (205 E. Guenther St., 210/227-1061, www.guentherhouse.com, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Sun.) is the outstanding home of the family that founded Pioneer Flour Mills—you can’t miss the gigantic factory behind it with “Pioneer” on the tower. The house features a small yet informative museum of milling history and a popular restaurant.
A block north is Steves Homestead (509 King William St., 210/225-5924, 10 a.m.–4:15 p.m. daily, $5 12 and older), a stunning three-story 1876 mansion. Guided tours showcase the home’s ornate furnishings as well as the carriage house, servants’ quarters, and the city’s first indoor swimming pool.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition