The quiet neighborhood of Woodlawn Place Addition, once advertised as the "Million Dollar Addition," is located just northwest of downtown San Antonio, along Martinez Creek between Woodlawn Ave., Fredericksburg Rd. (a section of the Old Spanish Trail) and N. Zarzamora.
The 100 acres, first platted in 1922, were chosen for the abundance of large mature trees that would surround the new bungalows and impressive homes with styles to include, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Moorish-Spanish, and Craftsman architecture, with thoughtful designs in stonework and stucco. These homes included the latest in modern appliances, electrical lighting, gas and plumbing, all on paved streets with walks and curbs. The neighborhood was an "automobile suburb," and the streets were designed to be eighty feet wide to accommodate the automobile, with rear garages and all power poles located in alleyways to not obstruct the beauty of the homes. A character-defining feature of this area is the tiled street names on every corner with street names continuing from the adjacent Woodlawn Lake District. The period of significance for Woodlawn Place Addition is 1924 to 1940 when the majority of these homes were built.
Three prominent San Antonio businessmen, Norris Dickinson, owner of N.S. Dickinson & Co., Kenneth Wimer, President and Manager of Wimer-Richardson & Company, Investment Bankers, and Leland Busby, President of the Busby Building Corp., all collaborated in the development of Woodlawn Place Addition, also known as the "Picture Book Addition," and they each owned homes in this neighborhood.
Norris Dickinson, a leading real estate dealer and home builder, chose the land to plat and develop. He was also the Vice President of Busby Building Corp. and placed many ads in the San Antonio newspapers announcing the new model homes, some of which were sold fully furnished. In 1926, an ad included 1546 West Magnolia Ave., a fully furnished Moorish-Spanish style home for $11,500. In 1940, 1612 West Huisache was advertised as a "lovely, six-room home for rent at a reduced price of $50.00/month."
Leland Busby traveled to Denver, Salt Lake City and several cities in California to study stucco and brick veneer construction and concluded that stucco homes would best adapt to San Antonio and its needs. He built several stucco homes, especially on W. Summit St., which became known as "Busby’s Stucco Row." There are seven of the 20 stucco homes remaining today. Busby’s homes featured three-wall construction, reinforced concrete foundations, plaster finishes, hard wood and tile floors, and fire resistant mineral sheathing which also acted as an insulator.
Kenneth Wimer, who contributed greatly to the development of San Antonio, resided at 1506 Huisache, a magnificent two-story brick Tudor Revival. Urban legend has it that this house was later a brothel, complete with secret passages so that when the police arrived, all occupants could hide without being found.
Commercial buildings added to the convenience of living in this area. They included: Woodlawn Place Grocery and Market located at 1651 Woodlawn as listed in the 1927 San Antonio City Directory; Diamond Service Gas Station #1 located at 1650 West Woodlawn, listed in the 1929-1930 Directory; and Beacon Drug Store located at 1655 Woodlawn listed in the 1929 Directory. In 1935, 1639 West Mistletoe was listed as Mrs. Ware Blanche Convalescent Home, which became Morgan Nursing Home from 1946 – 1970, and later became the Kerper House, a halfway house for released criminals. Today only the rear apartment stands on the large quadruple lot.
Woodlawn Elementary School opened in 1924, while Woodlawn Place Tabernacle served the community at 1701 West Woodlawn Ave., the closest religious sanctuary in the area. By 1934, it had changed its name to Woodlawn Methodist Church and is now El Divino United Methodist Church.
There are 30 apartment buildings out of the 221 resources in Woodlawn Place Addition. Most of these multi-family dwellings border the edges of the major streets in the area: Woodlawn Ave., N. Calaveras, and N. Zarzamora.
Today the Woodlawn Place Addition is well maintained and still adds to the beauty and history of San Antonio.
By Lisa M. LeJune
San Antonio Conservation Society volunteer - Historic Survey Committee
Original Draft By:
Rachel Baumann, Historic Preservation Intern 2004
- New Encyclopedia of Texas, "Men of Texas" p. 493-494
- San Antonio Light, May 1926, and July 1940
- City of San Antonio, Office of Historic Preservation Archives