Dilworth Green

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The neighborhood platted as Dilworth Green lies on the city’s east side, partially abutting the southeast corner of the city’s Eastside Cemetery complex. It is bounded by Martin Luther King Drive (north), Aransas Avenue (south), S. Gevers Street (east, and S. New Braunfels Avenue (west).  Primarily a residential neighborhood of early twentieth century bungalows, Dilworth Green also features prominent public and religious structures.
 
The land lying within these boundaries originally belonged to Eleanor Brackenridge. Miss Brackenridge, very active in the women’s suffrage movement, was the first woman to vote in Bexar County and one of the first women in the nation to serve as a bank director.  Sister of the more widely known George Brackenridge, who donated land to the city for Brackenridge Park, neither she nor her brother married. The two shared the same residence (on what is now University of the Incarnate Word campus) until his death in 1920.
 
Smith ElementarySmith Elementary School at 823 Gevers was built in 1903 on 2.10 acres of land purchased from Eleanor Brackenridge for $3,553.00.  The first decade of the 1900’s was a period of transition from the Victorian aesthetic to the early twentieth century Classical Revival style, which dominated American architecture in the years before World War I.  Smith Elementary is one of two remaining transition schools of this era in San Antonio. The other is the original 1904 section of Briscoe School at 2015 S. Flores Street on the city’s near south side.  Smith Elementary School is built of red brick with Neoclassical arched windows and doorways topped by prominent keystones of cast stone, columns on the second floor of the portico, and modillions (brackets) under the eaves.  Numerous additions to enlarge the school over the years blend well with the original building.  The school was named for two heroes who fought during the Texas Revolution, Erastus "Deaf" Smith and John W. Smith. 
 
At the turn of the century when the school was constructed the surrounding area was largely undeveloped, but residential growth was forthcoming.   In July 1907 Miss Brackenridge sold the adjoining approximately 40 acres, to R. S. Dilworth and William Green for $14,000.  The developers had the land surveyed and platted in 1909, and a small number of early twentieth century Queen Anne style houses were built.  The major construction of homes, however, occurred in the period between 1920 and 1930, primarily in the Craftsman bungalow style.   Dilworth Green remains an intact neighborhood reflective of early twentieth century residential development in San Antonio.
 
A new Redemptorist parish and mission center, to be named St. Gerard Majella, was approved for the diocese in 1911.  The first pastor arrived in August of that year and the first Mass of the new parish was celebrated in a rented location on Iowa Street on September 10, 1911. By May of 1912 the first permanent building of the parish, a combination church and school was completed at 1617 Iowa (at the corner of Iowa and Gevers Street). The rectory was constructed next door to the church/school in the spring of 1913.  Growing school enrollment necessitated a separate building for the church, and in 1922 the new St. Gerard’s Church was dedicated.  It is located next to the rectory and remains an active parish. The style of St. Gerard’s Church recalls that of Mexican churches with twin towers flanking an intricately ornamented central arch.  The church, rectory, and school are built of a light tan brick.  The parish was at one time the largest in the city and included a convent for the sisters of Notre Dame and a high school.

St. Gerard's Church

St. Gerard School

Lisa Davis
San Antonio Conservation Society Volunteer – Historic Survey Committee
February 2009

 
Sources:

Historic Neighborhood Schools by Donald J. Engelking
Files from San Antonio Independent School District
"St. Gerard Parish 75th Jubilee 1911-1986"
Jodi Williams, research files, San Antonio Conservation Society Library
San Antonio Express News
San Antonio Light