In response to the recent Rivard Report article, Miraflores: Dr. Urrutia’s Lost Garden, a local couple has come forward to return an object from the garden, which was recovered from a vacant field on the outskirts of San Antonio.

The object is a section from a group of pillars that used to flank the driveway just inside the Hildebrand entrance to the property.

Earlier this year, John Jimenez was in the middle of maintaining a vacant lot for an absentee owner on San Antonio’s Southside, when he came across the large concrete module that had been dumped underneath some brush.

The recovered section is a module of a pillar, as seen here in this view of its twin, an existing pillar at Miraflores.
The recovered section is a module of a pillar, as seen here in this view of its twin, an existing pillar at Miraflores. Credit: Courtesy / Kathryn O’Rourke

“I knew it was something special,” Jimenez said, “so I called someone to help me pull it out of the brush and loaded it up into my truck.”

The piece looked beautiful and right at home in the colorful garden owned by him and his wife, artist Pat Jimenez. The two have great appreciation for antiques and folk art, and Pat’s expressive folk art style is reminiscent of the Talavera tiles of Miraflores. But the couple decided to return the piece to its home, which they figured was likely Miraflores.

John and Pat are both native San Antonians. The Urrutia arch at the San Antonio Museum of Art is a familiar sight for them, and they often drive past Miraflores. They notified the City of San Antonio by email, but didn’t get any further than that.

“They said they would get back to me, but I never heard anything more,” John said.

When Pat read the article, she immediately contacted me; I, in turn, contacted the Brackenridge Park Conservancy. Miraflores is owned by the City and falls under the auspices of Brackenridge Park. The Conservancy provides stewardship and guidance to the City on park matters and augments the City’s funding efforts by raising private funds for preservation and enhancement.

“We are so pleased to have recovered this object, and we hope that if there are other objects out there that came from Miraflores … that people will contact us to return them,” said Brackenridge Park Conservancy Executive Director Lynn Bobbitt, who helped coordinate the return of the object.

This 1980 photograph shows the pillars on either side of the road from the Hildebrand entrance to the garden, which is no longer in existence.
This 1980 photograph shows the pillars on either side of the road from the Hildebrand entrance to the garden. The road is no longer in existence. Credit: Courtesy / Elise Urrutia

The module returned by Pat and John Jimenez bears the inscription “Dr. Aureliano Urrutia, Director de la Facultad de Medicina de México, 1895,” and commemorates the year Urrutia received his diploma qualifying him to teach and practice surgery in Mexico. He would practice for 19 years in Mexico, and for another 46 years in San Antonio, until his retirement in 1960 at the age of 88.

Upon our meeting to load the piece for transport, Pat said, “it was meant to come back to Miraflores through the Urrutia family.

“If there was a part of my history somewhere, I’d want someone to return it … now a piece of history has been brought to light and given meaning. It’s good karma,” she added.

The object has been moved to a warehouse storage location, courtesy of the San Antonio Conservation Society, until it can be properly relocated to Miraflores.

Part of the pillar at Miraflores that was found in a vacant lot earlier this year.
Part of the pillar at Miraflores that was found in a vacant lot earlier this year. Credit: Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / Rivard Report
Elise Urrutia

Elise Urrutia

Elise Urrutia is a long-time San Antonian, and writes on a variety of topics including history, art, and music. She and her father, Dr. A.A. “Bud” Urrutia, have explored the family’s history together...