This has turned out to be a blog about the Guenther House but first a word about the original purpose of our jaunt. My friend Nancy is a full time RVer currently staying out at Potter's Creek as you may know from earlier blogs. She is having a visitor for the Thanksgiving holidays and wanted to find a spot to stay that would be close to downtown San Antonio so they could do some sightseeing in that area without having to drive all the way into town. My first thought was the San Antonio KOA which is very close to the AT&T Center. My cousins stayed there a couple of years ago and it seemed quite nice.
The office manager was very nice and no problem with us driving through the park to check it out. She provided us with their brochure and told us that the city bus stopped right outside the park to go downtown, another plus. The park was very nice with lots of trees and seemed like a more rural park area with a lot of natural setting. Everything looked great.
We had one other park that we wanted to check out which was also close to downtown but on the south side. We didn't get a brochure as the manager said they only give those out to people checking in. Travelers World seemed nice also but the spaces were closer together and things just seemed a bit more crowded. The neighborhood wasn't quite as nice either and the price was about the same.
On to the Guenther House for the remainder of our outing. We left the last RV park and started looking for a place for lunch. As we drove toward the downtown San Antonio area to hook up with the expressway, I spied the Pioneer Flour Tower and thought of the Guenther House. This place is a popular weekend brunch spot but I thought it might work for lunch and neither of us had ever eaten there.
A short history of Guenther House
Carl Guenther, a twenty-three-year-old apprentice millwright boarded a boat in Europe bound for America in 1848. After traveling through the Midwest engaged in a variety of work experiences such as lumbering, farming and flour milling, Guenther ended up in Texas. Three years after his arrival, with the financial help from his parents, he built a flour mill seventy-five miles northwest of San Antonio on the Live Oak Creek in Fredericksburg, Texas.
Business flourished and Hilmar expanded and improved his mill over the next several years. But in 1858, drought depleted the crops to the point that he had little grain to grind and little water to drive the wheel. .He decided to close the mill and relocate his business on the more powerful San Antonio River after purchasing nearly eight acres of land just below the center of the city. In 1860, after the mill was erected, Guenther began to build a home for his family.
It was a single story home with stones were quarried from an area near what is now the San Antonio Zoo. The mortar joining these stones was made from rocks gathered downstream. The roof was made of metal sheets. Here, Hilmar and his wife, Henrietta Dorothea Pape, set up a home and raised seven children.
With the mill prospering, Guenther replaced millstones with steel rolls to grind grain. Waterwheels gave way to electricity as a source of power. Building expansions took place over the years and Guenther's Mill was renamed Pioneer Flour Mills in 1898.
In 1902, Hilmar's youngest son Erhard, became president of Pioneer Flour Mills. He also undertook a major remodeling of the family home. The changes that he made gave The Guenther House the look it has today.
The original metal roof was replaced by a green tile. Two stories and a side veranda were added. Today, the only portion of the original structure that is visible from the outside is the one-story stone section that faces the river. As extensive as the exterior changes were, it was on the inside of The Guenther House that Erhard Guenther left his mark most dramatically.
You can see the one story section on the left with the two story part on the right.
This is the rear of the house. You can eat inside or in this lovely outside area. The very top area is a ballroom which can be reserved for appropriate functions.
An old millstone on the grounds.
The top of the Pioneer Flour tower. A later picture shows a view of the whole structure from a distance.
The Guenther House is located right next to the San Antonio river. This walk was added last year as part of the Riverwalk system.
This is the way it looked before the new walk was added. There are lovely residences on the other side of the river.
This is the front entrance to the house and grounds.
We had a very nice lunch. Nancy tried the champagne chicken enchiladas and I had the special of the day, a chicken pot pie which came with a very unique fluted bottom crust and open top. Breakfast is available during lunch as well. There is so much to explore in San Antonio.