President’s Winter Letter 2017
Monte Vista Historical Association Accomplishments
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
When I look back on 2016, I am AMAZED at how much happened in the Monte Vista Historic District in one year! Under the clever leadership of Paula Bondurant, we had a lot of first time events, celebrated our cherished monthly and annual events, and we accomplished some things that strengthened the Monte Vista Historical Association for years to come.
In the category of firsts, Clint Lawson and Tony Garcia co-chaired the Belknap Place Centennial, celebrating the oldest concrete street in Texas. This event was a wonderful success, celebrating historical preservation and educating so many on the long- lasting qualities of concrete. Diane Fuqua, an accomplished childhood learning expert, created our first-ever Summer program for St. Anthony Catholic School students. This program involved some classroom time learning about the history of Monte Vista and its distinctive architecture, and was followed by a stroll through the neighborhood to view first-hand some of our beautiful homes. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if this inspired a child to become an architect, builder or future Monte Vista property owner? Azulejos y Enchiladas, under the leadership of Susan Toomey Frost and with the generosity of Cappy Lawton, was an event that brought together the efforts of MVHA, the Landa Gardens Conservancy and the San Antonio Public Library Foundation to raise funds to restore the tile planter at the Landa Library. Look for information soon on the unveiling of this beauty! Gloria Kemper, Mickey Amacker and Paula Bondurant convinced many of us to clean out our attics, basements, breakfronts and garages to donate the treasures to the Grande Dame Opens Her Attic Auction held at Vogt Auction House, raising much needed funds for MVHA. Melody Hull and Teresita Ayala worked with the fine folks at the Landa Library to treat young patrons to a frighteningly good time at the first ever Halloween Landa Boo!
An historic district like Monte Vista loves traditions, and we celebrated them all in 2016! We start every year by showing our affection for Monte Vista with the I Love Monte Vista! membership party. For the second year in a row, Dick and Leith Negley opened their beautiful home for this celebration. Summer Greathouse, less than two months after bringing a new life into Monte Vista, chaired the enormously popular Easter Egg Hunt. It seemed like thousands of children took part in the fun, but maybe it was more like a couple of hundred! Gerry Frost led a very interesting talk and walk about Summit Place that was enjoyed by all that attended. The Fourth of July is always a favorite holiday in Monte Vista, celebrated with a parade, picnic and lots of patriotic pomp and circumstance. Teresita Ayala and Ryan Reed did such a fine job with this event that we recruited this unstoppable team to co-chair the 2017 Fall Home Tour. We closed out the year with a festive Holiday Party, so graciously hosted by Carla Morrison, where we were greeted by the best tree-lighting display for miles around! And in between these celebrations, Diane Fuqua organized six Third Thursday Gatherings, which were hosted in the homes of neighbors, except for Fiesta which was celebrated at On Main-Off Main. Sadly, 2016 was the last celebration at this location as our dear friends, Oscar and Bill have decided to close their doors and retire. I hear that one of them has lots of plans to travel and the other plans to rest awhile! Hopefully they will be doing lots of both together. We thank both fine men for their support of Monte Vista and wish them well in retirement. 2017 holds a wonderful surprise for our April Third Thursday.
We did a bit of business in 2016 as well. Communication is so important in a neighborhood, and we continue to work on ways to reach our residents that are both traditional and convenient. This beautiful newsletter has been a labor of love by Rosanne White, with the help of our incredibly talented photographer (and pie baker) David Smith. Tertia Emerson and I worked with a professional webmaster to launch a new website in 2016 that is the go to place for information on the Historic District, Property Improvements, Home History, Events, Membership, Sponsorships and helpful documents. MVHA and the Landa Library have a long history going back to 1995. In 2015 that history was close to coming to an end, but Clint Lawson and I spent a great deal of time working with Ramiro Salazar, Director of the San Antonio Public Library, on an agreement that not only secures our home at the Landa Annex for several years, but also created the foundation for an enhanced relationship with the Landa and the San Antonio Public Library. Communication is key to good relationships! Under the thoughtful leadership of our treasurer, Cee Parker and the Financial Advisory Committee, we opened an account with South Texas Money Management to begin growing a permanent fund. This fund was originally named Special Projects with the intent of using the income to further our mission of historic preservation and education. With the passing of Emily Thuss, one of the founders of the Monte Vista Historical Association, we changed the name to the Founders Fund. While donations or memorials may be made to the fund in anyone’s name, we felt a debt of enormous gratitude to the brave folks who fought so hard back in the early 70’s to establish the Monte Vista Historical Association. Without their effort, it is frightening to think of what might have happened to our homes and history. And last, but certainly not least, Paula Bondurant has diligently represented MVHA at countless Tier 1 Neighborhood Coalition meetings. This is a mutual-support gathering of neighborhoods: Monte Vista, River Road, King William, Tobin Hill, Beacon Hill, Dignowity Hill, Jefferson/Monticello, Mahncke Park, Keystone, and others. Within the coalition, neighborhoods help each other track relevant City activities and speak up for each other on zoning, planning, preservation, and other issues. We have already seen success from this group, and I know it will be key to making sure our neighborhoods are heard loud and clear by the City of San Antonio.
That was a long list and I couldn’t name every person who worked on these events or projects, but please know that your time, hard work and talents are greatly appreciated. None of these things are possible without the support of our membership or the many residents and businesses that regularly support our efforts—no matter how unusual they may be. In the words of one sponsor, “I’ve never sponsored concrete. I’m going to send them a check!” We love you all and we thank you!
What does 2017 hold? It’s hard to say. What I do know is that our Board of Directors promises to continue with our wonderful tradition of celebrations and social events. We are especially looking forward to a lovely Home Tour filled with lots of great homes with some clever new events. Mark your calendars for November 3 and 4, for the cocktail gala and Home Tour, respectively. If you are looking for ways to get involved, Home Tour is a great way to support MVHA and meet wonderful people. We will continue to work hard at our mission of historic preservation and education. We will be available to property owners that need advice on plans for property improvements. We will use our communication tools to keep you informed about what’s going on in Monte Vista and telling you how you can be involved.
Monte Vista is filled with historic homes, but also neighbors, friends and businesses. In a word, people. I encourage you to get to know your neighbors, make a new friend, patronize a local business. Being a good neighbor is not just about keeping your property in great shape, not being too noisy or keeping an eye out for crime. It’s getting to know people as you take your daily walk. It’s showing up at events to get to know people from other streets. It’s having a gathering on your block to make sure that all the neighbors know each other. While we may have differences in our lifestyles, politics, religion or generation; we all have a love of Monte Vista in common and that is the tie that binds!
With love of Monte Vista, Dolly