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San Antonio light and gazette. [volume] (San Antonio, Tex.) 1909-1911, August 29, 1909, Image 19

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86090238/1909-08-29/ed-1/seq-19/

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Home Building Continues to Be Marked Feature—-Some Big Structures Show Remarkable Progress
Many Adobe and Other Pic
turesque Structures Have
Been Razed In San Antonio.
'‘What can be done to make this
or that ramshackle old building get
to work and justify its existence
by earning a comfortable yearly in
come” is a question that indi
viduals put to one another and
trustees mutter tinder their breath
every day in the year.
Month in and month out they
have collected the meagre rental
it produces as a dilapidated dwell
ing, an antiquated hotel, a board
ing house or makeshift business
building. Each day has witnessed
improved structures, better transit
facilities and increased transient
traffic in the immediate vicinity,
but still they stand in some of the
best and most tempting locations to
be had in the city—these constant
reminders of an age now past in
which they gloried and were glori
Why They Remain the Same.
It is sometimes a pretty or personally
sacred sentiment that keeps these old
buildings together in their original
form. Again, the individual or estate
owner may got be in a position to alter
the building to its best and most profit
able uses or in accordance with the sug
gestions of some able adviser. Reasons
a-plenty are probably hidden behind the
doors of many an old structure that
might otherwise be altered suitably and
at inconsiderable expense in such a
manner that it Would thenceforth pro
duce at least as fair a return upon its
value as ahy other standard form of
security and far better than it had in
its former condition.
Uncertainty in the minds of owners as
to the greater advisability of holding or
selling—holding and awaiting higher
values and increased unearned incre
ment or selling at the market and re
investing in some other property or
form of security—is doubtless one of
the determining reasons for t%e appear
ance of many old structures in the
midst of scenes of activity and progres
Old Buildings in San Antonio.
There are many of this class of build
ings in San Antonio, •All old cities«arc
afflicted with them. No general rule
could be prescribed applying to struc
tures of this sort for their .betterment.
Tn view of San Antonio's widespread
movement for upbuilding and progress,
the most general remedy to he express
ed would probably be the laconic phase,
‘‘tear ’em down and build up new
ones.” There are many situations with
in the city where this would apply. This
plan was put to use on Soledad street
ouly a few months ago when the old
Veramendi building, despite its historic
significance was put to the figurative
torch and razed to make way for a mod
ern structure.
Old adobe buildings by the score
have passed away during the last few
• years in San Antonio. In scores of
cases both residence and business struc
tures of this sort have gone down and
from within the wreckage grew up a
splendid building.
The cases in which this is not prac-
The dower Building, Up 10 Stones, the Highest Building in San
Antonio, Is Receiving Its Brick Casing at the Bate of One third of a
Story a Day.
The Texas Steam Laundry Is
Planning to Construct a
Handsome Home.
Will Be Three Stories High
and to Be Completed In
Early Part of 1910.
Losoya street is to be made the scene
of building improvement during the
present season if the plans of the Tejas
Steam Laundry company for the cou
struction of a building as additional
space for its purposes mature.
The Pendleton building at 209 1-2
Losoya street, next door to the present
place of business of the laundry, is to
be torn down and a modern building,
three stories in height, will be con
structed on the site.
Plans have not yet been completed.
It is expected, however, the contract
will be let next month and the build
ing completed 1a’ the first of next year.
The structure will cost in the neigh
borhood of $20,000.
tieal, however, are many. Numbers of
people possess property on which stands
an old building, which wise counsel
l<»ad« them to believe it would not pay
to tear away. Modernizing these old
structures is an art calling fo.- the .best
talents of the architect and builder. In
some eases it is accomplished only with
out great expense and it is only a well
constructed structure which is able to
stand this.
Widening of Commerce Street.
Along Commerce street during the
next year will be witnessed the most im
portant work of this sort San Antonio
has ever seen, if the plan to widen that
avenue of trade is carried through.
Plans are under way for the putting in
of handsome fronts aud otherwise re
modeling any number of buildings on
this street, which work is to be done
coim-ideutal with the'work of widen
Doubtless fully 10 buildings on this
one street will be made bigger, oetrer
and for more presentable during the
time that widening is in progress.
