The Heart of Bexar County

Restoration of the Bexar County Courthouse. By Nelson and Tracy Wolff. Published by HPN Books a division of Ledge Media © 2020

Restoration of the Bexar County Courthouse. By Nelson and Tracy Wolff. Published by HPN Books a division of Ledge Media © 2020


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Restoration <strong>of</strong> the<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse<br />

by Nelson and Tracy Wolff<br />

THE HEART OF BEXAR COUNTY is a publication <strong>of</strong> <strong>The</strong> Hidalgo Foundation.<br />

HPNbooks<br />

A division <strong>of</strong> Ledge Media<br />

San Antonio, Texas

First Edition<br />

Copyright © 2020 HPNbooks<br />

All rights reserved. No part <strong>of</strong> this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing<br />

from the publisher. All inquiries should be addressed to HPNbooks, 11535 Galm Road, Suite 101, San Antonio, Texas, 78254. Phone (800) 939-5311, www.hpnbooks.com.<br />

ISBN: 978-1-944891-70-1<br />

Library <strong>of</strong> Congress Card Catalog Number: 2019954563<br />

THE HEART OF BEXAR COUNTY—Restoration <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse<br />

authors:<br />

layout and cover design:<br />

contributing writer for “Sharing the Heritage”:<br />

managing editor<br />

Tracy Wolff<br />

Nelson Wolff<br />

Christopher D. Sturdevant<br />

Joe Goodpasture<br />

Loretta Fulton<br />

Ron Lammert<br />

publisher, chief executive <strong>of</strong>ficer and president:<br />

vice president:<br />

project manager:<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice manager:<br />

production:<br />

HPNbooks<br />

Daphne Fletcher<br />

Rafael Ramirez<br />

Joe Neely<br />

Donna Mata<br />

Colin Hart<br />

Christopher D. Sturdevant<br />

Craig Mitchell<br />

Kristin T. Williamson<br />

2 ✦ T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

B e x a r C o u n t y C o m m i s s i o n e r C o u r t F 3


FOREWORD ...........................................................................................................7<br />

I. EVOLUTION OF THE CITY HALL AND THE COURTHOUSE .................................8<br />

II.<br />


III. THE DECLINE OF THE COURTHOUSE ...................................................................18<br />

IV. THE HIDALGO FOUNDATION ................................................................................23<br />

V. THE FIRST PHASE, THE EXTERIOR .......................................................................27<br />

VI. THE CHILDREN’S COURT ............................................................................30<br />

VII.<br />

THE FIRST RESTORED COURTROOM..............................................................34<br />

VIII. THE COURTYARD AND MAIN PLAZA .............................................................37<br />

IX. LADY JUSTICE ...........................................................................................40<br />

X. THE DOUBLE HEIGHT COURTROOM..............................................................45<br />

XI. THE REMOVAL OF THE GONDECK ADDITIONS ...............................................51<br />

XII. BEXAR COUNTY ARCHIVES BUILDING ...........................................................56<br />

XIII. BEXAR COUNTY HERITAGE CENTER ............................................................60<br />

XIV. CONCLUSION ............................................................................................65<br />

4 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y


ABOUT THE AUTHORS ..........................................................................................66<br />

APPENDIX ...........................................................................................................68<br />

A. ARCHITECTS & CONTRACTORS ...............................................................68<br />

B. RESTORATION AWARDS ...........................................................................69<br />

C. HILDALGO FOUNDATION FUNDRAISING ....................................................70<br />

D. BEXAR COUNTY ORGANIZATION CHART ...................................................72<br />

E. HISTORICAL COMMISSION.......................................................................73<br />

UNDERWRITERS ...................................................................................................74<br />

T a b l e o f C o n t e n t s F 5

q<br />

Architectural drawing <strong>of</strong> the Courthouse.<br />

6 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y


For the last 17 years, as a consultant and then director <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Heritage Department,<br />

I have devoted a large part <strong>of</strong> my time to the restoration <strong>of</strong> our courthouse. I was educated, trained<br />

and prepared for the job, but I could not have succeeded without Nelson and Tracy’s tenacity and<br />

determination to meet all challenges to complete the work.<br />

And it was not easy. I was threatened with contempt by a few <strong>of</strong> the Civil District Judges when<br />

they did not like some <strong>of</strong> our decisions. Nelson stood up to defend me and pushed the projects<br />

forward. When the projects were concluded, these same judges who previously criticized me<br />

then complimented our work. We have won 23 awards for design, construction, and restoration <strong>of</strong><br />

the courthouse.<br />

Together Nelson and Tracy have creative ideas, a can do/why not attitude, a strategic political<br />

barometer; an internal gyroscope that unfailing directs them to do the right thing. It has been an<br />

honor, challenging, and fun working with them. I have been blessed pr<strong>of</strong>essionally and personally<br />

to be on their team.<br />

We are all our best when our best is expected <strong>of</strong> us. We gave it our best and have restored San<br />

Antonio’s greatest historical structure. For generations to come our citizens <strong>of</strong> all ages, backgrounds,<br />

and beliefs will be proud <strong>of</strong> our county’s heritage when they come to see this magnificent building<br />

that represents <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Betty Bueche, 2018<br />

F o r e w o r d F 7

I<br />

E V O L U T I O N O F C I T Y H A L L<br />

A N D T H E C O U R H O U S E<br />

by Tracy Wolff<br />

q<br />

<strong>The</strong> north side <strong>of</strong> Main Plaza, 1849,<br />

by former <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Commissioner W. G. M. Samuel<br />

<strong>County</strong> and city government <strong>of</strong>fices have always been located in historic civic center buildings in<br />

San Antonio near Plaza De las Islas (Main Plaza). <strong>The</strong> plaza was formed in 1731, when 19 families<br />

from the Spanish Canary Islands came to San Antonio to create our first city government. <strong>The</strong>y<br />

surrounded the plaza with their homes and in 1734 they laid the corner stone <strong>of</strong> San Fernando<br />

Cathedral on the west side <strong>of</strong> the plaza.<br />

Eight years later in 1742, they built Casa Reales as the first permanent governmental structure in<br />

San Antonio. It was a one-story adobe structure with dirt floors located on the southeast corner <strong>of</strong><br />

Plaza de las Islas. It was rebuilt in 1779 by Don Jose Antonio Curbelo, Alcalde de Villa San Fernando<br />

de <strong>Bexar</strong>. In 1783 a jail was built behind it. Both the city and county shared Casa Reales.<br />

8 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

For 108 years, Casa Reales was the scene <strong>of</strong><br />

numerous violent actions. <strong>The</strong>y used a whipping<br />

post to punish people. In 1840, a deadly fight<br />

broke out between representatives <strong>of</strong> the Texas<br />

government and the Comanche nation.<br />

On September 6, 1850 construction started on<br />

a new City-<strong>County</strong> building in Military Plaza, one<br />

block west <strong>of</strong> Casa Reales. It was a two-story<br />

masonry building with a hipped ro<strong>of</strong>. A district<br />

courtroom was located on the second floor. It<br />

became known as the “Bat Cave,” because a large<br />

colony <strong>of</strong> bats roosted in the ro<strong>of</strong> rafters and <strong>of</strong>ten<br />

disrupted government business. A new jail was<br />

built in the walled yard behind the Bat Cave.<br />

q<br />

Top, left: East Side <strong>of</strong> Main Plaza<br />

by former <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Commisioner W. G. M. Samuel,<br />

showing Casa Reales, the first <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Couthouse.<br />



