Jim Mery - Interim Director
In the 1840s, the area of today's Milam Park was largely
undeveloped, west of the city center but easily reached on foot
and by wagon. When the City Council dedicated eight acres there
for burials in 1848, a public cemetery was already on the
property. To the north, the old "Campo Santo" or Catholic
cemetery occupied part of Santa Rosa Hospital's future site.
The remains of Ben Milam, killed while defending San Antonio against the Mexican army in 1835, were moved to the new cemetery from their first burial place. The cemetery soon became too small for the growing city, and by the early 1850s, most burials were moved to new cemeteries east and west of town. Ben Milam remained behind, and by the 1880s, citizens asked City Council to fence and improve the vacant area. When a local wagon driver offered to move Ben Milam's remains to the new cemetery without charge in 1883, the City Council declined. The members voted instead to create a park named in Milam's honor on the old site.
Another City park had already been named for Milam. Its name was changed to Maverick Park. By 1885, water pipes and sidewalks had been installed and trees planted, beginning the development of Milam Park as we know it today.
As the city grew, Milam Park was redeveloped in the early 1970s as a park used for passive purposes as part of a major redevelopment that included Market Square. In 1993 the remains of Ben Milam were exhumed and sent to the University of Texas at San Antonio for study by archaeologists. Milam’s remains were later reburied under the monument, where they are today.
Dr. Carlos Orozco and Dr. Hugo Castaneda, two San Antonio physicians who stopped by a park in Mexico City while they were on a medical mission, dedicated themselves to returning Milam to a people's park. As a result of their discussions about the purpose and vision of Milam Park, the Friends of Milam Park was formed under the umbrella of the San Antonio Parks Foundation. That same year, the 10 foot high concrete walls built during the 1976 renovation project were knocked down to make way for the park's latest renovation.
The park was renovated to include game tables where senior citizens could play dominos and checkers; a children's playscape and water feature; a walking/jogging trail; exercise stations and new benches and trees. The centerpiece of the park is the Jalisco Pavilion.
Through Dr. Orozco's efforts under the auspices of the Friends of Milam and the San Antonio Parks Foundation, volunteers from USAA, Fort Sam Houston, Valero, and others laid 200,000 cherry red and mocha D'Hanis bricks in the park's promenade in 1993 and 1994. Private donations made it possible to place 60 park benches throughout the park in those same years.