Site of Old St. Mary’s – San Antonio, Texas

Its odd that my home is in San Antonio but I have few markers collected here. I just happened to be attending a Conference here at the beginning of August so I took some time to learn more about my city. As I was visiting downtown San Antonio, I took a short walk and came across marker after marker. I only walked about 3 blocks and collected about 5 historical markers. So I cannot wait to write about them.

This Historical Marker is located at 202 N St. Mary’s Street in Downtown San Antonio. St. Mary’s Catholic Church has been around since the mid 1800’s. The original church was damaged by flooding in 1921. In 1922 it was decided that a new church would be built.

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Photo of Original Church

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Front of St. Mary’ Church

 

This is a beautiful church. It was an incredible feeling entering this church. I had to pause a  moment to take in the beautiful sight around me. 018

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Beautiful stained glass picture windows throughout

022023024Its hard to believe but this church can seat a large number of people. The rear of the church has a  200 capacity choir loft. There is seating capacity of 1000 people in the church.025

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This bench is located next to the church.

“Homeless Jesus”, In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me, Matthew 25:40028030

St. Mary’s Gift Shop033

Historical Marker reads:

Site of Old St. Mary’s

After the Texas War for Independence, numerous immigrants, notably from Ireland, German, and the Eastern United States, arrived in San Antonio. The need to minister to these non-Hispanic Catholics prompted the Rt. Rev. John M. Odin, First Bishop of Galveston, to establish a separate church for them.

In 1852 land at this site was purchased from his heirs of Ambrocio Rodriguez, a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto. In 1855 Bishop Odin authorized a building project, undertaken by the Rev. J.M. Dubuis, who became first pastor of St. Mary’s Parish and later second Bishop of Galveston. A stately Gothic church building was constructed and opened for worship in mid-1857, serving both English and German-speaking congregations. (In 1869 St.Joseph’s Church assumed the ministry for the German Catholics.) On July 1, 1884, the oblates of Mary Immaculate accepted responsibility for St. Mary’s, with the Rev. Richard J. Maloney as first oblate Pastor.

The old church building was also the site of a seminary, an early free Parochial School, the publication of a major Catholic newspaper, and the founding of the St. Vincent De Paul Society.

The 1921 flood irreparably damaged the church building. This Neo-Romanesque structure was dedicated in 1924.

Recorded Marker Year 1985

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Scenic Loop Playground – Grey Forest, Texas

This Historical Marker is located in front of the Grey Forest Fire Department at 18515 Scenic Loop Road. Grey Forest is a quiet city far enough away from the San Antonio  and less than 20 minutes from the modern world shopping and restaurants. 076

When I read this marker I was looking for something more. I thought there was some tucked away resort only to be enjoyed by adults. From what I got out of the research, its pretty much just a rural community. 077

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Historical Marker Reads:

Scenic Loop Playground

Businessman E.N. Requa developed Scenic Loop Playground on 320 acres north of San Antonio as a rural recreational resort within easy commuting distance from the city. Requa intended the area to be used as a retreat from the stresses of modern life for middle class workers by offering recreational opportunities in a natural scenic setting along the convergence of Lee and Helotes Creeks. Natural features of the area included small lakes used as swimming pools, a lake for boating and fishing, and live oak trees draped with Spanish moss in an area known as Grey Forest. Requa set aside acreage for use by residents as bridle trails, athletic fields, tennis courts and pocket parks. Scenic Loop Road divided the development into two sections, Unit No. 1, opened for sale to the public in 1929, contained small lots to be used as campsites. One year later, Unit No. 2 opened with larger lot development, offering opportunities for the boarding of horses and other livestock. Many of the structures in the development were built from native materials. The 1929 Stock Market Crash and ensuing depression slowed Scenic Loop Playground’s rate of development. Soon, its character changed from recreational to year-round living. In 1934, Requa signed over common property in the development to the Scenic Loop Playground Club to manage for the benefit of residents. Lodges and lots continued to be sold into the 1940s. Soon, the transformation of the former recreational area into a rural community was complete, and in 1962, Scenic Loop Playground incorporated as the City of Grey Forest.

