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 Texas : Features : Preservation :

Bexar County's Old Rock House
Endangered by the Trans Texas Corridor

The Old Rock House: Co-Existing With A Piece of Historic Texas

by Analiese Kunert
Bexar County Historic Rock House Endangered by the Trans Texas Corridor
The "Old Rock House" admittedly has an energy all its own. As you drive up the mile driveway, the old windows peek out from above the trees. You are almost compelled to turn off the radio and roll down the windows, so that you can fully soak in the character of many generations past. The House commands a certain respect for having withstood time, the elements and many an Indian raid. The House has seen over 207 years of life, death and politics!
Bexar County's Old Rock House Endangered by the Trans Texas Corridor
Construction was began on the house around 1799 and completed about 1802. The house was built by Jose de la Garza who was married to Josefina Leal (one of the original Canary Island Settlers); de la Garza acquired the ranch property through his marriage to Leal. One can imagine how imposing the home must have seemed as it was located at the top of a wooded hill over looking the countryside. Directly in front of the home is a hand dug water well, lined entirely of rock from top to bottom. The well is at least 50 feet deep and has crystal clear water.
Old rock well, Bexar County, Texas
Looking down old rock well, Bexar County, Texas
The House is constructed entirely by "rock and rubble" construction and the walls are about 20 inches thick. On the east side of the house there is no stucco and the original exposed rock and burnt limestone mortar can be seen. All the wooden doors and window frames on the lower level are original as well as a large square beam over the living room. At one time there was a slanted roof over the front porch, which is currently under restoration. There is a large living room across the front of the house and a separate smaller kitchen and dining area across the back. Both rooms have very large stone fireplaces. A steep winding Spanish stairway leads the way to the upper story, which is divided in to two bedrooms.

The home of the influential De la Garza family served as a community center for early Texas life and church services were often held there. A county historian said the Spanish governor in 1818 granted De la Garza the right to mint small gold coins (worth the equivalent of an American nickel at the time) in a building at Houston and Soledad streets. Eighteen months later, the mint order was cancelled.

Many years have passed since De la Garza and his family lived in the home. The home has seen many families raised and gone. Welcoming new families with open doors. The home's most current resident, Robert Kunert, acquired the home in 1991 from Wallace J. Pirie. Robert is presently residing there with his wife, Analiese and their children Chloe and Zachary. Robert has been restoring the home since 1991 and Analiese has enjoyed restoring the gardens. "It is always an adventure gardening out here, everywhere you dig a new artifact pops up!" says Analiese.

The property surrounding the home (about 30 acres) boasts a centuries old Pecan orchard and at least eight Live Oak trees spanning about 450-700 years old. "There are a couple of Mesquite trees out here that I can not even begin to guess the age of. We are in the process of having the trees dated and chronicled by a licensed arborist. The property has been updated with a very large Koi pond with waterfall and several other ponds with waterfalls throughout the multi-level gardens. "Robert and I really have a vision together to keep with the style of the home. We let the home speak to us and then we create beauty around it to enhance the beauty within."

The Kunert's are currently awaiting historical designation for the Old Rock House with the National Historical Registry. "The San Antonio Conservation Society has been a wonderful group to work with, they have really helped us to realize what a responsibility we have been blessed with in ensuring the historical preservation of this home and surrounding property for future generations of Texans."

To note: Sadly enough the Trans Texas Corridor project is slated to run highway directly over the old Rock House and its surrounding historical property. This is not a unique story. There are hundreds of homes and properties that will be condemned and taken by the Texas government for this highway project. In effect, tearing apart Texas communities and families that have been on their land for generations. If you have not heard of the Trans Texas Corridor project, don't feel left out; most of Texas has been left in the dark regarding the project. The project never went to a vote for public approval.


January 5, 2007
"Excerpts of information taken from newspaper articles written by Virginia Beare and Nancy Perdue."
Submitted by Analiese Kunert
Photos taken November 22, 2006 Submitted by Analiese Kunert

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