IN SERVICE TO KING WILLIAM (THE DISTRICT)
Heritage travelers who love historically-rich San Antonio have always appreciated the city’s King William District, known as “Sauerkraut Bend” during its construction heyday due to the number of German immigrants who began to build the great mid-nineteenth century homes that occupy the district’s streets today. The abundance of Greek Revival, Victorian era, and Italianate mansions, courtesy of a building boom and the financial success of hardworking German Texans, enjoyed status as the most fashionable neighborhood in the city until the early 1900s. Decline set in, however, after the turn of the century, exacerbated by a fit of nationalism during World War l that forced a temporary name change for the district to Pershing Avenue. Originally called the King Wilhelm District in honor of King Wilhelm l, a historical figure familiar to all Germans arriving in the New World, the district’s name took on a decidedly English spelling after the city dropped the Pershing Avenue change at end of the war. Although Germans may have financed the district’s architectural extravagance, they didn’t necessarily build it. That responsibility fell to residents of the neighboring district, Lavaca, geographically separated by only an avenue but economically operating in a whole different world. The historic Lavaca District, composed of more humble estates rising up during the King William building frenzy, featured simple adobe and stone saltbox homes and, later, early twentieth century bungalows. Here lived the craftsmen, stonemasons, and carpenters that built the King William mansions, Americans of German, Mexican, and African descent not quite as financially fortunately but no less hardworking and skilled. Today, the King William and Lavaca Districts go hand-in-hand, considered equal yet decidedly unique aspects of San Antonio’s history and preservation efforts.
Watch our War, Suspicion, and the Decline of German Influence video to learn more about German Texan cultural heritage in Texas. This video was produced for inclusion in our German Texans mobile tour found in our Texas Time Travel Tours mobile app. Download the app for more videos and travel information:
King William and Lavaca Historic Districts