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We invite you to:

  • Learn about the San Pedro Creek Culture Park
  • Learn about the foundations discovered at the park and the history of occupation associated with the foundations
  • Help guide the design of the area by sharing your input

Click here to view the February 4, 2021 Public Meeting Presentation

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Click here to view the February 4, 2021 Public Meeting Comments

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Click here to view the February 23, 2021 Public Meeting Presentation

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Click here to view the February 23, 2021 Public Meeting Comments

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Meet the Project

In early 2020, construction activities uncovered a series of foundations near the southwest corner of the W. Houston and Camaron Street intersection in Phase 1.2 of San Pedro Creek Culture Park. Through archival research, four components were identified to be associated with the foundations: Klemcke/Menger Soapworks, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Alamo Icehouse, and Alamo Icehouse & Brewery.

Multiple community stakeholders downtown supported the need for a public gathering space that could accommodate events and programming below the busy street level and in closer contact with the water. The current design of the San Pedro Creek Culture Park entertainment plaza overlays the archaeological site. Discovery of the foundations led to the evaluation of design options that incorporate the foundations to varying degrees. Additionally, a group of community leaders and history experts weighed in on the significance and research of the archaeological site. It is now imperative to the River Authority to capture citizen’s preference and feedback on the revised design options.

Click here to read the US Army Corps of Engineers Public Notice

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Click here to read the US Army Corps of Engineers Draft Report

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Meet the Site

A series of foundations were uncovered in early 2020 near the southwest corner of the W. Houston and Camaron Street intersection. Through archival research and limited archaeological investigations, four components were identified to be associated with the uncovered foundations.

The oldest component (1847-1859) in this series of foundations was associated with soap making by two mid-nineteenth century German immigrant families, the Klemckes and the Mengers. The component is hereafter identified as the soap factory.

In 1871, the A.M.E. Church, known as St. James Chapel, began using a portion of the Klemcke/Menger soap factory for religious services. Sited just south of Houston Street, the church fronted onto San Pedro Street (now called Camaron Street) and backed up to San Pedro Creek. The church congregation consisted of freedmen and formerly-enslaved people who were seeking religious freedom and a place where they could establish a community, shortly after emancipation. The A.M.E. Church served the African American population on the west- side of town. Spurred by the growth of the congregation, in 1873 the trustees of the church purchased the property and in 1875 contracted with San Antonio builder, A. Earhart, to enlarge the building used for services.

The remaining two archaeological components are associated with the manufacture of artificial ice (1878-1887) and the brewing of German-style lager beer (1887-1904). The Alamo Ice Company occupied the site between 1878 and 1887.

The integrity of the architectural elements and deposits that are part of the four archaeological components was reviewed as part of the process to assess the significance of these archaeological components and their eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and formal designation as State Antiquities Landmarks (SAL). Part of this discussion relied on the results of the preliminary archaeological investigations conducted by RKI staff to uncover the boundaries of the site and assess some of its partially buried features.

After extensive archeological research and field investigations, RKI staff concluded that the extensive disturbances that have impacted the site’s deposits during the multiple sequences of construction and demolition, have destroyed the integrity of setting, feeling, and association of the two most recent components (i.e., Alamo Ice Company and Alamo Ice and Brewing Company and Alamo Brewery).

Therefore, the design options presented below will focus mostly on the A.M.E. Church and soap factory foundations.

Click here to read the entire summary and recommendations.

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Design

The current design of Entertainment Plaza, the area of the San Pedro Creek Culture Park that overlays the archaeological site under review, has always recognized the basic location and history of the St. James A.M.E. Church prior to the discovery of the foundations. The design of the plaza incorporated multiple community stakeholders that supported the need for a more open public gathering place that could also provide performance and programmed events below the street level noise and in closer contact with the creek water level.

Learn more about the efforts of the interpretive plan and focus group.

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Following the discovery of the foundations, the project design team considered alternate designs that explore various means of preserving and interpreting the foundations . The alternative design studies include:

  1. Various surface treatments within the current design limits at street level.
  2. Expanded footprints that encroach on but maintain a creek level plaza design.
  3. Several options of entirely new design that partially or completely retain the foundations and full footprint of the church.

Design Options

The A study shows keeping the entirety of the Soapworks, AME Church and Alamo Ice & Brewery building foundations and the well. This can only be accomplished by removing the current west bank paseo and channel wall construction and rebuilding the east channel wall, which returns the creek channel to its original 20th century configuration. The negative impact on the flood control design would be significant and removal of the west bank paseo complicates the pedestrian connectivity of the project and emergency egress for the Alameda Theater.

