San Antonio Riverwalk – A Passion for Preservation

Rio San Antonio Cruises - La Mansion area

Today, the River Walk exemplifies San Antonio’s passion for historic preservation and adaptive reuse of centuries-old buildings. As you tour the River Walk, look for these and other notable buildings both on and off our Riverwalk cruises:

  • Most of the caliche block and stucco structures in La Villita Historic Arts Village, a collection of boutiques, art galleries and restaurants, date to the mid-1800s when European immigrants lived and worked there. The area was first restored in 1939 by the National Youth Administration.
  • The city’s Carnegie Library, built along the river on Market Street in 1930, became the Hertzberg Circus Museum in 1968. Today, it’s being renovated for the Dolph and Janey Briscoe Western Art Museum.
  • Robert H. H. Hugman, architect and visionary of the River Walk, maintained a river level office in the Clifford Building, constructed on Commerce Street in 1893 and designed by Bexar County Courthouse architect James Riely Gordon. The white brick and masonry structure with the round tower now houses a coin shop and The Republic of Texas restaurant.
  • The Drury Plaza Hotel on South St. Mary’s Street is in the former Alamo National Bank Building, an art-deco skyscraper built in 1929. The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, as is the nearby San Antonio Drug Company office building, which dates to 1919 and is now the Homewood Suites by Hilton .
  • Overlooking the San Antonio River in the King William Historic District, the private residence of Carl H. Guenther, founder of the Pioneer Flour Mill, was built in 1860 and remodeled in 1917. The Guenther House restaurant, a popular destination for breakfast and lunch, opened at the location in 1988. The restaurant, museum and store are owned by C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc., the oldest continuously operating milling company in the U.S.
  • In the 1860s, Giraud also designed many of the buildings for the Ursuline Academy and Convent on Augusta Street, which now houses the Southwest School of Art. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.
  • Two former breweries built along the San Antonio River—Pearl and Lone Star—are now accessible on the Museum Reach section of the River Walk.
    • The Pearl Brewery complex on E. Grayson is a mixed-use commercial and residential development that is also home to the Culinary Institute of America—San Antonio and the Aveda Institute, along with acclaimed restaurants and specialty stores. The brewery was founded in 1881 as the J. B. Behloradsky Brewery and the City Brewery. The first Pearl Beer was bottled there in 1886.
    • The Lone Star Brewery on Jones Street was completed in 1904 and remained in operation until 1918, when Prohibition was enacted and the buildings were then used for storage and warehouses until 1957. The site was acquired by the San Antonio Museum Association in the 1970s. The San Antonio Museum of Art opened in 1981, renowned for its collections of Latin American Folk Art and Asian Art.Courtesy of: San Antonio Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
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