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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 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.
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).
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).