A – FULL PRESERVATION OF THE SOAPWORKS, AME CHURCH AND ALAMO ICE & BREWERY FOUNDATIONS

  • Current West bank paseo and channel wall to be demolished and profligates current investment.
  • Has the highest impact on project flood control goals.
  • Will require substantial demolition of already in place heavy concrete walls and paseo on the west bank in order to obtain any flood control benefits for the project that profligates current investments.
  • Has the highest impact on project flood control goals.
    • Eliminates the free board of the channel for 100-year flood events, which severely limits future development and ability to accept flows from other planned projects.
    • In larger storm events, this may impact the ability of the channel to contain flows.
  • Engineering and feasibility studies required to determine method and cost to reinforce Alameda east wall with lower channel bottom.
  • East bank paseo to be redesigned and rebuilt to maintain lower channel bottom.
  • Removing West bank paseo complicates Alameda Theater emergency exit and overall pedestrian connectivity.
    • A minimum of two creek crossings will need to be constructed for the Alameda Theater fire escapes.
  • Requires new design for street level area and revisions to historic site interpretation.

Design Option A Impacts

Flood Control
  • Highest impact on project flood control goals
  • Existing 100-yr flows not contained within channel.
  • Additional flows from future development would cause the 100-yr flows to spill out of the channel into adjacent properties.
  • No capacity in the channel to accept flows from future drainage improvement projects.
  • Flood events above the 100-yr would cause flows to spill out of the channel into adjacent properties.
Cultural/Social
  • Limits capacity for events and programs; also limits types of activations that can be accommodated on-site
  • Reduced shade and seating for visitors
  • Eliminates performance venue for community organizations
Financial

Re-design and construction fees: $3,820,000

The B studies has two options that maintain the plaza design and the current AME Church footprint as limited to the street level. Approximately 85% A.M.E. Church foundations would be removed, and the remaining eastern portion is either interpreted with a low raised stone masonry wall or encapsulated as a protected viewable exhibit.

B.1 – LIMITED PRESERVATION OF CHURCH BUILDING WALLS AND LIMITED BUILDING FOOTPRINT

  • Requires modification of MSE (Mechanically Stabilized Earth) stone wall structural design to minimize impact on eastern portion of the church building stone walls.
  • Removes approximately 85% of historic stone walls.
  • Church building floor area at street level approximately 300 sf.
  • Preservation treatment of stone walls as appropriate and no exposure.
  • Church building walls delineated with low stone walls.
  • No impact on plaza or paseo design.
  • Marginal reduction of trees and shade if no plantings within the church building footprint.

Design Option B.1 Impacts

Flood Control

Maintains project flood control goals:

  • 100-yr floodplain contained in channel
  • Channel capacity for flows from future development and drainage improvement projects
Cultural/Social
  • Maintains intended use as event space for use by River Authority, Alameda Theater and Texas Public Radio, and community organizations
  • Provides adequate seating and shade
  • Provides a large open public gathering place that could also provide programmed events below the street noise and in closer contact with the water
  • Provides ADA accessible low bank paseo for close connection to the creek
Financial

Re-design and construction fees: $890,000

B.2 – LIMITED EXPOSURE AND PRESERVATION OF CHURCH WALLS BUILDING WALLS AND LIMITED BUILDING FOOTPRINT

  • Requires modification of MSE (Mechanically Stabilized Earth) stone wall design to minimize impact on eastern portion of the church building stone walls.
  • Removes approximately 85% of historic stone walls
  • Church building floor area at street level approximately 300 sf.
  • Preservation treatment of stone walls requires excavation each side of walls and concrete retaining walls to allow preservation treatment and provide a ventilated cavity.
  • Structural glass walking surface allows church building walls to be visible day and night but protected from the elements. High level of installation and maintenance challenges.
  • No impact on plaza or paseo design.
  • Marginal reduction of trees and shade if no plantings within the church building footprint.

