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.
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