The meet conspicuous example of tear
ing away an old building to make room
for a new that the city is likely to see
for some years to come is to take place
next year when, according to present
plans, the present Maveru-k bank budd
ing at Houston street and Alamo plaza
•s to be torn down and on the site is to
be erected a magnificent twelve-story
building. January, 1911 is the date
now set for the completion of this.
Most Valuable Home
in San Antonio Is the
Old Herff Homestead
Land Bought in 1854 for $1050 Now Worth
at Least $125,000, Say Houston St.
Realty Experts.
Without doubt the most valuable
piece of residence property in San An
tonio, aud probably one of the most
valuable in Texas, is the old Horlt
homestead at 308 Houston street, for
over half a century the home of the
venerable Dr. Ferdinand Herff, and
where his sons, who are among the lead
ing citizens of the city, grew to mau
It is a rather unique fact that, while
Houston street has grown from a mere
byway into the leading commercial ave
nue of the city, this old residence tract
has remained unchanged and that it
stands today the same as it did fifty
years ago, a homesite in the very cen
ter of the city, aronnd which tall sky
scrapers have grown up and in .front
of whose doors is the clang of the
trolley and the noise and bustle of
The old residence has stood for ap
proximately 56 years. It was. in its
day, one of the finest in the city, hav
ing been built by Mr. Herff while still
New System of Cheap Home Construction
Wing of building being raised to position by the Aiken method. This piece is 50 feet long aud 27 feet high
The Aiken monolithic concrete wall
; construction method has struck San An
toniv and it has eome here to stay. .1.
Flood Walker, who first introduced ti e
California bungalow in this city, an 1
was the architect that designed the
j Elks’ home, is responsible for the inno
vation in the building line and he now
j has several orders for structures which
will be erected by the Aiken method.
' One of the buildings is to be used as a
' residence and another as a place of
Mr. Walker recently returned from
I points in the north and east, where he
| made a close study of the new system
l of construction, and in speaking of the
same yesterday, said:
Mr. Walker Explains System.
“The thought occurred to me that
the people of Texas were paying mil
lions of dollars annually for public
schools that were'veritable fire traps
and that thousands of lives wore cn
daagered each day of the regular vchool
term by careless construction. I thought
1 at the time that there was a remedy
, for all that and the Aiken method of
building appealed to me strongly, not
only for a saving of one half of that
which is spent for the school buildings
at the present time, hut the protiSMion
। the children would have by studying
their lessons in a structure that was ab.
solutely fireproof and comfortable In
। every respect.
“With the Aiken jack system we can
now produce « double, air sp:.ccd con
crete wall finished or ornamented on '
(both surfaces in one complete opera
1 tion. Moreover, this wall is east upon
| a dipping table under full mechanical
control of specially designed lifting
jacks, also the invention of Colonel Ai
ken. by which two men in an hour have
' lifted the finished side of n building,
76 feet long. 27 feet high and weighing
j 76 tons, from the prone position in
' which it was poured and iet it acer
rately in place upon its permanent foun-
I dations, and, in another ease, have ]ift
1 rd tip and set in position a wall 140
, feet long without a crack.
Wali Constructim.
“The process of constructing a wall
was as follows: First Jv platform of 2
inch lumber is laid across steel begins
about four feet apart, these beams be
। ng supported by jacks. The platform
is about three feet from the ground and
। lays inside the limits of the proposed
building. Four-inch boards are. set t p
on the fonr sides to complete the form.
Ou the platform are placed the window
a young man during the carlv period of
his long prat-lice in San Antonio..
At the time of its building it was the I
only structure of any impoitance on
Houston streel. Scattered along in a
tew places were small frame or adobo
buildings, but this structure was the
only pretentious one on the aienue
that now teems with life anti business
Open Country Fifty Years Ago.
The south side of Houston street was
then the greatest developed. Practical
ly all the buildings were on that side.
On the other side of the street, if such
it could then be called, aud opposite
the present Herff homestead, were corn
fields and pastures. All this locality
is now occupied by buildings of import
ance. and to the casual observer it
would be difficult to imagine that only
50 years ago it was little more than
open country.