Top, right: <strong>The</strong> French Building—<br />

1859 on Plaza de las Islas and<br />

Dwyer Street.<br />

Left: “<strong>The</strong> Bat Cave”—1851 on<br />

Military Plaza, <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s second<br />

courthouse, also housed City.<br />






C h a p t e r I F 9

q<br />

Above: Bottom, right: <strong>The</strong> Masonic<br />

Hall, 1872.<br />

Below: 1681 Courthouse Old<br />

Freemasons Building.<br />

In 1868, the city and county moved into the<br />

French building on Dwyer Street at the southeast<br />

corner <strong>of</strong> Plaza de las Islas. <strong>The</strong> building once was<br />

the regional headquarters <strong>of</strong> the Confederacy. <strong>The</strong><br />

jail remained next to the Bat Cave.<br />

In 1872, the Commissioners Court decided<br />

to separate from the city and purchased the<br />

three-story Masonic Building on Soledad Street,<br />

one half block from the plaza and just north <strong>of</strong><br />

the French Building. It had previously housed<br />

the original Alamo Lodge No. 44 A.F. and A.M.,<br />

the oldest Masonic Lodge in Texas.<br />

In 1878, the county built a new jail on<br />

Cameron Street, a block north <strong>of</strong> the current<br />

city hall. <strong>The</strong> two-story limestone structure<br />

1 0 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

housed a wooden scaffold used as the gallows.<br />

In 1911, two stories were added along with<br />

Spanish style Bell Towers. <strong>The</strong> last hanging<br />

occurred in 1923 when the state took over<br />

executions using an electric chair. In 1926 it<br />

was expanded to five floors. <strong>The</strong> building still<br />

stands today and has been converted into<br />

a hotel.<br />

Casa Reales, the Bat Cave, the French<br />

building, and the Masonic building have all<br />

been lost to time. <strong>The</strong> only remaining partial<br />

structure left is the original south wall <strong>of</strong> Casa<br />

Reales that now stands as part <strong>of</strong> a building on<br />

the southeast side <strong>of</strong> the plaza.<br />

In the place <strong>of</strong> these former seats <strong>of</strong> local<br />

government, the City <strong>of</strong> San Antonio built a new<br />

city hall in 1885 and the <strong>County</strong> built a new<br />

courthouse in 1892. <strong>The</strong>se two historic<br />

buildings are still standing near the plaza and<br />

have been in continuous use ever since.<br />

Bryan Callaghan Jr., who was elected mayor<br />

in 1885, was a shrewd politician. He created a<br />

political machine that demanded loyalty to him<br />

and enabled him to build city hall, expand city<br />

services, modernize the police and fire<br />

departments and build a major sewer system.<br />

Constructed in 1885, the three-story City<br />

Hall is located on Flores Street, just one block<br />

west <strong>of</strong> Main Plaza. This site is where the<br />

Spaniards in 1718 built the presidio when they<br />

first settled in San Antonio. San Pedro Creek<br />

flows on the back side <strong>of</strong> City Hall.<br />

City Hall was a small, renaissance revival<br />

jewel <strong>of</strong> a building with an ornate octagonal<br />

tower and dome with a clock centered on top <strong>of</strong><br />

the ro<strong>of</strong>. Alternating round and square turreted<br />

towers were constructed on the four corners <strong>of</strong><br />

the building.<br />

q<br />

Above: Cornerstone for the <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Courthouse.<br />

Below: City Hall, 1892.<br />

C h a p t e r I F 1 1

q<br />

Architect’s Drawing <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Courthouse.<br />

In the 1920s city <strong>of</strong>ficials did significant<br />

damage to the 1885 renaissance revival City<br />

Hall. <strong>The</strong>y removed the tower and octagonal<br />

dome and four turrets tower that set atop<br />

City Hall. <strong>The</strong>y then added a non-descript<br />

fourth floor.<br />

In 1891, the <strong>County</strong> decided to build a new<br />

courthouse because they had gained substantial<br />

new responsibilities and authority under the<br />

1876 state constitution and needed more space.<br />

<strong>The</strong> state constitution charged the county with<br />

building a courthouse, maintaining roads and<br />

bridges, administering public welfare programs,<br />

coordinating elections, setting a tax rate, issuing<br />

bonds, and adopting a county budget. A 5-<br />

member Commissioners Court was charged<br />

with managing and setting policy for the county.<br />

With its new responsibilities it was clear that a<br />

new courthouse was needed.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Commissioners Court purchased land on<br />

the south side <strong>of</strong> Main Plaza from Joseph Dwyer<br />

and John Kampmann. Architect J. Riley Gordon<br />

and D. E. Laub were chosen by the Court to<br />

design the Courthouse.<br />

<strong>The</strong> groundbreaking was held on August 4,<br />

1891. <strong>County</strong> Judge Samuel W. McAllister, laid<br />

the cornerstone on December 17, 1892. Samuel<br />

is the grandfather <strong>of</strong> Walter W. McAllister who<br />

served as mayor from 1961 to 1971.<br />

In the same year that the corner stone was<br />

laid, Callaghan resigned as mayor and<br />

successfully ran for county judge. For the next<br />

five years from 1892 to 1897 he oversaw the<br />

construction <strong>of</strong> the four-story Romanesque<br />

1 2 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

Revival Style Courthouse, located just one block<br />

away from city hall.<br />

Unlike city hall, the courthouse was a large<br />

grand building, built with Texas granite and<br />

Pecos red sandstone and red clay ro<strong>of</strong> tiles. <strong>The</strong><br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse included roundedarch<br />

windows and doorways reflecting the<br />

Victorian style. It had carved surfaces and a<br />

Spanish-tiled ro<strong>of</strong>.<br />

<strong>The</strong> courthouse is entered by ascending<br />

spacious granite steps, with immense granite<br />

columns and bronze lamps on each side, to a<br />

platform floored in marble with granite<br />

balustrades. Two corner towers flank the front <strong>of</strong><br />

the Courthouse. <strong>The</strong> northeast tower is 134-feet<br />

high and topped by a beehive dome and wrapped<br />

in observation decks. <strong>The</strong> other is a rectangular<br />

shape with an observation deck and a hipped ro<strong>of</strong>.<br />

When it opened on January 27, 1897 the<br />

magnificent structure symbolized the principles<br />

<strong>of</strong> liberty, justice and independence as well as<br />

the hope and pride <strong>of</strong> <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>. It was the<br />

grandest building in San Antonio, and still is.<br />

Nelson and I believe that historic buildings<br />

embody human thoughts, aspirations and beliefs<br />

that evolve over generations. We are a part <strong>of</strong> the<br />

buildings as much as the physical structure itself.<br />

We believe our community should be judged by<br />

how we take care <strong>of</strong> historic buildings, especially<br />

public buildings that define the evolution <strong>of</strong> our<br />

local governance.<br />

But sadly, over the years, our community has<br />

let time and neglect do significant damage to<br />

both city hall and our courthouse. When Nelson<br />

became mayor in 1991 and then county judge in<br />

2001, we were determined to restore these<br />

neglected historic treasures. <strong>The</strong> restoration<br />

would remind our citizens <strong>of</strong> their historical roots<br />

and help them to better determine our future.<br />

Nelson is the first person to serve as both<br />

Mayor and <strong>County</strong> Judge since Mayor Callaghan<br />

100 years earlier. Nelson also followed in<br />

Callaghan’s footsteps when he first led the effort to<br />

restore city hall as well as the historic city<br />

municipal building located on Main Street across<br />

from the west side <strong>of</strong> Main Plaza.<br />

q<br />

Below: <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse<br />

(left) and the San Fernando<br />

Cathedral (right).<br />

C h a p t e r 1 F 1 3

II<br />

R E S T O R A T I O N O F C I T Y H A L L A N D T H E<br />

M U N I C I P A L P L A Z A B U I L D I N G<br />

by Nelson Wolff<br />

q<br />

Front view <strong>of</strong> the San Fernando<br />

Cathedral (left) and the historic<br />

Municipal Plaza Building (right).<br />

<strong>The</strong> historic Municipal Plaza Building on Main Plaza was originally the Frost Bank Building.<br />

<strong>The</strong> 12-story building was completed in 1922. It included a grand three-story high bank lobby<br />

with a mezzanine, an ornamental plaster ceiling, cast stone arcades, a marble stairway and Tiffany<br />

lights. In 1973, Frost Bank moved to their newly constructed 22-story tower located a block away<br />

on Houston Street.<br />

Under the leadership <strong>of</strong> Mayor Henry Cisneros and City Manager Lou Fox the city purchased the<br />

Frost Bank Building in 1986, the year before I became a member <strong>of</strong> the city council. City <strong>of</strong>fices were<br />

located in the top 10 floors and Luby’s Cafeteria continued to occupy the former bank lobby under<br />

a lease agreement that they had with Frost Bank.<br />

I had lunch several times in the cafeteria until it closed in 1989. Luby’s left abandoned equipment<br />

and dangling electrical wires strung throughout the facility.<br />

After being elected mayor in 1991, I asked City Manager Alex Briseno and City Architect Tim<br />