Recorded Marker Year 2007

 

B-Daddy’s Barbeque – Helotes, Texas

Before collecting my last Historical Marker in Helotes, I decided to try out a local restaurant. I came across B-Daddy’s Barbeque located at 14436 Old Bandera Rd and I am glad I did. I had never heard of B-Daddy’s Barbeque before but something about the place just caught my eye. It had a nice country feel when I walked up to the large wrap around porch.

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I walked in and was immediately welcomed by these guys. How could you not feel welcomed with these smiling faces. 102 (3)

This place was busy and I couldn’t help but notice how they served there meals. A tray is put in front of you and then a piece of butcher paper is laid on the tray. You order and your meat items are simply put on the paper. I thought that was pretty neat.

Meat Menu

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Nice Variety

Being my first time here I really didn’t know what to order. I decided to order the special which was a Loaded Baked Potato. One of the guys at the counter told me, “This is your first time here and your going with the Baked Potato”? I then asked what he recommended even though I was still taking the Potato. 103

He recommended many menu items but really stressed the Pork Chop. I decided to add a few more things to my tray.  So I started out ordering the potato and ended with the potato, thick pork chop, pulled pork, and brisket. I just had to try them all!106

I must say, the pork chop was a hit with me. It almost melted in my mouth. So full of peppery flavor I had to take an extra one to go. The pulled pork and brisket were also wonderful. Add some of B-Daddy’s Barbeque Sauce (my personal favorite was the spicy one) and you’ll come back for more. Of course I couldn’t eat everything but trust me, none of it went to waste.

107 Finally the potato, well it was HUGE and delicious. It had lots of seasoned meat and cheese on it. Its a meal all by it self.

The restaurant was clean and had everything you needed to make your meal complete.

They even sell Koozies and shirts with B-Daddy’s Logo

 

 

119After my meal I stepped out back to see the outdoor area of the restaurant. The back porch has a relaxed feeling. Makes me feel like buying a beer and kicking back on one of these chairs.

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B-Daddy’s provides live music so I may have to come back when there is a concert. If you have never been to see a live band out in country, you are really missing out on a great experience. 111

Outside bar area with plenty of seating

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So how would I rate B-Daddy’s Barbeque? The service was great, food great, the atmosphere was great.

From my own “made up” Rating Scale of  1 – 5 Historical Markers:

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A BIG 5! THANKS TO B-DADDY’S BARBEQUE FOR A GREAT EXPERIENCE099

 

Marnoch Homestead – Helotes,Texas

This Historical Marker is located at 15350 Scenic Loop Road. More than 1500 acres of land was purchased by Scottish immigrant and surgeon, Dr. George F. Marnoch in 1858. In 1859,  he had this two-and-a-half-story limestone house built by famed architect, John M. Fries. After his death, his son Gabriel, a renowned naturalist, inherited the Marnoch homestead.  Marnoch heirs sold a portion of their family land which is now known as Helotes  to Swiss American Arnold Gugger.  Gugger, in 1881, built a two-story limestone home which is also a historical site in Helotes called Gugger Homestead  

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Marker sits right inside property fence

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Front View

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Drive way entrance

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Unique features include two half-octagon bay towers on each side of the house

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In 1914, an existing stone kitchen behind the house was dismantled and rebuilt as a rear addition with the original materials.

Historical Marker Reads:

