A Snapshot of San Antonio During World War II.
San Antonio Conservation Society & the War

A group of women artists, led by Emily Edwards and Rena Maverick Green, founded the San Antonio Conservation Society in 1924. By 1941, the organization had become instrumental in seeing that the unique sites that now define San Antonio — the enlarged grounds at the Alamo, Mission San Jose, the Spanish Governor's Palace, the River Walk, and La Villita — endured.42

Mayor Maury Maverick found kindred spirts in the ladies of the Society, who shared his enthusiasm for restoring La Villita and furthering the Pan Amrican cause. Not only did the Society participate in various Pan American activities, such as the October 1939 Round Table conference, but in 1942, the Society managed to purchase the Jeremiah Dashiell House at 511 Villita Street.43

Many of the ladies knew the house well as the Villita Artists' Gallery, where they had met in 1938 to discuss the restoration of Villita Street. The city had refused to buy the 1850s house because of its poor condition, but the ladies saw its potential and invested most of the funds raised from their annual fall festival in a down payment. 1942 marked the first time that the Society held its popular fundraising event in Villita Plaza, which later evolved into the famous Fiesta event: "A Night in Old San Antonio." 44

The ladies, who continued to meet throughout the war, also contributed time and money to the war effort. Mrs. Lane (Amanda) Taylor, who served as Villita Chairman, also became the Society's "Chairman of Defense." Members did their part by raising money to buy war bonds, entertaining servicemen, and collecting cots and mattresses for bomb shelters.45 In 1944, the Society began sponsoring historical tours for servicemen and women at the USO's request, combining preservation with patriotism.46

About this Image:
1) San Antonio Conservation Society members and Mayor Maury Maverick standing in front of the San Martin House in La Villita on May 9, 1940. Left to right: Mary M. Beckmann, Ina Altgelt, Lee Pancoast, Dorothy Jarratt, Monnie Barclay, Mayor Maury Maverick.

2) A signed copy of Old Villita, a Writer's Project of the WPA. The book details the history of La Villita and its restoration. Mayor Maverick dedicated this copy to Emily Edwards, former president of the Society. Credit: Copyrighted 1939, City of San Antonio.

3) Looking towards the front of the restored Dashiell House. Jeremiah Dashiell was a paymaster for the U.S. Army. In 1858, he lost the shipment of gold he was transporting to Federal troops in Florida and was forced to sell this house in 1860.47

4) Photo shows former presidents of the Conservation Society left to right: Amanda Taylor (1931-1933 & 1939-1941), Emily Edwards (1924-1926), and Floy Fontaine (1949 -1951).

To Learn More:

View Catalog Record (Image 3) booklet in our catalog.

Courtesy of San Antonio Conservation Society Foundation.
Click to Enlarge
2) 1939 Old Villita Booklet2) 1939 Old Villita Booklet
3)19863) 1986
4)  19684) 1968