MV Mystery Stones
Historic Mystery Stones in Monte Vista
Not exactly Stonehenge, but Monte Vista does have some historic stones that are enveloped in mystery. Several elaborate ornamental stone gateways that formerly adorned Monte Vista streets no longer exist. Documentation of the timing and removal have not been discovered; the location of the stones that were removed is also unknown. They seem to have disappeared without a trace.
In the early 1900’s the area that is now Monte Vista was growing, with each stage of development having its own name and boundaries. One of these was “Summit Place.” The northern boundary of Summit Place was Kings Highway, west was San Pedro, eastwas McCullough, and south was Summit Ave., a block west of Howard and south to Agarita.
In 1906, the city limits of San Antonio had reached Summit Avenue. Around this time, Mr. Ed Ross and Company acquired the property to be developed as Summit Place. It was purchased from Ben Stribling, whose mother, Eleanor A. Stribling of French Place, had owned the land in this area. It had been in her family since 1852.
A 1907 advertisement for Summit Place stated that “its elevation is the highest point of any in the city and an excellent view of every part of the city may be had therefrom.” The ad extolled the area’s natural beauty and location, and further stated that it would be “developed exclusively for families of refinement and social prominence.”
The attractiveness of Summit Place was to be greatly embellished by massive, stately gateways of bronze, brass, ornamental iron and red Pecos stone. There were to be three gates: the premier entrance on Howard at Summit Avenue had an ornate ironwork arch, manufactured in New York. This was the main entrance because the Trolley line ran down Howard Street, and Summit Ave was the end of the line. The two other gates were at each end of Kings Highway, at San Pedro and at McCullough. The entrance gates had pillars and were topped with large bronze lamps, ornamental iron, and plates naming the thoroughfare. The gates were to be put in place before the homes were built.
Of those three gateways, only a portion of one still exists. When you turn onto East Kings Highway from McCullough, you can see the picturesque remains of one of these columned entrance gates. There are no traces of the two other gates.
However, we do have documented tale of the San Pedro-Kings Highway gate. Ann Sims was interviewed a few years ago for the Monte Vista oral history program. She was born in 1925; she lived first on East Kings Highway and later at the home built by her father in 1927 at 331 West Kings Highway. She remembers that there were no stop signs at San Pedro, so when you went out those gates, there was a wreck almost every day. She said, “We loved to go to those wrecks. These great red gates at each end of Kings Highway were real big, and of course they weren’t closed in. Finally the police told them they had to take them down because they were traffic hazards.” So this may have been the reason for the dismantling. But when they were actually removed is a mystery.
In searching for images of the three Summit place gates, we found a 1940 photo of the gate across Howard at Summit with its very elaborate ironwork arch, proving the gate still existed then. We are not certain when the San Pedro-Kings Highway gates were removed. A photo of the McCullough-Kings Highway gate shows the bases that remain still had columns and lamps as late as 1956. A 1976 picture shows the McCullough entrance as it is today, without the pillars and lanterns.
The mystery remains as to when these gates were removed and where the massive stones were taken. So far, no documentation has been found to reference the removal.Rumor has circulated that the stones removed from these gates were used to line the paths at Olmos Basin Park. However our Historian, Gerry Frost, who is always looking for a piece of history, took me to see them and convinced me that they are not our stones. Although the Olmos Basin stones are of rusticated red Pecos stone, their form and detail do not coincide with any pictures of the original gates. So currently we have no other clues of the mystery.