Marnoch Homestead

Scottish surgeon Dr. George Frederick Marnoch (1802-1870) purchased more than 1500 acres at this site in the fall of 1858. In January 1859, Marnoch commissioned famed San Antonio architect and builder John M. Fries to construct this house near Helotes Creek. Previously, Fries had designed the Menger Hotel and City Market House in San Antonio. Dr. Marnoch and his wife Elizabeth (Wilson) reared six children. Besides practicing medicine in the Helotes area, Dr. Marnoch also raised livestock. Upon his death, the Marnoch property passed to his children. George Marnoch’s eldest son, Gabriel Wilson Marnoch (1838-1920), was also closely associated with the homestead. Gabriel, like his father, practiced medicine, and was a noted naturalist and rancher. He was a founding member of the Scientific Society of San Antonio, an early observer of the Balcones Escarpment, and also discovered two amphibian and two reptile species in the Helotes Hills. Gabriel served as postmaster of Helotes from 1904 until 1919. The homestead remained in the Marnoch family until 1947. The two-story rectangular plan house is of rough coursed limestone construction, with blocks about eighteen inches thick, and a hipped roof with gabled dormers and stone chimneys. Unique features include two half-octagon bay towers on each side of the house. Both floors contain a central hall and stairwell flanked by single rooms. Additional details include keystone arches and stone lintels above doors and windows, and pine floors and interior woodwork. In 1914, an existing stone kitchen behind the house was dismantled and rebuilt as a rear addition with the original materials.

Recorded Marker Year 2010

John T. Floore Country Store – Helotes, Texas

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This Historical Marker is located at 14492 Old Bandera Road right next to the Gugger Homestead. This is a pretty popular spot in Helotes. By the name, you may be wondering what the big deal is? In 1946, John T. Floore built a store and dance hall at this site, offering “bar, café, dance, meats, groceries, real estate and every thing nearly.”  Today, its known for its world famous tamales, sausage, and homemade bread. Floore”s Country Store offers a full menu of great “Texas Cafe” style food, ice cold beer and the atmosphere, well you have to come out and truly experience that for yourself.

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  Inside of this dance hall there are boots, cowboy hats, and other interesting things hanging from the ceiling. Its said that a pair of John Waynes boots are hanging here. There is a small stage inside but larger shows are held outside. Many famous country artist have performed here, as a matter of fact, Floore Country Store is considered the Musical Birthplace of Willie Nelson.

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The outdoor area of FLoore’s has lots of room for large crowds. They have VIP sections and standing area. Plenty of bar areas and beer tubs scattered around makes it easy to purchase your favorite beverage.

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VIP Section

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Outdoor Stage

This is a pretty good size stage. I have never been to a concert here but do plan on attending one soon.040

Here are some of  the upcoming events at Floore Country Store. Willie Nelson is set to perform in October 2017. I may have to get tickets to this one!054

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Not a good idea to fight

Heading back inside, you wont be able to miss all the history on the walls. Many legendary performers have performed here. You can see pictures of them throughout the dance hall. Willie Nelson, Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Dwight Yoakam, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, B.B. King, Little Richard and many more artist are listed as past performers.

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Robert Earl Keen Guitar displayed on wall.

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And of course Floore’s would have a BBQ Pit sitting right out front. The smell of fresh BBQ Brisket, Turkey, Pork, and Sausage will make you want to try all their food.  If you ever stop by do not leave without trying the tamales. Trust me!

058059Historical Marker Reads:

John T. Floore Country Store

In 1945, as the Second World War drew to a close, John T. Floore, manager of San Antonio’s Majestic Theatre, purchased land in this vicinity. He created the Floore Subdivision, planning it as a center for the community of Helotes, which had developed at the site of a centuries-old stream crossing for travelers. Floore and his wife originally operated a Red and White Store. Following the example of Bert Hileman, who owned an early dance hall in Helotes, Floore built a store and dance hall at this site circa 1946, offering “bar, café, dance, meats, groceries, real estate and every thing nearly at Floore Country Store.” A noted promoter, Floore featured country music acts big and small; notables included Bob Wills, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Kitty Wells and Elvis Presley. Residents came from nearby communities for the regular shows. Floore also promoted the Helotes community, helping establish the local volunteer fire department and Lions Club. In addition, he edited the Helotes Echo newspaper, and his articles were said to be instrumental in the creation of the Northside Independent School District for Helotes-area students. His business establishment served as a gathering place for several organizations and events, including the annual Helotes Cornyval Festival. Since Floore’s death in 1975, his legacy has continued. Helotes incorporated in 1981 in order to preserve a separate identity from the ever-growing city of San Antonio. With the continuation of musical acts at Floore’s County Store, and through the local organizations that grew out of Floore’s ideas and civic efforts, the community of Helotes maintains a link to its early years as a stop for refreshment and entertainment at the edge of the Texas Hill Country.

