The King William Historic District is located south of downtown and bounded by Durango, South St. Mary’s, Eagleland and the San Antonio River. The district encompasses land that was once irrigated farm land belonging to the Mission San Antonio de Valero, commonly known as the Alamo. When the mission was secularized in 1793, the lands were divided among the resident Indian families from the mission or sold at public auction. In the 1860s the area was subdivided into lots and laid out with the present streets.
It was about this time in the mid-nineteenth century that a great many Germans, who had immigrated to Texas in the 1840s, began to settle in this area, and it became known as "Sauerkraut Bend" to the rest of San Antonio. The area developed into an idyllic neighborhood of large, impressive houses designed in the Greek Revival, Victorian, and Italianate styles. The main street into the neighborhood was given the name King William in honor of King Wilhelm I, King of Prussia in the 1870s. During World War I, when America was at war with Germany, the name was changed to Pershing Avenue. A few years after the war ended the King William name was restored.
In the early 1900s the King William area began to wane as a fashionable neighborhood, and by 1920 many of the original homebuilders had died and their children moved to other parts of San Antonio. During the 1930s and 1940s the neighborhood declined. Many of the fine old homes were converted into apartments, and only a few of the earlier settlers remained.
Around 1950, however, the area began to attract a group of people who found its proximity to the downtown business district attractive and who, moreover, recognized the potential of restoration of the fine old houses and smaller cottages. An interest in preservation of the area was initiated, and it slowly became a "fashionable" and desirable place to live once again. In 1968 the King William neighborhood became San Antonio's first designated historic district. In 1972, King William was listed as a National Register Historic District. The district was expanded in 1984 to include the area of more modest late 19th and early 20th century homes between S. Alamo and S. St. Mary's Streets.