Design Option B.2 Impacts

Flood Control

Maintains project flood control goals:

  • 100-yr floodplain contained in channel
  • Channel capacity for flows from future development and drainage improvement projects
Cultural/Social
  • Maintains intended use as event space for use by River Authority, Alameda Theater and Texas Public Radio
  • Provides adequate seating and shade
  • Maintains intended use as event space for community organizations
  • Provides ADA accessible low bank paseo for close connection to the creek
Financial

High level of installation and maintenance challenges associated with structural glass

Re-design and construction fees: $1,280,000

The C studies has three options that retain and preserve a maximum amount of the A.M.E. Church and Soap Factory foundations and physical representation of the entirety of the church building footprint. The extensive structural support required to retain the stone walls at adjacent excavated grade levels and for protection from intermittent flood events adds an additional six feet to the outside of the church building perimeter. This magnifies the effective footprint of the church building and thus has the greatest impact on the flood control, pedestrian circulation and open space design goals of the Project.

To maintain open space for public gathering, performance and programmed events, the area of the plaza can be transferred to the floor area of the church building footprint but will need a different approach to its utilization than had been previously anticipated. Should tree planting near or within the church building footprint be restricted then there will be a reduction of available natural shade.

Option C.1 preserves 100% of the church building walls and allows the full representation of the church building footprint at street level. It significantly impacts the flood control goals of the SPCI project and the open space design character. Full retention of the western stone walls with the additional outboard perimeter structure narrows the width of the channel, blocks the continuation of the low bank paseo, and displaces the south access ramp to the north in the area between the church building and Houston Street.

Option C.2 preserves 75% of the church building walls by removing the west stone wall and portions of the north and south walls. Impact on flood control goals of the SPCI project is marginal. The full footprint of the church building is diminished by the removal of the western stone walls but allows continuation of the low bank paseo and connection to a modified design for the south access ramp that precludes the steps. The open space between the church building and Houston Street becomes a grassy sloped bank.

Option C.3 is like C.2 as it preserves 75% of the western stone walls but maintains the full church building footprint with a cantilevered deck over the paseo. To provide minimum head clearance of eight feet, the deck elevation is raised six inches above the street level and the paseo elevation is lowered by eighteen inches. Similar to C.2, the impacts on flood control and pedestrian circulation goals of the SPCI project are marginal and the open space between the church building and Houston Street becomes a grassy sloped bank.

C.1 – FULL PRESERVATION OF CHURCH WALLS BUILDING WALLS AND FULL BUILDING FOOTPRINT

  • Retains 100% of the stone walls and full building footprint.
  • Requires perimeter concrete pier walls to retain historic stone walls at adjacent excavated grades and as protection from intermittent flood events.
  • Reduces the channel width to 20’ – current narrowest channel width is 22’ and has the highest impact project flood control goals.
  • Decreases the free board of the channel to nothing for the 100-year flood event. This severely limits future development and ability to accept flows from other planned projects.
  • In larger storm events, this may impact the ability of the channel to contain flows.
  • Church building floor area at street level approximately 2,400 sf and provides public gathering place and performance/programmed events venue.
  • Eliminates the plaza and low bank paseo access to south access ramp and steps.
  • Preservation treatment of stone walls as appropriate and no exposure.
  • Church building walls delineated with stone pavers.
  • New access ramp design between Houston street and church building footprint.
  • Substantial reduction of trees and shade if no plantings within the church building footprint.

Design Option c.1 Impacts

Flood Control
  • Existing 100-yr flows contained within channel.
  • Additional flows from future development would cause the 100-yr flows to spill out of the channel into adjacent properties.
  • No capacity in the channel to accept flows from future drainage improvement projects.
  • Flood events above the 100-yr would cause flows to spill out of the channel into adjacent properties.
Cultural/Social
  • Reduction of seating and shade
  • Limits types of activations that can be accommodated on-site
  • Blocks low paseo view of the Interactive Water Wall feature
Financial

Re-design and construction fees: $2,310,000

C.2 – PARTIAL PRESERVATION OF CHURCH BUILDING WALLS AND PARTIAL BUILDING FOOTPRINT

  • Requires a perimeter concrete pier wall to retain stone walls at adjacent excavated grades and as protection from intermittent flood events.
  • Modified northwest corner encroaches the church building footprint and removes approximately 20% of historic stone walls. Adjusted channel width is 28’ and possible marginal impact on project flood control goals.
  • Decreases the free board of the channel to a couple inches for the 100-year flood event. This may limit some future development and ability to accept flows from other planned projects.
  • Church building floor area at street level approximately 2,250 sf and provides public gathering place and performance/programmed event venue.
  • Preservation treatment of stone walls as appropriate and no exposure.
  • Church building walls delineated with stone pavers.
  • Displaces the plaza – possible grassy slope new design as replacement with limited gathering/performance capacity.
  • Allows continuity of low bank paseo as designed with modified south access ramp design but no south steps.
    Substantial reduction of trees and shade if no plantings within the church building footprint.