Palomera to join me in a walk through the former bank lobby to determine if it could be converted<br />

into a City Council Chamber. <strong>The</strong> present council chamber was a small cramped, dungeon like space<br />

located in city hall.<br />

1 4 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

While we were dismayed about the condition<br />

<strong>of</strong> the former bank lobby, we could see how it<br />

could be turned into a stunning council<br />

chamber. I asked Alex to come up with a plan<br />

for the new public space.<br />

Six months after taking <strong>of</strong>fice we had a plan<br />

ready for the new chamber. In October 1991 the<br />

City Council gave preliminary approval to the<br />

plan then approved the final drawings along<br />

with funding on a 9-2 vote in November 1992.<br />

Over the next two years as construction and<br />

restoration was underway, I made numerous<br />

trips to observe the exciting transformation.<br />

During one <strong>of</strong> my surveys <strong>of</strong> the space, I took<br />

members <strong>of</strong> the Conservation Society with me.<br />

President Inell Schooler told me they had 24<br />

portraits <strong>of</strong> former mayors, one <strong>of</strong> which was<br />

Mayor Bryan Callaghan.<br />

I went with Inell and other conservation<br />

members to a warehouse where the paintings<br />

were stored. <strong>The</strong>y said they would give them to<br />

the city to hang in the hallway leading to the new<br />

Council Chamber and they also would donate<br />

$10,000 to have them restored. Paintings <strong>of</strong> later<br />

mayors would also be hung in the hallway.<br />

One and a half years after work had begun on<br />

the council chamber, we had a grand opening<br />

on May 19, 1994. <strong>The</strong> council chamber<br />

included 252 seats, and room for another 200<br />

people in the mezzanine. <strong>The</strong> original<br />

ornamental ceiling that featured floral<br />

medallions was restored. Damaged cast stone<br />

and marble finishes were repaired, and the<br />

beautiful historic Tiffany lights were rewired<br />

and restored. <strong>The</strong> historic marble stairway that<br />

had led to the basement was moved and reinstalled<br />

to reach the mezzanine. A small<br />

conference room and as a large meeting room<br />

where city council could have work sessions<br />

were built, as well as <strong>of</strong>fices for staff.<br />

q<br />

View <strong>of</strong> the mezzanine with restored<br />

ceiling and Tiffany lights inside the<br />

San Antonio City Council Chamber.<br />

C h a p t e r 1 I F 1 5

q<br />

San Antonio City Council Chamber.<br />

Hundreds <strong>of</strong> people attended the grand<br />

opening, many <strong>of</strong> them standing in the mezzanine<br />

looking down on the city council chamber. Tom<br />

Frost, president <strong>of</strong> Frost Bank, spoke <strong>of</strong> the pride<br />

he felt for this historic space. I stated that this<br />

chamber was built for citizens, and hoped they<br />

would all take pride in it. Hundreds <strong>of</strong> receptions,<br />

task force meetings, and commission meetings in<br />

addition to council meetings would be held in the<br />

chambers over the years.<br />

While work began on the council chambers,<br />

we began addressing the crumbling walls <strong>of</strong> city<br />

hall. Concurrent with the work on the new<br />

council chamber we began work on a $4 million<br />

restoration <strong>of</strong> the exterior walls <strong>of</strong> City Hall. We<br />

also built a media center and conference room<br />

where the old city council chamber was located.<br />

We completed the restoration <strong>of</strong> the exterior<br />

walls in 1995, before I was term limited out <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>of</strong>fice. In 2018, the city began work on restoring<br />

the interior <strong>of</strong> City Hall.<br />

While restoration work was underway, in<br />

1992 I appointed a seven-member task force,<br />

chaired by June Reedy, to come up with a plan<br />

to revive our historic civic center, from the river<br />

east <strong>of</strong> the plaza west to El Mercado.<br />

Completed in October 1993, the historic<br />

civic center plan called for a pedestrian<br />

walkway from the river, through the plaza<br />

and City Hall grounds, across San Pedro<br />

Creek to El Mercado. <strong>The</strong> plan envisioned a<br />

major water element to connect Main Plaza<br />

to the River, a renovation <strong>of</strong> the plaza,<br />

restoring historic buildings, replacing San<br />

Fernando Rectory, and closing Trevino Street<br />

between City Municipal building and San<br />

Fernando Cathedral.<br />

During my term we closed Trevino Street<br />

and turned it into a plaza connecting the<br />

Cathedral and the Municipal Plaza building.<br />

We bought a parking lot adjacent to the river<br />

across Soledad Street from the plaza that could<br />

eventually be a link to the river. It would be up<br />

to future mayors to build a park entrance to the<br />

river and to restore the plaza. We will visit that<br />

story later.<br />

1 6 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

q<br />

Restored original ornamental ceiling<br />

that featured floral medallions in the<br />

City Council Chamber.<br />

C h a p t e r 1 I F 1 7

III<br />

T H E D E C L I N E O F T H E C O U R T H O U S E<br />

by Tracy Wolff<br />

q<br />

Above and opposite page: Before and<br />

after photos showing the exterior<br />

deterioration <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

courthouse and the work done to<br />

rapair the damage.<br />

Two historic additions to the courthouse were added in a tasteful manner, keeping true to the<br />

original design <strong>of</strong> the 1897 courthouse. In 1914, a three-story addition to the south was built and<br />

finished in 1915. In 1926, the 1914 addition was partially removed and rebuilt to include five<br />

stories. A new green S-shaped tile ro<strong>of</strong> was built. Work was completed in 1928.<br />

Both additions kept the same architectural style and materials. It is hard to tell where one addition<br />

began, and another left <strong>of</strong>f. <strong>The</strong> courthouse now covered one full block, stretching south from Main<br />

Plaza to Nueva Street, and flanked on the east by Soledad Street and on the west by Main Street.<br />

But the Commissioners Court lost their way in 1963 when they authorized the building <strong>of</strong> a 9,000<br />

square foot windowless second-story addition to the west side <strong>of</strong> the Courthouse. In 1972, they<br />

compounded their mistake when they added a five-story, 38,000 square foot windowless granite slab<br />

addition on the southwest side <strong>of</strong> the building. Both additions covered up numerous windows and the<br />

beautiful Pecos sandstone <strong>of</strong> the courthouse.<br />

1 8 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

C h a p t e r 1 I I F 1 9

2 0 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

q<br />

Additional before and after photos<br />

showing the exterior deterioration <strong>of</strong><br />

the courthouse and the work done to<br />

rapair the damage.<br />

C h a p t e r I I 1 F 2 1

Both designs were ill conceived, misguided,<br />

and architecturally inappropriate. Both violated<br />

the height, material and the historical character<br />

<strong>of</strong> the courthouse.<br />

Over the years, interior modifications also did<br />

significant harm to historic features <strong>of</strong> the<br />

courthouse. Ornate ceilings were covered up<br />

with dropped ceiling tiles. Floors were covered<br />

with asbestos tiles. Large arch windows were<br />

partially covered over. In 1967, the original<br />

1897 30-foot high courtroom was divided in half<br />

when a floor was added and another courtroom<br />

was built above it.<br />

In addition to the remodeling mistakes, the<br />

electrical, air conditioning and plumbing<br />

systems were out <strong>of</strong> date and the exterior walls<br />

and balconies were water damaged and<br />

crumbling. Urban pollution did great harm and<br />

nasty pigeon droppings caused additional<br />

damage. When mixed with rain, it became acid<br />

and ate away at the sandstone. Guano from bats<br />

had accumulated in the towers on both ends <strong>of</strong><br />

the courthouse. <strong>The</strong> basement was damp<br />

because <strong>of</strong> continuous rainwater that flowed<br />

into the basement.<br />

With misguided additions, poor remodeling<br />

and neglect, the courthouse was in bad shape.<br />

<strong>The</strong> 1998 National Trust annual list <strong>of</strong> most<br />

endangered historic resources included the<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse, along with other<br />