Recorded Marker Year 2005

Gugger Homestead – Helotes, Texas

This Historical Marker is located in Old Town Helotes. Arnold Gugger built this home in 1881. He married Amilia “Mollie” Benke and they raised six children here. He also provided a mercantile store, blacksmith shop, saloon and post office where he served as postmaster. He sold the land to Bert Hielman in 1908. The current owner is Mr. Hank Cunningham.

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The Helotes (read more here) and Gugger Historical Marker stand side by side in front of the Gugger Homestead.

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Gugger Homestead is now home to Helotes Bicycle. It was a privilege to speak to Mr. Hank Cunningham, the owner of the property and Helotes Bicycle. Mr Cunningham lived in this home for 30 years so he had some great stories to tell of people who had lived in this home in the past. He told me a story of 2 sisters, in their 90s, that paid him a visit years ago. They had grown up in the home.  One sister told the other of the exact location in the house where she was born.

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Helotes Bicycle

Mr Cunningham also mentioned finding marbles buried in the dirt. He was even given the opportunity to give them back to the owner which had gone back to visit the house. These are the kind of stories I love to hear. Its so nice to be able to speak to someone who can tell you the history of a location. I would highly recommend visiting Helotes Bicycle and taking the time to hear some of the stories Mr. Cunningham has to tell.

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18 inch walls – Front of the home

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Back of the home

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Historical Marker Reads:

Gugger Homestead

Arnold Gugger, son of Swiss-born Helotes pioneers Anton and Marie Gugger, built this house and store circa 1881. Its site on the east bank of Helotes Creek was ideal for Gugger’s blacksmith shop, general store and saloon, and Arnold and wife Amalia “Mollie” (Benke) raised their six children on the second floor. The Guggers sold the property to Wilbert Hileman in 1908, and it has subsequently changed hands several times. The home has served as the Helotes post office twice, under postmasters Arnold Gugger (1888-1904) and Blanche Maltsberger (1944-1953). The two-story limestone building features 18-inch thick rough-course walls. An L-shaped wood porch extends around the front and side of both stories.

Recorded Historical Marker Year 2008

Helotes – Helotes, Texas

The Helotes Historical Marker is located at 14464 Old Bandera Rd, right next door to Floore’s Country Store. The Gugger Homestead Historical Marker is also located in this very spot. Helotes is located approximately 20 miles Northwest of downtown San Antonio. The Helotes name actually means “corn-on-the-cob,” in Spanish.  Corn has played a great part in the heritage of Helotes. In 2013, Bloomberg BusinessWeek named Helotes as the Best Small Town in Texas to Raise Kids.  008

Downtown Helotes is known as Old Town Helotes and attracts people from all places. This is a great place to spend a day shopping and eating great BBQ.064

When you enter Helotes you will come across a Bed and Breakfast, Winery, and various shops to stop at. 070

 

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One of the most famous places to stop is Floore’s Country Store. This is were Willie Nelson and other famous country singers still perform.

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Recorded Historical Marker Reads:

Helotes

According to archeologists, human occupation of the Helotes area dates to about 7000 years before present, when small bands of Nomadic Indians who migrated sesonally in search of food and game camped in this vicinity.

Early Texas Pioneer John M. Ross acquired title to the land here in 1836, purchasing rights to a republic of Texas land grant from Almazon Huston, Quartermaster general of the Republic of Texas Army. In 1852 Ross sold the property to Thomas Devine and Francise Giraud, who formed a partnership to survey to land and sell it in smaller plots. In 1858 Dr. George Frederick Marnoch purchased the land which later became the townsite of Helotes.

The town of Helotes developed around the home and Mercantile Store of Arnold Gugger, who purchased property from Marnoch’s heirs in 1880. Gugger became postmaster in 1888, and in 1908 sold his land to Bert Hielman, who opened the Town’s first dance hall.

Many farms and cattle and sheep ranches were established in the area. Helotes became a popular stop for a cowboys driving cattle to auction in San Antonio. Many descendants of early settlers still live in the area.

Recorded Historical Marker Year 1992