Dignowity Hill was San Antonio’s first exclusive residential suburb. The area was settled by Dr. Anthony Michael Dignowity, a physician and Czech immigrant, who built his family home on a hill to the east of town and called it Harmony House. During the latter part of the nineteenth century, Dignowity Hill, as it became known, was home to prominent San Antonio merchants and business owners who constructed large estates. Dignowity Hill was an exclusive and affluent residential area in San Antonio due to its high elevation, proximity to downtown, the size of the lots, and lack of city water, which required residents to construct expensive water collecting systems.
The arrival of the railroad in 1877 significantly changed the neighborhood’s built environment and demographic diversity. Industrial development greatly increased with the construction of an iron works factory, the development of a streetcar trolley line along Burnet Street (1891), and the extension of sewer and water lines to the area around the turn-of-the-century. By 1914, the neighborhood was surrounded by industry on the north and west, commerce on the south, and modest homes on the east. Dr. Dignowity died in 1875, and his Harmony House was later demolished. The property became Dignowity Park in 1926. The neighborhood consisted primarily of small Folk Victorian style houses and Craftsman Bungalows by the 1930s. Today, the neighborhood is a local historic district bounded by Sherman Street on the north, Commerce Street and Paso Hondo on the south, Palmetto Street on the east, and Cherry Street on the west.
Source: A Forgotten Past/A Nebulous Future, John E. Castaneda, 1979. COSA-OHP archives.