Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Japanese Tea Gardens In San Antonio

Last weekend my wife and I spent the weekend in San Antonio, TX for her 5 year reunion at Trinity University. Between alumni events, my wife and I were able to sneak away and spend a few hours at the Japanese Tea Garden right across the highway from the university.

Currently, the gardens are being renovated, and you can see how hard they are working at keeping and making this a wonderful place to visit. Of course we chose a time of year when most of the flowers were
 already spent but it was still very beautiful and I will planning to visit next spring, if we have the time. My favorite part of the garden is all the hardscaping and the way the park is sunken into an hold rock quarry.

History: A complete history can be found at Japanes Tea Garden History.

In 1881 the San Antonio Water Works Company, through its president, George W. Brackenridge, donated 199 acres to the City of San Antonio to be used as public park. In 1901 the park was officially opened and today still holds the name of Brackenridge park. At this time their was a working operating rock quarry west of the park on land owned by the City of San Antonio. The stone cutters had been leasing this land since the mid 1800s. Then in 1908 Quarry company closed down the site after it needed to bring in rail lines to expand the project. Instead they purchased a new site. 

In 1915, another 11 acres were donated, the land immediately adjacent to the abandoned quarry for a city park.  City Parks Commissioner, Ray Lambert came up with the idea of a lily pond would later became the Japanese Tea Garden.  From July 1917 and May 1918, the City used prison labor to turn the quarry into complex that had walkways, stone arches bridges, an island, a Japanese pagoda. Local residents donated bulbs, exotic plants were donated by local nurseries, and the roof used palm leaves from the palm trees in the city parks. Ray Lambert only spent 7,000 to create his ideas 

Over the years, the park made changes to the design and improvements were made. Currently this is what the park looks like as of October 10th, 2008.


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