historic courthouses throughout Texas.<br />

Texas Governor George W. Bush, during his<br />

campaign for re-election in 1998, promised he<br />

would advocate for funding to restore Texas’<br />

historic courthouses. He was re-elected and<br />

fulfilled his promise by setting up a $50 million<br />

fund to be administered by the Texas Historical<br />

Commission. <strong>The</strong>y set up a policy that required<br />

local matching funds and a master plan in order<br />

to be eligible for funding.<br />

In response to the Texas Historical<br />

Commission, <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Judge Cyndi Krier<br />

convinced the Commissioners Court in 1998 to<br />

do an assessment <strong>of</strong> the courthouse and then<br />

prepare a courthouse master plan. <strong>The</strong> Court<br />

contracted with 3D/International and they hired<br />

Betty Bueche to do the assessment and develop<br />

the master plan. At the time, Betty was working<br />

in Denver where she had developed a master<br />

plan to restore the Colorado Brown Stone<br />

historic 1890s Social Club.<br />

A San Antonio native, Betty has an<br />

undergraduate degree in fine art and biology<br />

from Incarnate Word College and a Master<br />

<strong>of</strong> Architecture degree from UT Austin. She<br />

had also been a Conservation Society member<br />

since 1977.<br />

Two years later in January 2000, she<br />

presented the historic preservation plan to the<br />

Commissioners Court. <strong>The</strong> plan turned out to<br />

be bit more than what the Commissioners Court<br />

bargained for. It was estimated to cost as much<br />

as $59 million.<br />

It was expensive because <strong>of</strong> the damage and<br />

neglect <strong>of</strong> the building, as well as misguided<br />

remodeling projects over the years. Three million<br />

people a year come through the courthouse<br />

creating a lot <strong>of</strong> wear and tear.<br />

<strong>The</strong> master plan provided for the restoration<br />

<strong>of</strong> the exterior, ten historic courtrooms and four<br />

corridors that span the length <strong>of</strong> the<br />

courthouse. It also called for new elevators, a<br />

new air-conditioning system, electrical and<br />

plumbing repairs and upgrading technology.<br />

Two other aspects <strong>of</strong> the plan proved to be<br />

controversial. One called for the restoration <strong>of</strong><br />

the original two-story courtroom that had been<br />

sliced in two in 1967 when a floor was added to<br />

accommodate the 285th District courtroom.<br />

<strong>The</strong> second proposal was even more<br />

controversial. <strong>The</strong> plan provided options<br />

for dealing with the 1963 and 1972 additions<br />

to the courthouse that failed to match the<br />

building’s original architecture. One option<br />

was to add windows, another to create a<br />

fake façade, and the best was to remove the<br />

two additions. But no one on the court was<br />

willing to undertake that task or even seriously<br />

discuss it.<br />

But there was one element <strong>of</strong> the plan that<br />

clearly needed to begin as soon as possible—the<br />

exterior <strong>of</strong> the courthouse was in sad shape.<br />

Pieces <strong>of</strong> the tiled turrets and towers had<br />

actually fallen <strong>of</strong>f. Scaffolding was installed to<br />

protect the public from further fallen pieces<br />

<strong>of</strong> stone.<br />

Even though there were reservations about<br />

the plan, the Commissioners Court accepted the<br />

master plan, forwarded it to the Historical<br />

Commission, and applied for a grant to restore<br />

the exterior walls. This is where Nelson and I<br />

came into the picture.<br />

2 2 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

IV<br />

T H E H I D A L G O F O U N D A T I O N<br />

by Tracy Wolff<br />

On May 8, 2001, Nelson was appointed by<br />

the Commissioners Court to become <strong>County</strong><br />

Judge after Judge Cyndi Krier stepped down<br />

and accepted an appointment to the University<br />

<strong>of</strong> Texas-Board <strong>of</strong> Regents. He was ready to take<br />

on the task <strong>of</strong> restoring the courthouse.<br />

Nelson first sat down with Betty Bueche, who<br />

had created the courthouse restoration plan. After<br />

going over the information in the plan he quickly<br />

realized that it would take several years to<br />

complete. He would have to commit and run<br />

successfully for re-election several times if he were<br />

to finish the restoration.<br />

He asked me to raise money from the private<br />

sector to help pay for some <strong>of</strong> the restoration. I<br />

commented that I would consider creating a<br />

foundation to help with the restoration, but<br />

reminded him that my main focus has always been children issues. And so that evening, the Hidalgo<br />

Foundation <strong>of</strong> <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> and its three main goals were born: restoration, children’s issues, and education.<br />

I had a long history <strong>of</strong> supporting children. I had served on the Workforce Commission and chaired<br />

the committee on childcare. When Nelson was mayor, I started the first Library Telethon on KENS5 TV<br />

to benefit the Library Foundation. Over the years the telethon has raised thousands <strong>of</strong> dollars for the<br />

library. I also helped raise over $5 million for the construction <strong>of</strong> the new downtown library.<br />

I co-founded “Smart Start” and raised millions <strong>of</strong> dollars for upgrading childcare centers and<br />

providing additional training for childcare workers. “Smart Start” is now a fund in the San Antonio<br />

Area Foundation.<br />

Nelson informed me that the courthouse had a children’s court handling child abuse and neglect cases, but<br />

their space was terribly inadequate. <strong>The</strong> judges felt the current courtroom could not meet the needs <strong>of</strong> our<br />

most vulnerable children. Although it was not in the master plan, he suggested that I make it the centerpiece.<br />

q<br />

Above: Tracy Wolff speaking at<br />

the Hidalgo Foundation Gala on<br />

Oct 09, 2014.<br />

.<br />

C h a p t e r 1 V F 2 3

2 4 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y<br />

In Nelson’s opening remarks to the Court on<br />

May 8, 2001, he said he studied the master plan<br />

and met with Betty and Andres Andujar with 3-<br />

D International. He also mentioned that I would<br />

create a foundation and raise private money for<br />

the restoration <strong>of</strong> the courthouse with the<br />

<strong>County</strong> matching 2-1. I like those odds.<br />

Nelson was not afraid to support the most<br />

controversial parts <strong>of</strong> the plan; the dismantling<br />

<strong>of</strong> the 1963 and 1972 additions to the<br />

courthouse and the restoration <strong>of</strong> the original<br />

two-story courtroom. I agreed with him. At the<br />

time, neither one <strong>of</strong> us realized how<br />

controversial it would be and how long it would<br />

take to accomplish it. Today we know, it took<br />

over 17 years.<br />

Meanwhile I began moving forward with the<br />

necessary paperwork to create the Hidalgo<br />

Foundation. I named the foundation after the<br />

noble title given by the King <strong>of</strong> Spain to the<br />

Canary Islanders who came to San Antonio in<br />

1731. <strong>The</strong> Commissioners Court have also<br />

adopted the Hidalgo Certificate as its highest<br />

recognition <strong>of</strong> a citizen for their contribution to<br />

our county.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Hidalgo Foundation’s first task was to raise<br />

funds for the restoration <strong>of</strong> the courthouse exterior.

q<br />

Opposite page, top: Tracy Wolff at the<br />

opening <strong>of</strong> BiblioTech South.<br />

Opposite page, bottom: <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Commissioners Court Hidalgo<br />

Certificate Award.<br />

Above: Donor Board for the <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Courthouse Restoration,<br />

March 2005.<br />

Left: Tracy Wolff.<br />

.<br />

C h a p t e r 1 V F 2 5

2 6 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

V<br />

T H E F I R S T P H A S E , T H E E X T E R I O R<br />

by Tracy Wolff<br />

q<br />

Tracy Wolff climbing to the top <strong>of</strong> the<br />

courthouse during the exterior<br />

restoration<br />

In 2001, Nelson’s first year as county judge, the Commissioners Court received a grant in the amount<br />

<strong>of</strong> $2.6 million from the Texas Historical Commission to restore the exterior <strong>of</strong> the courthouse. <strong>The</strong><br />

grant was received in response to an application submitted by former <strong>County</strong> Judge Cyndi Krier.<br />

Betty Bueche was assigned by 3D/International to begin the design work. It took one year to complete<br />

plan. 3/D International then retained Betty to act as the construction manager agent. To supervise the<br />

work, Betty moved into a small construction trailer that we located on the grounds. Bid packages were<br />