Design Option c.2 Impacts

Flood Control
  • Existing 100-yr flows contained within channel.
  • Decreases the free board of the channel to 2 inches for the 100-year flood event.
  • Decreased channel capacity limits the amount of flow from future development and drainage improvement projects that can be contained within the channel.
  • Flood events above the 100-yr could cause flows to spill out of the channel into adjacent properties.
Cultural/Social
  • Reduction of seating and shade
  • Limits types of activations that can be accommodated on-site
  • Blocks low paseo view of the Interactive Water Wall feature
Financial

Re-design and construction fees: $2,220,000

C.3 – PARTIAL PRESERVATION OF CHURCH BUILDING WALLS AND FULL BUILDING FOOTPRINT

  • Requires a perimeter concrete pier wall to retain stone walls at adjacent excavated grades and as protection from intermittent flood events.
  • Modified northwest corner removes approximately 20% of historic stone walls but cantilevers the church building footprint.
  • Encroaches the church building footprint and adjusted channel width is 28’ and possible marginal impact on project flood control goals.
  • Decreases the free board of the channel to a couple inches for the 100-year flood event. This may limit some future development and ability to accept flows from other planned projects.
  • Church building floor area 6” above street level approximately 2,400 sf and provides public gathering place and performance venue.
  • Preservation treatment of stone walls as appropriate and no exposure.
  • Church building walls delineated with stone pavers.
  • Displaces the plaza – possible grassy slope new design as replacement with limited gathering/performance capacity.
  • Allows continuity of low bank paseo but redesigned to lower paseo for vertical clearance at the cantilever. Modified south access ramp design but no south steps.
  • Significant reduction of trees and shade if no plantings within the church building footprint.

Design Option c.3 Impacts

Flood Control
  • Existing 100-yr flows contained within channel.
  • Decreases the free board of the channel to 2 inches for the 100-year flood event.
  • Decreased channel capacity limits the amount of flow from future development and drainage improvement projects that can be contained within the channel.
  • Flood events above the 100-yr could cause flows to spill out of the channel into adjacent properties.
Cultural/Social
  • Reduction of seating and shade
  • Limits types of activations that can be accommodated on-site
  • Adds green space (lawn)
  • Provides ADA accessible low bank paseo for close connection to the creek
Financial

Re-design and construction fees: $2,270,000

The D study is a single option that enlarges the current design footprint into the terraced stone block wall of the plaza. The AME Church footprint is below the street level and above the plaza level, which more accurately approximates the historic floor level of the church building. The historic stone is preserved, and its inner surface exposed to view. The perimeter of the removed foundations is interpreted at the plaza level and paseo levels with stone inlay or pavers.

D – LIMITED PRESERVATION OF CHURCH WALLS BUILDING WALLS AND EXPANDED BUILDING FOOTPRINT

  • Removes southeastern portion of plaza MSE (Mechanically Stabilized Earth) stone wall to expand building footprint and create church building floor approximately 3’ below street level and closer to historic floor level.
  • Excavates floor area and exposes inside surface stone walls. Requires concrete retaining wall at outer perimeter of stone walls and preservation treatment.
  • Removes approximately 75% of historic stone walls.
  • Church building floor area at mid- street/plaza level approximately 500 sf for small gatherings.
  • Partial impact on plaza MSE (Mechanically Stabilized Earth) stone wall and no impact on paseo design.
  • Marginal reduction of trees and shade if no plantings within the church building footprint.

Design Option D.1 Impacts

Flood Control

Maintains project flood control goals:

  • 100-yr floodplain contained in channel
  • Channel capacity for flows from future development and drainage improvement projects
Cultural/Social
  • Maintains intended use as event space for use by River Authority, Alameda Theater and Texas Public Radio, and community organizations
  • Provides adequate seating and shade
  • Provides a large open public gathering place below the street noise and in closer contact with the water, allowing for more types of activations that can be accommodated on-site
  • Provides ADA accessible low bank paseo for close connection to the creek
Financial

Re-design and construction fees: $1,190,000

The E study also enlarges the current design footprint into the terraced stone block wall of the plaza by extending the footprint into the terraced stone block wall of the plaza. The floor area of the church building is at the street level and the perimeter walls are interpretively raised similar to option B.2. The street area is retained by a concrete wall that serves as a “break line” between the plaza and street levels. The perimeter of the removed foundations is interpreted at the plaza level and paseo with inlaid stone.

