War and Peace Drive Neighborhood Change
Government Hill is one of six San Antonio suburbs that developed during the "Gilded Age" of the city’s history, from 1890 to 1930 and features fine examples of turn-of-the-century architecture. The Government Hill Historic District is located immediately south of Fort Sam Houston and is bounded by E. Grayson Street to the north, N. New Braunfels Avenue to the east, IH-35 to the south, and Willow Street to the west. The turn-of-the-century one and two-story commercial structures along North New Braunfels Avenue effectively served as the area's main street.
The history of the Government Hill is integrally linked to that of Fort Sam Houston. Initial development of the fort began in the mid 1870s with a donation by the City of San Antonio of 93 acres to the War Department. Construction of Fort Sam Houston began in 1876, and by the late nineteenth century the surrounding area of Government Hill was home to over 12,000 people. The area grew at a prolific rate during the World War I era, and by 1918 Fort Sam Houston included 193 acres.
During and after World War II, residential development began to decline, and rapid growth of the commercial sector forced conversion of many architecturally significant single-family homes to multifamily housing. In the early 1950s, the area was split geographically by the construction of Interstate Highway 35, leading to further residential decline. Despite these impacts, today’s Government Hill neighborhood remains a unique and vibrant community with a diverse mix of architectural styles and building types.
The Gothic Revival-style St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 1018 E. Grayson was built in 1883 specifically to serve the military families in the Fort Sam area. The Bullis House Inn at 621 Pierce Street was constructed between 1909 and 1911 as the home of General John Lapham Bullis. The Classical Revival-style residence now serves as a Bed and Breakfast. The Romanesque Revival-style Terrell Castle or Lambermont as it was originally called, at 950 E. Grayson, was built in 1894 by noted San Antonio architect Alfred Giles for Edwin Terrell. It also serves as a Bed and Breakfast. A residential structure at 609 E. Carson Street originally served as the Faculty House for West Texas Military Academy. The academy, from which today’s Texas Military Institute evolved, was constructed in 1893 and included young Douglas MacArthur among its first class members.