C h a p t e r V F 2 7

q<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse.<br />

submitted for masonry, electrical, painting, and<br />

window restoration.<br />

Work began in February <strong>of</strong> 2002. After the<br />

scaffolding was installed, Nelson and I climbed<br />

up to the top <strong>of</strong> the courthouse to view the work<br />

that was in progress. We got to see first-hand<br />

and up-close the damage that had been done<br />

to the Pecos red sandstone, the terra cotta and<br />

the windows.<br />

Almost immediately I was able to raise<br />

$300,000 from the San Antonio Conservation<br />

Society. <strong>The</strong>y were concerned about the historic<br />

courthouse and were glad that it would be<br />

properly restored.<br />

Over the next year, 509 windows were<br />

restored. <strong>The</strong> chipped-<strong>of</strong>f pieces <strong>of</strong> sandstone<br />

and terra cotta were repaired, as well as all<br />

the cast-iron railings. <strong>The</strong> project was<br />

completed in 2002. Texas Construction<br />

Magazine gave us an award <strong>of</strong> excellence in<br />

the Public Renovation/Restoration category.<br />

Betty Bueche could now see that Nelson and<br />

I were committed to completing the restoration<br />

<strong>of</strong> the courthouse. So, she accepted an invitation<br />

to come to work for the county full time. Over<br />

the next 16 years, she would play the leading<br />

role in the restoration. We are forever grateful<br />

to Betty.<br />

While I continued successfully over the years to<br />

raise funds for all three goals <strong>of</strong> the Hidalgo<br />

Foundation, my first major project remained my<br />

priority—raising funds to build the children’s court.<br />

2 8 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

q<br />

Texas Historical Commission<br />

historical marker for the <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Courthouse.<br />

C h a p t e r V F 2 9

VI<br />

T H E C H I L D R E N ’ S C O U R T<br />

by Tracy Wolff<br />

q<br />

Above: Special room created for<br />

Children’s Court.<br />

Right: Children’s court Judge<br />

Peter Sakai.<br />

A few days after Nelson’s first opening speech<br />

as <strong>County</strong> Judge in May 2001, we toured the<br />

courthouse with Betty Bueche. On the second<br />

floor-hallway we saw people with children<br />

crowded around the entrance to a very small<br />

room. Walking through the crowd, we entered a<br />

cramped courtroom where child abuse and<br />

neglect cases were heard.<br />

Families with their children, representatives <strong>of</strong><br />

social agencies, and <strong>of</strong>ficials with Child Protective<br />

Services jammed the small space. Three lawyers sat<br />

at a table—one representing the parents, another<br />

the child, and a third from the Attorney General’s<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice, representing the state. After hearing<br />

testimony, Associate Judge Peter Sakai would<br />

decide whether to terminate parental rights.<br />

3 0 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

On seeing the conditions <strong>of</strong> the court, I said,<br />

“This is an awful and very dangerous condition.<br />

You can feel tremendous tension in the air. I’m<br />

appalled, from my work with children, at the<br />

conditions <strong>of</strong> this court. I will make this court<br />

a priority.”<br />

Soon after our tour, Betty and I met with<br />

District Judge John Specia and Associate Judge<br />

Sakai. Judge Specia had hired Sakai in 1995 to<br />

assist with the rising number <strong>of</strong> abuse and<br />

neglect cases. <strong>The</strong>y had great ideas and we<br />

teamed up with them to begin planning a new<br />

children’s court.<br />

Betty later recommended to the Commissioners<br />

Court that the court hire Susan Goltsman,<br />

a leading consultant on children’s courts. <strong>The</strong><br />

court approved a contract with her. Goltsman<br />

began meeting with constituent groups that<br />

worked with the court on programming and space<br />

needs. While the planning was underway, work on<br />

the exterior continued.<br />

Two months after we began planning, I had<br />

lunch at the Palm restaurant with SBC Senior<br />

Executive Vice President Cassandra Carr. Over<br />

lunch I told her about the Hidalgo Foundation<br />

and the established three goals. Cassandra<br />

suggested that I submit a request to SBC for a<br />

technology grant. I later presented a proposal to<br />

the SBC Foundation for a $3-million grant.<br />

A few weeks later in October at a fundraising<br />

event for John Sharp, candidate for Lt.<br />

Governor, Nelson and I saw SBC chairman Ed<br />

Whitacre. We worked our way over to him and<br />

I said, “Just making sure you know we made a<br />

proposal to your foundation.”<br />

He replied, “I know, but I can’t give you the<br />

$3 million.”<br />

He paused and then said, “But I could give<br />

you $2 million. Let’s shake hands on the deal.”<br />

We shook hands and that sealed the deal.<br />

Shaking hands on a deal reaches back to times<br />

<strong>of</strong> honor and respect. Ed Whitacre is the kind <strong>of</strong><br />

man who makes big decisions and always<br />

honors them.<br />

As I continued to raise dollars, Betty presented a<br />

report to Commissioner Court and recommended<br />

q<br />

Top: Donor board showing the<br />

contributions to the Children’s Court.<br />

Above: Children’s Court Judge John<br />

Specia.<br />

C h a p t e r V 1 F 3 1

q<br />

Above: Children’s court Judge Richard<br />

Garcia.<br />

devoting 10,000 square feet <strong>of</strong> space for<br />

two full courtrooms, an education and recreational<br />

area for the children, two large conference<br />

rooms, family visitation rooms, <strong>of</strong>fices for<br />

prosecutors and CPS staff, detention cells, and<br />

most important a drug-testing clinic. <strong>The</strong> report<br />

also recommended installing state-<strong>of</strong>-the-art<br />

technology, including electronic evidence,<br />

reporting, as well as video conferencing.<br />

Nelson and I then met with District Clerk<br />

Reagan Greer, who graciously agreed to the idea <strong>of</strong><br />

moving rows <strong>of</strong> records <strong>of</strong>f the third floor <strong>of</strong> the<br />

courthouse, so the children’s court complex could<br />

be located there. Commissioners Court approved<br />

the relocation and authorized hiring an architect.<br />

Greer and his staff began moving a massive<br />

number <strong>of</strong> documents <strong>of</strong>f site. I will always be<br />

grateful to Reagan for his insight and focus on the<br />

importance <strong>of</strong> children in the greatest need.<br />

Over the next year, architectural plans were<br />

drawn for the Children’s Court. We began<br />

construction in 2003 and I made several visits<br />

to watch the courts take shape.<br />

Two years later on January 14, 2005, we<br />

opened the new Child Abuse and Neglect<br />

Courts. <strong>The</strong> two courtrooms had ample space.<br />

<strong>The</strong> conference rooms provided space for<br />

families to privately meet with their lawyers.<br />

Across the hallway we built <strong>of</strong>fices for CPS staff,<br />

the district attorney, and related social service<br />

agencies and a special set <strong>of</strong> prisoner holding<br />

cells that allowed visits between the prisoners<br />

and their children when a judge deemed it<br />

appropriate. Later Judge Sakai added two<br />

additional children court judges, Richard Garcia<br />

and Charles Montemayor.<br />

A special room for children protected them<br />

from the trauma <strong>of</strong> court proceedings. It was<br />

decorated with furniture designed for children<br />

as well as numerous toys and children books.<br />

Judges could visit with them in this comfortable<br />

surroundings. If a child’s testimony was<br />

necessary, it could be transferred by video into<br />

the courtroom. State-<strong>of</strong>-the-art technology<br />

enabled judges to also use remote video<br />

conferencing with experts or parents.<br />

3 2 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

<strong>The</strong> project also included restoring historic<br />

courtroom features such as the large arched<br />

windows, historic doors, mission-style tile<br />

floors, and marble wainscoting. In the corridor<br />

near the children’s courts, workers removed the<br />

drop ceiling tile, restored the original ceiling,<br />

and uncovered partially hidden windows.<br />

I went one step further. I wanted the<br />

children to be comfortable as soon as they left<br />

the elevator and entered the hallway. I was able<br />

to convince Bruce Bugg Jr., chairman <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Tobin Endowment, to provide $100,000 for art.<br />