The Herff residence has been altered
aud improved to some extent since the
time of its first building, but its gen
eral appearance has remained the same
all these years. It is a large, plainly I
| frames and .the reinforced concrete cor
[ nice, which . is molded in six-foot sec
tions, three feet wide. In thik case spe
j rial ornamental window caps are re
' quired. and there are cast, separately
and placed in their propore positions
I on the platform. Then conevte made of
one part- cement, one and a half to two
parts sand, and four parts crushed stone
is poured upon the platform. After
about two inches of concrete hus been
laid, twisted steel rods for reinforce
ments are placed in both directions six
'inches apart and the balance of the
concrete is poured on. The wall is made
four inches thick. As a facing, a ce
ment mixture of one part white cement
to one and a half parts white sand is
laid on the surface.
“'the work is allowed to stand 48
hours to gi'c the materia) time to so
lidif'. when preparations for lifting the
j wall Io its permanent position ar P made.
This is a comparatively simple task,
'most of the power being furnished by
a five horsepower engine. It is connect
ed bv halting with the shaft under the
■ platform operating the jack screws, a ml
slowly the wall is tilted into position.
The platform supports are so placed
that the foot of the wall swings to its
position on the foundation at precisely j
the right line and when the wall has
assumed a vertical position every line
is plumb. Five or six wood props braced
to the window frames hold the wall in
i position and the platform is taken away
' from the back and swung nhmit for the
! construction of the next wall, at right
angles to the first. This operation is
repeated until all the walls are up. The
reinforcing re.Is are set to protrude at
the edges of the walls, and when all the
walls are in position, the rods inter
locked at the corners of the structure.
Thev arc twated together, and an 8-
ineh board, the only false work used
in the construction, is placed inside the
corner Here concrete is poured in, a
joint made on the outside corner and
the two walls thus bound together.
“In Chicago 3’1 years ago,” said Mr. ।
Walker the building up of a subdivis |
inn with small cheap houses was a prof
itahlr business, hut ’he increases in the ।
prices of land, lumber and labor, to
gether with the |o. rosse in the quality ;
of the lumber and the growth of com- :
petition has resulted in a rendition , t
where the owners of subdivisions have
been building house without the build I i
er’s profit in order to sell their lots. | .
Homes for Workingmen. i
“On the other hand. the binh epst. :
The Most Valuable Home in San Antonio
■ j of the simplest of houses is working a
- j hardship on the workingmen. They uo
- i longer buy houses as they used to do.
Tha*’ rent and when they are out of a
’•job they are out in the street. If they
i do buy a home within their means it is
’ of such flimsy structure that when
i their mortgage becomes due the house
1 Ims so deteriorated that it is no longer
• worth the cost of the mortgage. There
are many houses for sale in Chicago
for the cost of the mortgage or less,
j for no other reason than material de
preciation. ,
“Man’s first material step away
from savagery afd towards civilization
was through the door of an architectu
ral domicile.
“Wood, stone and brick are the
building materials which have served I
>as stepping stones and marked the ।
stages of his civilized advancement;
from the natural cavern or skin tent i
to th< palace and the temple. Steel. !
hollow tile ami terra cotta, adjuncts of 1
strength, economy and beauty, are com- |
paratively of modern use.
“Now. we are upon the threshold of
a new era in not only the material for, I
but in the method of, the construction I
of human habitations, to which the ar-1
tist and the architect as well as the |
mechanic, mnst readapt himself and
conform his methods —an era which has
but begun to dawn upon us. yet has al j
ready been appropriately christened the
‘Concrete .Age.’
“And. assuming it as a truth that
civilization will eventually house itself 1
in the cheapest, most comfortable, most i
healthful structures most pleasing to I
6he eye, I challenge the world to eon- |
trovert my deliberate statement that
Robert Aiken’s improvement in build
ing methods is one of the greatest prac
ticable time and money saving in ven
tinns in structure building yet produc
ed by this generation of men.”
Mr Walker said that a comfortable
four-room cottage could be erected by i
the Aiken method, at a cost not tn ex
ceed $1500. which would bo sanitary
and absolutely fireproof and would
stand for a eenturv w ithout any oxter
ual repairs being made on the building.
