San Antonio Law Office ‘Rises Above’ Encroaching Development

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Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Stuck in the middle of wraparound construction, the Law Offices of George Scharmen at 315 Dwyer Ave. is festooned with images from the animated film Up.

The historic landmark at 315 Dwyer, steps from the courthouse, was once the tallest structure in that part of downtown San Antonio.

Today, dwarfed on all sides by construction cranes and towering development, the charming, yellow brick house looks like it could escape the irritations of progress with a spray of colorful balloons fastened to the roof.

It just might be San Antonio’s own version of the house in the heartwarming Pixar film Up.

Now with images of the film’s regretful widower, balloons, and “Russell the Wilderness Explorer” plastered to the front, the house looks even more like it could drift off to South America for fantastical adventures fulfilling its destiny as more than a humble law office.

“All the clients that would come in, they couldn’t locate us, and we would tell them it’s the yellow house from the movie,” said Elsa Torres, a paralegal at the Law Offices of George Scharmen, who came up with the idea. “The construction has been hiding our office and now, with the pictures, everybody loves it.”

Construction surrounding the designated historic landmark in the middle of the 300 block of Dwyer Avenue began in 2018 as Austin-based developer Argyle Residential started on its newest residential development, a wraparound design reaching over 64 feet high, and a five-story parking garage. 

The development will retain the name of the complex of office buildings, Heritage Plaza, that once occupied the site. The complex was demolished in 2017.

That same year, attorney George Scharmen bought the house, said to be the former home of a bishop or nun, after having leased space there for his criminal defense law practice. The demolition of the Heritage Plaza building nearly brought down the yellow house as well.

“They got down to their last wall, which is just 6 feet from my building, and knocked the wall onto my building, and it was just devastating to the building because it’s an old brick structure,” he said. “I’m lucky it didn’t fall down.”

Repairs were made, but Scharmen left one remnant of the damage.

In the chaos of bricks and rocks falling into the building that “looked like an explosion,” Scharmen said, a small rock blew through the transom window above one of the doors.

“It looked like they cut the glass with a glasscutter,” he said. “So I just left it there … to add to the history of the building.”

The balloons on the Dwyer house today are cardboard cutouts. But like the animated Up house, which drifted away into the clouds and landed in Paradise Falls, the little yellow house is perhaps right where it was meant to be all along.

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