I had the pleasure <strong>of</strong> working with Linda Pace,<br />

the wonderful creator <strong>of</strong> Artpace, as she<br />

recommended many great artworks. Artists<br />

Chuck Ramirez, Michael Velliquette, Juan<br />

Miguel Ramos and Elizabeth Ward created 31<br />

pieces <strong>of</strong> art for the walls along the corridor.<br />

<strong>The</strong> drug-testing clinic provided weekly<br />

testing for parents who had been addicted to<br />

drugs. Perhaps not surprisingly, more than 80<br />

percent <strong>of</strong> parents <strong>of</strong> abused and neglected<br />

children are on drugs.<br />

Building the children’s court cost $4.6<br />

million. I raised $2.3 million in private funds<br />

and Nelson had the Commissioners Court<br />

supply the balance.<br />

Martin Gruen, deputy director <strong>of</strong> the Center<br />

for Legal and Court Technology and the<br />

Courtroom 21 Project at the William and Mary<br />

School <strong>of</strong> Law, delivered a special award<br />

<strong>of</strong>ficially naming our children’s courts, “<strong>The</strong><br />

Model for the Nation.”<br />

Judges now could now make timely and<br />

informed decisions about abused and neglected<br />

children. In many case the parent’s mental<br />

health or drug problems are both are so severe<br />

that the children have to be removed from their<br />

parents. <strong>The</strong>y are either placed with relatives or<br />

in foster care.<br />

Though we have completed the improvements<br />

to the courts, I have continued to work with Judge<br />

Sakai. We have established many innovative<br />

programs to help children and their families.<br />

Judge Sakai has continuously studied other<br />

successful programs around our nation. He<br />

discovered one <strong>of</strong> the most successful programs<br />

in the nation, “<strong>The</strong> Early Intervention Program”<br />

By adapting the program to the needs<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> children, we have now created<br />

an early intervention program that focuses<br />

on mothers with infants or toddlers 3 years old<br />

or younger. <strong>The</strong> program deals with the mental<br />

health needs <strong>of</strong> the mother, helping her bond<br />

with her child. In 2016, I received a large grant<br />

from the Santikos Foundation, the Baptist<br />

Health Foundation, and Temple Beth-El for<br />

this program.<br />

q<br />

Below: Children’s Court artwork by<br />

Michael Velliquette.<br />

C h a p t e r V 1 F 3 3

VII<br />

T H E F I R S T R E S T O R E D C O U R T R O O M<br />

by Tracy Wolff<br />

q<br />

<strong>The</strong> 225th District Court after its<br />

restoration.<br />

While we were building the children’s court and restoring the exterior <strong>of</strong> the courthouse, we<br />

moved ahead with starting our first historic courtroom. On March 21, 2002, one year after Nelson<br />

took <strong>of</strong>fice, I held a press conference in Judge John Specia’s 225th District Court to announce that<br />

his courtroom would be our first restoration. <strong>The</strong> Courtroom was packed with judges, Hidalgo<br />

Foundation members, <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Commissioners and staff, and members <strong>of</strong> the community.<br />

3 4 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

q<br />

Before and after photos <strong>of</strong> the<br />

73rd District Courtroom.<br />

Over the next two years layers <strong>of</strong> paint were<br />

stripped away allowing for the original color to<br />

be revealed and restored. We removed the<br />

dropped ceiling and restored the original<br />

decorative plaster details and gold leaf ceiling. A<br />

decorative cork floor was installed.<br />

In addition, state-<strong>of</strong>-the-art technology was<br />

installed. It included touch screen control panels,<br />

giant plasma TV monitors, videoconferencing,<br />

cameras and microphones. SBC vice president<br />

John Montford had been instrumental in<br />

negotiating the terms <strong>of</strong> the $2-million-dollar gift<br />

to the Hidalgo Foundation. We used a portion <strong>of</strong><br />

the gift for the technology.<br />

We also began work on locating and restoring<br />

the historic furniture. <strong>The</strong> Hidalgo Foundation<br />

contracted with Casagrande Appraisals to<br />

complete the first ever inventory and appraisal <strong>of</strong><br />

all <strong>of</strong> the historic furniture. Seven hundred pieces<br />

<strong>of</strong> furniture and artwork in the courthouse were<br />

identified and each one tagged including jury<br />

chairs, benches, tables made <strong>of</strong> oak and walnut,<br />

and a huge safe built in 1885.<br />

Some pieces <strong>of</strong> furniture had been damaged and<br />

many had been painted over, hiding the original<br />

C h a p t e r V I 1 F 3 5

q<br />

Before and after restoration <strong>of</strong> the<br />

131st District Courtroom.<br />

beautiful wood. <strong>The</strong> Hidalgo Foundation raised an<br />

additional $500,000 to restore the furniture.<br />

<strong>County</strong> Clerk Gerry Rickh<strong>of</strong>f announced that his<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice would put up a matching grant <strong>of</strong> $250,000.<br />

Two years later in August 2004, we competed<br />

Judge Specia’s courtroom and had restored the<br />

historic furniture. <strong>The</strong> courtroom now looked like<br />

it did when it was originally built. Judge Specia<br />

gave demonstrations <strong>of</strong> how the new technology<br />

worked. Witnesses could teleconference in and<br />

judges and lawyers would have any information<br />

they needed at their fingertips. It was a big step<br />

forward in the administration <strong>of</strong> justice.<br />

<strong>The</strong> following year on March 4, 2005, the<br />

Hidalgo Foundation held its first ever gala in the<br />

courthouse to thank our donors and show them<br />

the work we had completed. We also displayed<br />

numerous historic documents, including the<br />

marriage contract between Jim Bowie and<br />

Ursula Veramendi. Several pieces <strong>of</strong> restored<br />

historic furniture were also displayed.<br />

As the crowd gathered on the first floor, I gave<br />

a short speech and unveiled a large beautifully<br />

artistic wall board that listed all the major<br />

contributors. I hope the next time you enter the<br />

courthouse you will look at the many names and<br />

foundations listed that contributed to the<br />

courthouse restoration and to the children’s<br />

courts. <strong>The</strong> generosity and support <strong>of</strong> these<br />

individuals are a testament to the way Texans<br />

honor their past and take care <strong>of</strong> future<br />

generations. On behalf <strong>of</strong> the children and adults<br />

that have benefited from the contributions, I<br />

would like to say a heartfelt thank you!<br />

We served food and drinks to hundreds <strong>of</strong><br />

people on the first three floors. We also took<br />

them on a tour <strong>of</strong> the Children’s Court and the<br />

restored 225th Court. <strong>The</strong> event that evening<br />

was a great success, and everyone stayed and<br />

enjoyed seeing the many improvements.<br />

Subsequent to the restoration <strong>of</strong> Specia’s<br />

courtroom, we have restored seven other<br />

courtrooms and the original Court <strong>of</strong> Appeals<br />

courtroom on the fifth floor. We also added five<br />

new courtrooms. We have also restored four<br />

public corridors leading to the courtrooms in<br />

addition to installing new smoke/alarm<br />

detection, sprinkler systems, HVAC, electrical,<br />

IT and phone systems. <strong>The</strong> historic stairways<br />

have also been restored and a new fire stair that<br />

expands to the fifth floor was built.<br />

3 6 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

VIII<br />

T H E C O U R T Y A R D A N D M A I N P L A Z A<br />

by Nelson Wolff<br />

q<br />

Courtyard fountain in front <strong>of</strong> the San Fernando Cathedral.<br />