In regard tn office buildings, he said
that a structure ranging all the way
fmm a one-story affair to a skvseraper
could be erected with perfect ease. Alli
that would be required in the latter (
instance would be to build one story at
a time, and as each was completed move
the jacks and frame to the next floor
and keep on goinv skvward
The Dr. Herff Homestead.
built, commodious square stone house,
set back about 30 feet from the sine
walk. To this day, though shut in by
buildings on bolh sides aud a busy
street in front, it has a dignified ap-.
pearanee and would be readily receg
nized as one of the old residence land
marks of the city.
The property on which the residence
stands fronts 65 feet on Houston street
and extends baek to the driver. At tha
rear is an alley, which it is supposed
shall be widened and made into an
extension of College street from Na
varro through to Losoya.
Value 82000 Per Foot.
। To estimate the value of this unique
i residence property standing in the bus- j
iness center would be difficult- Efforts
have been made a number of times to
purchase it, but without avail, the own
er preferring to maintain the home that
he has lived in so long, rather than to
profit by its sale for other usages.
Agents variously estimate its value at
from $1006 to $2000 per front foot.
It is safe to assert that it is the
most valuable property uu which stands
a home in the city. The splendid resi
dences of Laurel Heights and other at
tractive residence portions of the city, I
' ith their large grounds, splendid walks i
and lawns, and palatial modern con
struction. probably do nob in any in-
I stance, equal in value this old fashion- ;
ed home and its grounds.
Owner of the Property.
Dr. Ferdinand Herff Sr., the owner,
is today one of the most remarkable [
men in San Antonio. He is physician,
sage and philosopher, and the city pro
•bably possesses no man who has an
equal store of knowledge of its early
The date of bis residence here reaches,
past 69 years, and his early life here
i nd tides experience with the Indians
and the bands of white men who con-!
| tributed to pioneer lawlessness.
Dr. Herff, despite his years, still prsc- [
j tices his profession with a devotion
! born through long vears of patience and |
endeavor. His reputation is widespread i
and he is considered one of the leading j
surgeons aud medical authorities of the
The total cost of this property, which .
now is worth over $100,000, was $1050,1
showing that in a little more than 50 I
years it has increased 10 times. The :
site was purchased in three different I
tracts The first purchase was May 28, j
1853, from J A Durand.
The property taken at that time was I
described as one lot and part of an- '
other on the east bank of the San An-1
There is a good reason for the ever
increasing demand for “Duerler’s”
/SQigk Iron Brew
A .ijy One bottle will do more to explain
• it more than a page of newspaper
There are imitations—the genuine bears the •‘Duerler’* name or trado
mark. See that you get the real Iron Brew.
G. A. Duerler Mfg. Co.
Bottlers of Pure. Non-Alcoholic Beverages.
AUGUST 20, 1900.
tonio river bounded on the north by
Paseo street, now Houston street; on the
east by lands of S. A. Maverick, on the
south by the San Antonio river and on
the west by a lot belonging to the ven
dor and by another lot belonging to
Chas. Kreische and others. The con
sideration in this instance was $400.
On October 3, 1854. the second pur- v
chase was made. This was six vatas
of land fronting on Paseo street from
Samuel A. Maverick and the considera
tion was $150.
March 31, 1856, was the date of the
purchase of the last plot of ground,
which completes the homestead. It
was 14 varas and was purchased from
Adolf Sehloemann for $500. All three
instruments arc acknowledged before
Sam S. Smith, clerk of the circuit court
of Bexar county. With the exception
. of the purchase from 8. A. Maverick all
of the site was originally owned by
J. A. Durand.
Work has begun on the new building
of the Wells-Fargo Express company at
fie Sunset station, which will be used
I as a depot ofice of the company.
The building is to be located between
I the Sunset passenger station and Iho
| plant of the Alamo Iron works. It will
be almost an exact model, on a smaller
I scale of the Sunset station, the archi
tecture of which is considered most
j unique and has attracted wide atten
tion. It will cost approximately $12,-
J 009 and is to be ready by December 1.
AT $450 PER

I Sixty thousand dollars, or a little
1 more than $450 per front foot, was the
' price paid last week for property at
. Houston and North Flores streets, which
was sold by Brooke Smith of Brown
I county to .lames F. Campbell of San
I Antonio.
The property fronts 132.8 feet on tho
' north line of Houston street and 109
feet on North Floies street. It is at
' present occupied by a two-story brick
। building.

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