A Survival Story
San Antonio, Texas
Cottage Thumbs it's Chimney at the Alamodome
in the early 1890s, this modest little house has changed little in
its nearly 115 years. As land was being cleared for the Alamodome,
someone took notice (or pity) on this tiny abode that was slated for
Just in the nick of time, it was declared "historically significant"
by the San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation and instantly
became a problem (to the developers) out of porportion to it's size.
Guevara's painting of the Roatzsch-Griesenbeck House
Copyright Jacinto Guevara
an article by Paula Allen in the San Antonio Express-News,
the house is identified as the Roatzsch-Griesenbeck House and the
(former) address is given as 123 Nevada Street. The lot had been purchased
from the city in the 1850s and went through a series of owners. Four
decades later August H. Roatzsch purchased the lot and built the house.
August was listed in the city directory as a carpenter. It was sold
in 1901 to Arthur Griesenbeck, who supplies the second half of the
The simple utilitarian design was typical of the period, with no driveways
or garages to consider. Excavations for the dome allowed the land
to be examined by archaeologial teams who didn't uncover anything
"overly significant" but were able to determine the cultural changes
of the neighborhood. Over the years, the population shifted from Germans
to Poles to Mexicans and African-Americans. The house's various occupants
were working-class or tradesmen and included bricklayers and at least
one barber. The proximity to downtown and the Alamo Iron Works (the
company who had owned most of the land the dome now occupies) insured
that the house was seldom, if ever, vacant.
Antonio's Roatzsch-Griesenbeck House
Photo by John Troesser, June 2007
it sits, piquing the curiosity of those passing by. As of this writing
(October, 2007) there’s no sign to explain its presence, let alone
a historical marker. There has been talk of converting it into an
office for Alamodome employees, but that remains to be seen.
Impressed by the modest cottage, San Antonio
Guevara took time out from his current project of painting
railroad depots to capture the Roatzsch-Griesenbeck House in oil.
Copyright John Troesser