The neighborhood of Saint Cecilia is located approximately
two miles south of downtown San Antonio and is bounded by Union
Pacific Railroad tracks on the north, by Interstate 37 on the
east, by Interstate 10 on the south, and by Roosevelt Avenue on
In 1907, three developers: C.S. Fowler, Empire Reality, and
W.A. Baity platted what would become the Saint Cecilia
Neighborhood. Lot prices ranged from $175.00 to $1,000.00.
Real estate advertisements stressed the convenience of getting
to downtown in only eight minutes on the Hot Wells streetcar
The presence and community importance of Saint Cecilia Catholic
Church provided a name identification that endures today.
Saint Cecilia started with a congregation of 40 families in 1919
and grew to over 3,000 families by 1950 before the beginning of
a decline when 500 families were displaced to allow for
expressway construction. Today, Saint Cecilia has a
congregation of approximately 1,400 families.
The ethnic makeup of the neighborhood has changed dramatically
over the years. The first residents were largely of
English and German ancestry. This continued until the late
1940’s when Hispanic families became a presence. (During
the 1960’s Saint Cecilia’s masses became bi-lingual). By
1969 over 50 percent of the area’s population was Hispanic, and
by 2002 Hispanics comprised almost 100 percent.
Over the years there has also been a profound shift in the
economic profile of this neighborhood. It began as a
middle-class, white-collar neighborhood which continued through
the 1950’s. Between the end of the 1950’s until the mid
1980’s government and skilled blue-collar workers were the
primary occupants. Kelley Air Force Base employed many of
these residents. Following the late 1980’s the population
shift has been toward unskilled workers and retirees.
The business community initially developed slowly due to both
World War I and the post-war recession. During the 1920’s
business development surged and prospered which continued until
the late 1940’s. "Mom and pop," chain retail (Piggley-Wiggley,
Sommers Drug and Winn Variety), and non-retail businesses
(General Motors Parts Depot, Presa Food Locker, A-1 Sheet Metal,
Carr Plating Company and others) were in business. South Presa
Street has always been the neighborhood’s primary shopping venue
with Roosevelt Avenue area being the secondary business
The majority of the houses built following the initial
platting have retained their architectural integrity.
Three dominant styles prevail: Classical Revival, Craftsman, and
Bungalow. There are also a number of transitional styles.
Some attractive restorations have been done and others are
underway. Two of the most significant structures are the
L.T. Wright House (no relation to renowned architect Frank Lloyd
Wright) at 342 Wilkens Avenue, and the RB Green Elementary
School at 122 W. Whittier. The Wright House was designed
by George Willis, a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright, and is an
outstanding example of the Prairie style. Recent
restoration has returned the Wright House to its original
condition and appearance. The RB Green Elementary School
building was built by Leo Dielmann in 1915 in the Progressive
School style and today is the least altered of the San Antonio
Independent School District’s pre-WW I campuses.
Another significant structure within the neighborhood is St.
Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church School at 201 Roseborough
Street, at the intersection of Roseborough and Kinney Streets.
St. Paul’s Church began through a missionary effort by Pastor
F.W. Boblitz in 1908. Church services were held in rented
facilities and private homes until 1913. The first chapel
was constructed at the corner of South Presa and Roseborough in
1913 at a cost of $978.00 by builder Nik Buenger. The
first service in the new chapel was conducted on Christmas
morning. As the congregation grew a larger chapel was
needed, and the corner stone for the present church at 2302
South Presa was laid in January 1925. The architect was
Mr. Van der Stratton and construction was done by Moeller and
Weibecker at a total cost of $14,139.20. A substantial
expansion of church facilities was completed in 1948.
St. Paul’s Lutheran School is intimately connected to the
history of the church. From the earliest days a church
school was considered integral to the future work of the
congregation. Pastor O.C. Busse started St. Paul’s
Lutheran School in September 1913. Private homes and
rented facilities were used as classrooms, and church history
mentions the conversion in 1925 of the first chapel to a school
building. This was the first dedicated academic facility.
Student enrollment grew to 60 pupils by 1928, and in that same
year the building at 201 Roseborough was constructed.
Again, Mr. R. Van der Stratton was the architect. Allen
&Allen Company was the builder. Cost for the new school
building was $14,565.60. Upon completion of the building,
students who had been attending classes in the new church and
old chapel buildings were moved into the new two-classroom
facility. An interesting feature of this building was a
two-lane bowling alley in the basement used as a recreation and
social meeting place for the congregation. St Paul’s
Lutheran School continued in the 1929 school building until 1962
when new classrooms and a gym were completed. The old
school building continued to house a Day Care Center. From
1976 until 1994 the building was occupied by the Presa Community
Service Center, a cooperative and comprehensive social service
ministry to the community. Today it is a thrift shop operated by
the church. The original chapel building located at 211
Roseborough is used by the church’s Child Development Center and
has undergone significant modification.
L.T. Wright House
Robert B. Green Elementary
Former St. Paul's Lutheran School