Readers ask for help with ‘orphan’ downtown cobblestones

I just read your article on cobblestones (Houston Street memorials). I bought one for my late father, and it got moved. This

was originally somewhere around The Palm (restaurant, 233 E. Houston St.) which was cut out for valet parking. The certificate indicates that it was located in the 200 block of East Houston Street, North Side, Section 7, and was dated January 28, 1992.

My father’s name was Marco A. Botello; he grew up loving downtown. We would sit on a bench and watch (its cobblestone) while hanging out downtown. Can you give me an idea of ​​where to pick up on Houston Street? Is there a way to get a replacement or purchase another in their name?

— Mari Botello Feist

My mother had bought bricks for her, me and my three daughters. I can only find the certificate for the placement of his brick. My daughters and I were downtown last weekend for Mother’s Day and picked up our bricks. We only found two, my mother’s and my daughter’s. They were both in the 500 block of East Houston Street, section N-15. There were so many bins and they are too heavy to move. I was wondering if you know anyone who has these records so we can see if ours has been moved to another location. Originally, we were all in the same neighborhood.

—Nina Johnson

I frequently go downtown to enjoy the old buildings and their architecture. I was on Alamo Street and turned left (west) onto Houston Street. Years ago I had bought several bricks with last names on them, and they were placed on the sidewalk at the north corner of Houston Street (opposite the old Woolworth Building). I could see they were gone. Red bricks were there but without any writing. These (memorial) bricks were expensive and there were hundreds of them, some on the south side of the street as well. Can you tell us what happened to them?

—Connie Fuller

This refers to the engraved brick I purchased in August 1990, located in the 500 block of East Houston Street, South Side, Section 20. My name has faded after 30 years. Can you help me fix my brick, which needs fixing?

— Melinda P. De La Fuente

My mother-in-law bought bricks for the Houston Street project in the late 1980s. Is there a new map of named brick placement?

—Linda Dickey

I too bought a brick in 1990 but could never find the brick. I saw your story (2014) on René Garza and was happy to hear that he had found his. What I would like to know is how to get information about my daughter’s brick. I lost my certificate and would like a copy or just someone who can tell me where it is.

—Rozanne Martinez

I live in Arizona now but plan to visit San Antonio. Can you help me locate three bricks I bought in the 1990s?

—Ginger Roberts

My family purchased several bricks during the San Antonio Brick Walk project many years ago, but we were unable to locate them during visits to the Houston Street neighborhood. I was told they were near the Majestic Theatre. Is there a website that could tell us their location?

—Ray Forsbach

I saw this story online while searching the San Antonio Brick Walk, but saw no way to search for locations of previously purchased bricks. Who manages the database of names and places?

—JP Cook

I’m trying to find one for my son-in-law that I bought for him in 1992, so I can take his kids to see it, as well as mine and my late husband’s. Could you give me a name and phone number or a web page where I can look up his brick?

—Robbie Fuqua

Please let me know the location of (block) #006902, Lazar R. Kirven Jr. This brick was across from the Majestic. I paid for this brick to be an everlasting memorial to my father and to keep the name Kirven in San Antonio history. Since there are files somewhere of everyone who has purchased bricks, is there a plan in place to replace all of the missing bricks? If not, please suggest someone to fix it.

—Malcolm Kirven

This is a sample of queries received from readers who have purchased engraved commemorative brick pavers since this column published a question from Rene Garza on March 7, 2014, the most recent (from Nina Johnson) arriving on last week. It seemed like a good time to revisit the topic, in hopes of rekindling municipal interest in the rather derelict feature of the downtown street and perhaps even finding some of the missing bricks.

Garza was looking for the brick he bought in 1990 in honor of his new granddaughter Cierra Rae Garza. “During this time,” he wrote, “the San Antonio Brick Walk was formed and a committee was selling bricks to pave the sidewalks along East Houston Street around the Majestic Theater area.” In 2014, father and daughter — then adults living downtown — both went looking for him and couldn’t find him.

The Brick Walk was a fundraiser associated with the Tri-Party Improvements Project, a public/private cooperation aimed at making the streets of downtown San Antonio more convenient and welcoming. Manufactured by Alamo Concrete Pavers, the bricks were each approximately 2 to 3 inches thick and could be engraved with a brief message or more often a name in honor or in memory of a loved one. While many other blank units were placed to beautify downtown sidewalks, the inscribed cobblestones were installed on a section of Houston Street that began at Alamo Plaza and continued west past the Majestic Theater, through a busy area of ​​restaurants and cultural venues reminiscent of when Houston Street was the city’s busiest shopping and entertainment district.

The custom sidewalks were meant to be “an attraction for someone who bought a brick to walk down and get their brick and maybe stay downtown for a meal or a show,” said Melissa Burnett, marketing director of Centro Alliance in 2014. “It generated news because we used the placement of certain bricks of celebrities and officials as media opportunities (and) we also had special sections for veterans of the operation Desert Storm and for Alamo defenders.”

Paver buyers like Garza received a “Certificate of Ownership” signed by then-Mayor Lila Cockrell and Ben E. Brewer III, Chairman of the Brick Walk Committee. The certificate certifies that “said brick has been placed prominently along the historic sidewalks of Houston Street and that the aforesaid owner is entitled to all honors and honors flowing therefrom.” (Maybe not so many of them: at the bottom, there’s a disclaimer in fine print: “This certificate is not a legal title of ownership.”)

Owners/non-owners also received a map of the part of Brick Walk that showed the section where their bricks had been placed. Garza’s, for example, was identified as N-16, with “N” representing the north side of East Houston, the 200 block between St. Mary’s and Navarro streets. On the same page was a list of prominent San Antonians from the Brick Walk committee, some of whom have since died (such as Cockrell, former San Antonio Express-News publisher Charles O. Kilpatrick, and real estate magnate DB Harrell ) and others who are retired.

At the time of Garza’s question, former Brick Walk Committee chairman Brewer was still active in downtown affairs as executive vice president of business operations for Centro Alliance (formerly Downtown Owners Association), a coalition of downtown actors. “When a city contractor carried out repairs in front of the Majestic, he scrambled a lot of it and lost some of the bricks despite our warnings to keep track of the ‘name tiles,'” Brewer said in 2014. “He a few years ago we went and did an inventory of (new) brick locations.

The Brick Walk has raised more than $600,000 for the three-party beautification efforts, including additional trash cans, said project manager Scott Ericksen, then public participation coordinator for the city’s metropolitan planning organization. San Antonio-Bexar County or DFO, now Alamo Area DFO. The Garzas’ quest also had a happy ending when a Centro staff member searched and found Cierra’s pad outside 301 E. Houston St., now La Panaderia Bakery and Cafe.

Since then, the readers whose questions appear above, along with a few others, have sought to recapture their civic contribution from three decades ago. It’s hard to tell people, many of whom have been getting up for years, to walk slowly down both sides of Houston Street, read the sidewalk brick by brick, or maybe take pictures of everyone with a cell phone to enlarge them. and browse them at home.

To help them, this column contacted some city departments to ask if anyone had a map or list or any other information about the carved cobblestones. So far, nothing good. Citing spokespersons, the Office of Historic Preservation “has no information on this”; at Public Works, “No one here seems to know”; and at Centro, “At one point we had inventory,” said Matt Sirgo, the band’s storytelling director, “but over the years the bricks have been removed and even moved around in some places. “

Unfortunately, nobody’s work is done by… nobody. If someone – perhaps an Eagle Scout candidate or an ambitious intern – tackles an updated inventory of this part of our city’s history, it would be great to bring the cobblers and their people together.

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David H. Henry