1950s suburban street name part of Alamo story

I grew up on Schmeltzer Lane (try having to spell that in first grade). The next street was Gilbert Lane. When we first moved there in the 1960s, I believe there was a ranch owned by the Schmeltzer family where Dresden T’d in Blanco Road, next to Nimitz Middle School. I know that the Schmeltzer family goes back to the history of San Antonio, because the Hugo Schmeltzer building was practically attached to the Alamo. But I have always been curious to know if there was a Gilbert Schmeltzer. Since both streets started with the ranch, I assumed Gilbert was Mr. Schmeltzer’s first name. But I never managed to put that in place. Can you examine this?

German-born merchants Charles (or Carl) Hugo and G-for-Gustav (also spelled Gustavus) Schmeltzer went into business together in 1871, moving their wholesale and retail operations to a building on Commerce Street near of Presa Street the following year. A year after a devastating fire in 1883, Hugo & Schmeltzer purchased the two-story structure next to the Alamo which had been Honoré Grenet’s store and museum.

Although there is an ampersand between the names on their business sign in photographs taken of the store from 1885 onwards, their partnership was often mentioned in documents of the time as “Hugo Schmeltzer”, causing some concern. confusion, because it sounds like the name of a single individual. , like that of Grenet.

As Grenet’s store, what we now know as the Long Barrack / Convent building was clad in an exterior wall of wood cut out and painted to resemble fortifications reminiscent of a whimsical version of the battle of 1836 – “Arcades, octagonal turrets, crenellated cornices and even faux wooden cannons,” Frank Jennings wrote in the Journal of the Life and Culture of San Antonio, 1992. “On the west side of the building it had its name, ‘H . Grenet, ‘printed in large letters on its face.

Advertisements for the store, which used the Alamo church building as a warehouse, proclaimed Grenet to be a “wholesale grocer and general merchant, importer of wines, liquors and cigars, dry goods, boots and shoes, porcelain, tableware, clothing, glassware and novelty items.

Hugo & Schmeltzer had the decorations removed from the fake fortress and replaced Grenet’s ensign with one for their own company, which also sold a variety of products – including pecans, beer and beer. alcohol – from the site until 1905, during a movement to preserve Alamo structures and grounds. The traders sold the premises they had bought for $ 28,000 for more than double to Clara Driscoll, acting on behalf of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and reimbursed by the state, and moved to East Houston Street to be closer of the railroad for freight transfers.

Hugo & Schmeltzer sold in 1910 to Collins Co., a grocery store. The partners, well established in the city’s business community, were both among the founding directors of the National Bank of Alamo.

Schmeltzer, a former employee of the Menger Hotel who had fought in the Civil War and worked for another wholesaler on his return, was probably the owner of “G. Schmeltzer Ranch”, described in a transfer of ownership from 1905 to ca. seven miles northwest of town (downtown San Antonio).

With his wife, Emilie Victoria Eckhardt, Schmeltzer had six children: Gustave, Louise, Emily, Ida, Hermann and Antoinette. The daughters, respectively, were married into the equally important Wurzbach, Dwyer and Ingenhuett families… no Gilbert in the immediate family.

But the first developer in Cresthaven Heights, where Gilbert Lane first appeared in 1954, was Gilbert Kinder, who offered 109 homes with no down payment to veterans in a new neighborhood west of Blanco Road, just after Allena Village, where he had developed one a few years earlier.

According to his 2002 obituary, Kinder was the son of German immigrants, who grew up in Glen Burnie, Maryland, and had served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II. If he had seen “Schmeltzer” in deeds, he might have wanted to honor a former landowner with a street name.

As for Gilbert Lane, maybe it was for himself or maybe for someone whose name he bears. The street extended to Cresthaven Heights Unit II, a project of William R. “Bill” Craig, who built 85 more homes in the area and showed a model home at 267 Gilbert Lane. Both developers were in their mid-thirties at the time; both had children, but neither was named Gilbert (except for the middle name of one of Kinder’s sons).

Considering that Kinder’s development went on sale several months earlier, and Gilbert Lane spans both, it’s reasonable to assume that he ditched it and named it along with the other streets in phase one.

Anyone with more information on the street names in question can contact this column.

MOVING THEATER: Last Sunday’s column on the Varsity Drive-in Theater mentioned a contemporary theater, the San Pedro Outdoor Theater, and identified it as being located off US 281 near Bitters Road, at the location of the current Embassy 14 indoor theater complex – but that was only half true. Thanks to all the readers who wrote to remember the North Side’s first drive-in site at 7142 San Pedro Ave., his home for almost 20 years.

Retired history teacher Nell Mitchell recalled going to college as a Jefferson High School student in the 1950s, “but my memory of San Pedro doesn’t match. The one we went to was inside Loop 410, far as far north as Bitters. It was on the east side of the street, and I would say somewhere near Basse Road.

The original San Pedro drive-in was near the intersection with Rampart Drive, said Clarence Simpson, whose family business, Alamo Neon Co., made and maintained the neon tubes that lit up everyone’s murals. the Santikos open-air theaters. “John Santikos moved it so he could develop real estate at 7100 San Pedro,” Simpson said.

As Carol Reamer recalls, the San Pedro Outdoor was “just south of Rector (Drive). A Dodge dealership and an army surplus store took its place.

The last show at the first location was on July 20, 1966, San Antonio Light said on that date, with plans to move later that summer to a 50-acre site at the southwest corner of 281 and Bitters, with two screens – later three, Simpson said – and two separate parking lots, with a single entry on Bitters.

Santikos reportedly said the San Pedro Twin, further north, would be less distracted by surrounding traffic and lights and be cooler.

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