E – LIMITED PRESERVATION OF STONE WALLS AND FULL EXPRESSION OF CHURCH BUILDING FOOTPRINT

  • Removes approximately 82% of historic stone walls.
  • Church building floor area at street level approximately 500 sf for small gatherings.
  • Historic walls preserved below grade and delineated at street level with low stone walls.
  • Extends interpretation of the church building walls into the plaza with stone pavers that delineates the perimeter of the building footprint. Possible raised wall interpretation at northwest corner.
  • Removes southeastern portion of plaza MSE (Mechanically Stabilized Earth) stone wall to expand building footprint at street level.
  • Partial impact on plaza MSE (Mechanically Stabilized Earth) stone wall and plaza paving design. No impact on paseo design.
  • Marginal reduction of trees and shade if no plantings within the church building footprint.

Design Option E.1 Impacts

Flood Control

Maintains project flood control goals:

  • 100-yr floodplain contained in channel
  • Channel capacity for flows from future development and drainage improvement projects
Cultural/Social
  • Maintains intended use as event space for use by River Authority, Alameda Theater and Texas Public Radio, and community organizations
  • Provides adequate seating and shade
  • Provides a large open public gathering place below the street noise and in closer contact with the water, allowing for more types of activations that can be accommodated on-site
  • Provides ADA accessible low bank paseo for close connection to the creek

Financial

Re-design and construction fees: $1,220,000

Interpretive Plan Members

Sylvia Alcarez, Zona Cultural
Dan Arellano, Historian and Bexar County Historical Commission
Betty Bueche, Bexar County
Jerry Geyer, San Pedro Creek Subcommittee
Claudia Guerra, San Antonio Office of Preservation
David Haynes, Historian
Kay Hindes, San Antonio Office of Preservation
Mickey Killian, Bexar County Historical Commission
Michael W. Lackey, SARA board member
Dr. Carey Latimore, Trinity University
Jimmy LeFlore, San Antonio Office of Public Art
Clinton McKenzie, UTSA Center for Archaeological Research
Jo Anne Gonzalez Murphy, 1718 San Antonio Founding Families and Descendants
Maria Pfeiffer, Historian
Jesus “Corky” Rubio, Los Bexareños and Bexar County Historical Commission
John Phillip Santos, artist and historian
Mari Tamez, Canary Island Descendants
Stella Tenorio-De La Garza, San Antonio Conservation Society
Tomas Ybarra-Frausto, historian
Belinda Gavallos, Casa Navarro
Steve Tillotson, Munoc & Co.

Interpretive Plan author: Dr. Anne Toxey, Toxey McMillan & Associates

Focus Group Study Participants

Dr. Raymond Bryant, St. James AME Church Elder
Betty Bueche, Bexar Heritage and Parks, Bexar County Historical Commission
Everett Fly, Architect, Landscape Architect, SA African American Community Archive and Museum
Gary Houston, Bexar County Historical Commission, San Antonio Conservation Society
Dr. Cary Latimore, Trinity University, SPC Interpretive Plan Committee
Clinton McKenzie, UTSA, Bexar County Historical Commission
Vincent Michael, Executive Director San Antonio Conservation Society
Pastor Alvin Smith, St. James AME Church
Lon Taylor, Active St. James AME Church leadership, & African American Community Expert
Johnnie Davis, AME Church

We want to hear from you

  • Please select three design options based on which you would like to see constructed
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

VIRTUAL MEETINGS

Thursday, February 4, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/768127765

Dial In: +1 (872) 240-3311
Access Code: 768-127-765

Click to Join This Virtual Meeting

Tuesday, February 23, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/154347917

Dial In: +1 (646) 749-3122
Access Code: 154-347-917

Click to Join This Virtual Meeting

For questions regarding access to the public meetings contact Monica Treviño-Ortega
[email protected]    |   210-302-3257

Comments can be submitted to:
CESWF-PEE-C, ATTN: Ms. Leslie Crippen
Project Name: Archaeological Site 41BX2359 at San Pedro Creek Culture Park
Section 408 Request ID # : SWF-2015-00281
P.O. Box 17300
Fort Worth, TX 76102-0300
-or-
Email: [email protected]

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