C h a p t e r V I I 1 F 3 7

In 1996 Father David Garcia, beloved former<br />

rector <strong>of</strong> San Fernando Cathedral, worked with<br />

my successor Mayor Bill Thornton to fund the<br />

design for a park entrance to the river on the<br />

land that we purchased when I was mayor. It<br />

was located across Soledad Street from the<br />

plaza. Mayor Howard Peak, who followed<br />

Thornton in 1997, led the successful bond<br />

campaign to construct the park entrance.<br />

On a bright sunny Sunday afternoon <strong>of</strong><br />

October 7, 2001 Tracy and I joined Father<br />

David Garcia and his parishioners to celebrate<br />

the opening <strong>of</strong> the new park. Father David led<br />

his congregation from San Fernando crossing<br />

Main Street over to Main Plaza and then across<br />

Soledad Street to the new river park entrance.<br />

When they descended the stairs, Tracy and I<br />

along with several other civic and government<br />

leaders greeted them.<br />

It was an environmentally attractive entrance<br />

to the river. In the middle <strong>of</strong> the park, a stairway<br />

<strong>of</strong> rough-hewn limestone rose up from the river<br />

with landscaping on both sides. Six water features<br />

were created along with inscriptions explaining<br />

the history <strong>of</strong> river water use. San Antonio<br />

Express News senior critic Mike Greenberg<br />

described the park as “a place <strong>of</strong> extraordinary<br />

delight, at once a contemplative evocation <strong>of</strong><br />

nature and history and a vibrant urban space.”<br />

While we were pleased with the park<br />

entrance, we knew that the restoration <strong>of</strong> Main<br />

Plaza was a critical component <strong>of</strong> the 1992<br />

historic civic center plan. Ed Garza, who was<br />

elected mayor a couple <strong>of</strong> weeks after I became<br />

county judge, wanted to move forward on<br />

revitalizing Main Plaza. He convinced the City<br />

Council to commission the architectural firm <strong>of</strong><br />

Lake-Flato to develop a plan for the plaza.<br />

In May <strong>of</strong> 2003 Mayor Garza unveiled an $8.77<br />

million plan. It provided for stone-paved sidewalks,<br />

a new interactive central fountain, landscaping, 89<br />

new trees, lighting, and new gravel paths. It also<br />

called for enlarging to the plaza by taking in a<br />

portion <strong>of</strong> Soledad Street and Main Avenue.<br />

I told Garza that if the council moved<br />

forward, I was interested in the county<br />

participating with the city in restoring Main<br />

Plaza because at one time it stretched across to<br />

the courthouse. In the 1960s when Dolorosa<br />

Street was realigned to bisect the plaza, it left us<br />

a small sliver <strong>of</strong> Main Plaza as our front yard.<br />

I told him I wanted the city to deed the front<br />

yard to the county, allowing us to expand onto a<br />

portion <strong>of</strong> Soledad and Main Street that was<br />

located on the east and west sides <strong>of</strong> the<br />

courthouse. I also asked the city to address our<br />

basement flooding problems. I said I would seek<br />

county funds if he was willing to accommodate<br />

our requests. He was willing.<br />

While the City Council liked the plan, they<br />

did not like the high cost <strong>of</strong> the project. No one<br />

on the council believed enough in the project to<br />

q<br />

Belwo: Courtyard view <strong>of</strong> Main Plaza.<br />

3 8 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

seek an alternative plan to approve funding.<br />

Mayor Garza abandoned the plan.<br />

While the Plaza plan stalled, Father David<br />

Garcia began renovating San Fernando<br />

Cathedral. <strong>The</strong> foundation and structure <strong>of</strong> the<br />

church was stabilized. <strong>The</strong> altar was moved to<br />

the center <strong>of</strong> the church to enhance the<br />

experience for Mass. <strong>The</strong> rectory was replaced<br />

with a new building that housed a museum, gift<br />

shop, and vesting sacristy.<br />

Mayor Garza was succeeded by Phil<br />

Hardberger in 2005, who had a greater vision<br />

for the plaza. He told me he would like to close<br />

all the streets around the plaza and create a<br />

Mexican-style plaza. That meant closing the<br />

east-west streets <strong>of</strong> Commerce and Dolorosa and<br />

the north- south streets <strong>of</strong> Main and Soledad.<br />

He asked me to be a partner with him to<br />

make it happen, and I accepted, provided the<br />

county’s requests were granted. Since he was<br />

closing Main I asked him to also close the<br />

section <strong>of</strong> Main Street that ran between our<br />

courthouse and the Justice Center. He agreed to<br />

the stipulations provided we put up $2.5<br />

million. We had a deal.<br />

Out <strong>of</strong> the four streets he wanted to close,<br />

Main and Soledad were the most important.<br />

Traffic on Main created pollution that was<br />

damaging San Fernando Cathedral. Closing<br />

Soledad would provide Main Plaza with a<br />

connection to the park entrance.<br />

In November 2005 Mayor Harberger went<br />

public with his plan. He announced that Main<br />

Plaza would be expanded with more trees and<br />

grass planted, a tiled fountain would be<br />

installed, along with walkways <strong>of</strong> crushed<br />

granite and stone. He also revealed his proposal<br />

to close all four streets adjacent to the park.<br />

Closing Commerce and Dolorosa presented a<br />

real traffic flow problem because they were the<br />

major east-west corridors for downtown.<br />

18,000 vehicles a day traveled down Commerce<br />

and 13,800 on Dolorosa, an average <strong>of</strong> four<br />

times more traffic than Main and Soledad.<br />

After numerous public hearings, Mayor<br />

Hardberger presented his plan before the<br />

Commissioners Court on March 20, 2006. I had<br />

spent the previous weekend calling the<br />

Commissioners to ask them to be positive. I<br />

explained the benefits we would receive from the<br />

plan and that I thought that Hardberger would<br />

eventually back <strong>of</strong>f closing Commerce and<br />

Dolorosa. <strong>The</strong> Commissioners approved the plan.<br />

Two months later in early May, Hardberger<br />

called me and said, “I have decided to leave<br />

Commerce and Dolorosa open.”<br />

I responded, “Brilliant decision.”<br />

After Hardberger announced his compromise,<br />

most opposition settled down. On June 8, I<br />

appeared at City Council to testify for the plaza<br />

plan. <strong>The</strong> council voted 9-2 to support the plan.<br />

On September 20, 2006, the city’s Historic and<br />

Design Review Commission voted to approve the<br />

plan 12-1. <strong>The</strong> following Thursday, the City<br />

Council voted to spend $350,000 to move the bus<br />

stops on Main and Soledad to Flores Street<br />

between Martin and Durango (now Cesar Chavez).<br />

On October 10, San Antonio Public Works<br />

Director Tom Wendorf presented the completed<br />

Plaza plan to the Commissioners Court. <strong>The</strong> City<br />

would deed us our front lawn, close Main Street<br />

and a portion <strong>of</strong> Soledad and fix our flooding<br />

problem. <strong>The</strong> Court supported the plan. I then<br />

persuaded my colleagues to allocate $4 million to<br />

enlarge our front courtyard, re-landscape, install<br />

a historic fountain, and add benches.<br />

With funding approval from the Commissioners<br />

Court and City Council, work got under way in<br />

early 2007. <strong>The</strong> Drury Hotel, located across the<br />

river from park entrance, agreed to build a<br />

pedestrian footbridge over the river. Also, Bruce<br />

Bugg, president <strong>of</strong> the Tobin Endowment, pledged<br />

$2 million to build five interactive fountains in<br />

Main Plaza.<br />

In April 2007, we held opening ceremonies<br />

for Main Plaza. Overall the plaza was a great<br />

success, creating walking, livable space in the<br />

heart <strong>of</strong> our city. With the closing <strong>of</strong> Main Street,<br />

San Fernando Cathedral was now properly<br />

framed and looked stunning facing the park. <strong>The</strong><br />

river park was now connected, and more tourists<br />

began to visit our historic civic center. <strong>The</strong> City<br />

created the Main Plaza Conservancy to manage<br />

the plaza and plan numerous civic events.<br />

I had the advantage <strong>of</strong> observing the plaza work<br />

before we made final decisions on our front<br />

courtyard. I eliminated the proposed crushed<br />

granite and devoted all the space to stone paving<br />

and landscaping. We planted mountain laurel<br />

trees, lantana and roses. Most importantly, we<br />

reserved a space in the center <strong>of</strong> the courtyard for<br />

a very special Greek goddess.<br />

C h a p t e r V I I 1 F 3 9

IX<br />

L A D Y J U S T I C E<br />

by Tracy Wolff<br />

q<br />

Below, left: <strong>The</strong> Lady Justice Fountain<br />

in front <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Bexar</strong> Counry<br />

Courthouse.<br />

Below, right: <strong>The</strong> base <strong>of</strong> the Lady<br />

Justice fountain.<br />

In early 2002, Betty Bueche and I were searching the historical records <strong>of</strong> <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> when<br />

she showed me a picture <strong>of</strong> <strong>The</strong>mis, the goddess <strong>of</strong> divine law and order standing at the top <strong>of</strong> a<br />

three-tiered fountain. <strong>The</strong> base <strong>of</strong> the fountain included her three daughters Eunomia, Eirene, and<br />

Dike who represent harmony, peace and justice as well as the three seasons, Spring, Summer and<br />

