In 1940, Dr. Urrutia added the sculpture to the center of the reflecting pool and created a romantic garden room by adding trees and shrubs around the edges. Credit: Courtesy / Urrutia Photo Collection

In a few weeks the City of San Antonio will begin construction on a walkway through the heart of Miraflores, the historic garden of Dr. Aureliano Urrutia, my great grandfather, constructed from 1921-1940 on 4.5 acres just below the headwaters of the San Antonio River.

The walkway will restore both east/west and north/south pathways to form a continuous artery from the entrance at the Brackenridge Park pedestrian bridge to the entrance at the Hildebrand gate.

“I’m excited that the City Council is moving forward on this project, which will allow citizens access on a limited basis to see what a jewel this garden is,” said Lynn Bobbitt, executive director of the Brackenridge Park Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that provides stewardship for Brackenridge Park, of which Miraflores is a part.

The walkway will enter the garden at the Brackenridge Park pedestrian bridge (at left), circle around the Urrutia statue, and continue on to the Hildebrand gate (at top). Trees will line the walkway where it circles the statue and where it approaches gate. Credit: Courtesy / RVK Architects.

The work, Phase 4 of a number of recent improvements to the garden, will highlight a bronze statue of Urrutia, given to him in 1940 by a grateful patient from Mexico City.  Urrutia placed it at the center of a 36-foot reflecting pool and constructed around it an “outdoor room” with a brick walkway encircling the fountain, surrounded by “walls” of trees and shrubs.

The restored circular walkway in this area will utilize original pavers, which currently lie buried beneath the surface. The pool itself also is buried, with the exception of its exposed edge, and will remain so for the time being. New trees will be planted to restore the sense of the garden room.

The original driveway, coming in from the Hildebrand gate will also be restored, and will no longer be used as a driveway, but as a grand tree-lined walkway of decomposed granite.

“I’m very happy to see this happening,” said Dr. Aureliano A. “Bud” Urrutia, namesake and grandson of the garden’s creator. “I have great memories of roaming these grounds during my childhood, and am glad that the City is working to restore it for the public to experience.”

In its heyday, Urrutia used Miraflores as a private garden, as well as a place to entertain friends and community. He also allowed organizations to use the garden for various celebratory occasions.

In 1930, Urrutia held his 68th birthday party at Miraflores, which also marked the 400th anniversary of the first school in the Americas founded in Texcoco by Fray Pedro de Gante. Here guests gather around the circular pool dedicated to de Gante. Photo by HL Summerville, courtesy of Urrutia Photo Collection.
In 1930, Urrutia held his 58th birthday party at Miraflores, which also marked the 400th anniversary of the first school in the Americas founded in Texcoco by Fray Pedro de Gante. Here guests gather around the circular pool dedicated to de Gante. Credit: Photo by HL Summerville / Courtesy of Urrutia Photo Collection

With a price tag of approximately $350,000, City Council approved this phase in December 2016 under recommendation from the Historic and Design Review Commission. RVK Architects provided plans for the walkway project, based on a 2008 Master Plan, which was approved by the Texas Historical Commission. Alpha Building Corporation, a Minority/Women Business Enterprise, is contractor for the services.

Previous work on Miraflores includes the pedestrian bridge built from Brackenridge Park (2009), a Dionicio Rodríguez sculpture and a palapa restoration provided through a San Antonio Conservation Society grant (2011), and improvements in conjunction with flood mitigation, including restorations of a Rodríguez pedestrian entrance gate, the larger Hildebrand Gate entrance with replacement of some of its tile murals, and rebuilding of the perimeter stone wall along Hildebrand (2015).

The Urrutia arch was the original entryway into Miraflores from Broadway. Miraflores was originally a 15 acre property forming a rectangle extending east to west from Broadway to the San Antonio River; and north to south from Hildebrand, 2 blocks south to Allensworth. The property was cut in half with the building of the USAA building around 1960, and then later further reduced to its current size of 4.5 acres when it was cleared for parking lots. Photo courtesy of Urrutia Photo Collection.
The Urrutia arch was the original entryway into Miraflores from Broadway. Credit: Courtesy / Urrutia Photo Collection

Miraflores was acquired by the City of San Antonio in 2006 as parkland, and is the unique garden expression of Dr. Aureliano Urrutia, who came to San Antonio from Mexico City in 1914. The garden contains a number of significant objects reflecting important aspects of Mexican history, art and culture; some of which are on the Smithsonian Inventory of American Sculpture. It is on the National Register of Historic Places (2006), and is a State of Texas Archaeological Landmark (2009).

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...