Winter. One holds a garland <strong>of</strong> flowers, one an urn, and one a cornucopia. (<strong>The</strong> Greeks did not<br />

recognize autumn.)<br />

Betty said that the Lady Justice fountain had been removed during the 1927 construction <strong>of</strong> an<br />

addition to the courthouse. No one knew what had happened to it. When I showed the picture <strong>of</strong><br />

the statue to Nelson he said, “We have to find the Lady Justice fountain.”<br />

4 0 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

q<br />

<strong>The</strong> Lady Justice fountain.<br />

C h a p t e r 1 X F 4 1

q<br />

Top, left: <strong>The</strong> Lady Justice fountain in<br />

front <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse.<br />

Top, right: Close up view <strong>of</strong> all sides<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Ladu Justice fountain base.<br />

We searched all the county’s warehouses, but<br />

we could not find the sculpture. I then persuaded<br />

the San Antonio Express-News to write a story<br />

about the missing Lady Justice fountain. Finally,<br />

an employee <strong>of</strong> the San Antonio Water System<br />

called me and said the fountain was in their<br />

warehouse at the Dos Rios Treatment Plant.<br />

When we retrieved the fountain, Lady Justice<br />

was missing from the top and we were never<br />

ever able to find her. <strong>The</strong> three goddesses <strong>of</strong> the<br />

seasons and the base <strong>of</strong> the fountain required<br />

extensive repairs.<br />

After looking at the fountain, I called Nelson<br />

and said, “We can restore the fountain and<br />

create a new Lady Justice, but we will need to<br />

find a sculptor who appreciates and<br />

understands Greek history.”<br />

Nelson replied, “Let’s do it.”<br />

After consulting with several artists, we chose<br />

sculptor Gilbert Barrera to create our new lady<br />

justice. Gilbert’s father, Roy Barrera, Sr., is a<br />

highly respected member <strong>of</strong> our community and<br />

had also served as Texas Secretary <strong>of</strong> State.<br />

Gilbert along with his two brothers Roy Jr. and<br />

Bobby became lawyers and partners in their<br />

father’s prominent law firm.<br />

Gilbert had been drawn to art at an early age.<br />

He slowly weaned himself away from practicing<br />

law and began pursuing his sculpturing career. I<br />

was impressed with him because he had studied<br />

the classical ancient Greek and Italian<br />

Renaissance periods <strong>of</strong> art.<br />

After we decided to engage Gilbert, our<br />

friends Ron and Karen Herrmann agreed to<br />

donate $85,000 from the Hermann Family<br />

Foundation to fund the work.<br />

At our first meeting Gilbert showed us a<br />

picture <strong>of</strong> “Aphrodite <strong>of</strong> Knidos” a sculpture<br />

created by Praxiteles in the fourth century B.C.<br />

Aphrodite was the Greek goddess <strong>of</strong> love,<br />

beauty, pleasure and procreation.<br />

Gilbert then told us his research found that<br />

Lady Justice sculptures are based on Praxiteles’<br />

“Aphrodite <strong>of</strong> Knidos.” Even though all Lady<br />

Justice sculptures in front <strong>of</strong> courthouses are<br />

clothed, he wanted to sculpt her in the nude<br />

form based on Praxiteles sculpture.<br />

Nelson said that when we visited John Paul<br />

Getty’s replica <strong>of</strong> the Villa Dei Papiri in Santa<br />

Monica, California we saw a 350 B.C. carving on a<br />

gold piece showing Aphrodite sitting down with a<br />

scale in her hand weighting justice.<br />

4 2 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

A few months later Karen and Ron Herrmann,<br />

Nelson and I met Gilbert at his studio. We stood<br />

together around the four-foot wax model <strong>of</strong> Lady<br />

Justice that Gilbert had created.<br />

Gilbert told us that Praxiteles used the<br />

contraposition method: tension vs. relaxation <strong>of</strong><br />

the arms and legs that gives a sense <strong>of</strong><br />

movement. He said Praxiteles brought romance<br />

to sculpture by capturing the beauty <strong>of</strong> the<br />

female body using the natural curve <strong>of</strong> the body,<br />

a sensuous, flowing, graceful female body.<br />

We all agreed that he should move forward<br />

with the sculpture.<br />

Finally, on the night <strong>of</strong> December 7, 2008<br />

hundreds <strong>of</strong> people joined us for the unveiling<br />

<strong>of</strong> Lady Justice and the dedication <strong>of</strong> the<br />

enlarged front courtyard in front <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Courthouse.<br />

We had created a perfect setting for Lady Justice<br />

in our expanded courtyard, accentuated by<br />

mountain laurel trees, lantana and a garden <strong>of</strong><br />

roses. Two elongated benches flanked each side <strong>of</strong><br />

Lady Justice. Because it was Christmas time, over<br />

200 poinsettias were placed around the base <strong>of</strong> the<br />

fountain and on the courthouse steps.<br />

After Nelson gave his welcoming speech, I<br />

spoke and thanked Gilbert for his beautiful<br />

work. I also thanked the Herrmann’s and their<br />

family, who were present, for their donation.<br />

Finally, Nelson, Gilbert and I pulled the cover<br />

<strong>of</strong>f the fountain to reveal Aphrodite.<br />

As we slipped <strong>of</strong>f the cover, our goddess<br />

emerged in all her striking beauty in her bronze<br />

colored skin. She stood on a globe above<br />

the restored twelve-foot high cast iron fountain.<br />

In one hand, she had the scales <strong>of</strong> justice<br />

and in the other a sword, representing the<br />

enforcement <strong>of</strong> justice. She was blindfolded<br />

representing objectivity. She had a ribbon in a<br />

curvilinear form floating above her head<br />

representing the sky.<br />

q<br />

Above: Nelson and Tracy Wolff during<br />

the unveiling <strong>of</strong> the Lady Justice<br />

Fountain on December 7, 2008.<br />

Below: Aerial view <strong>of</strong> the courtyard in<br />

front <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse.<br />

C h a p t e r 1 X F 4 3

q<br />

Right: Lady Justice during the<br />

unveiling ceremony on December 7,<br />

2008.<br />

Below: Close up view <strong>of</strong> the Lady<br />

Justice sculpture.<br />

Barrera had used the sinuous S-curve from the<br />

bun <strong>of</strong> hair on the back <strong>of</strong> her head that flowed<br />

around her face and curved behind her shoulder.<br />

She stood with more weight on one leg and the<br />

other leg slightly bent at the knee giving her a<br />

more relaxed view. Her back and arms twisted to<br />

one side <strong>of</strong> her hips and leg positions.<br />

While she is a certainly a symbol <strong>of</strong> justice,<br />

she has also inspired love. On Valentine’s<br />

Day, <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> holds mass wedding<br />

ceremonies on the steps <strong>of</strong> the Courthouse.<br />

Five different ceremonies are held. Starting at<br />

midnight with a total <strong>of</strong> some 500 couples<br />

being married. Almost all have their pictures<br />

taken with the Goddess <strong>of</strong> Love Aphrodite, our<br />

Lady Justice.<br />

Nelson tells me that, on most days when he<br />

leaves the courthouse, he walks through the<br />

courtyard and pays his respects to Lady Justice.<br />

We know she will continue to inspire Love and<br />

Justice for many generations to come.<br />

We bought a painting by Janet Campbell <strong>of</strong><br />

Lady Justice standing in front <strong>of</strong> the Courthouse.<br />

It is a night scene with lights reflecting on the<br />

plaza capturing the beauty <strong>of</strong> the scene just like<br />

the night we unveiled Lady Justice.<br />

In my <strong>of</strong>fice at home hangs a nighttime photo<br />

<strong>of</strong> a close-up view <strong>of</strong> Lady Justice framed by the<br />

left tower <strong>of</strong> the courthouse in the background.<br />

It was a Valentine gift, and written at the bottom<br />

is an endearing note: To Tracy, my Aphrodite.<br />

Love Nelson.<br />

4 4 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

X<br />

T H E D O U B L E H E I G H T C O U R T R O O M<br />

by Nelson Wolff<br />

Completed in 1897 the original Double-height courtroom was magnificent with chandeliers, a<br />

wooden floor, a 25-foot high c<strong>of</strong>fered ceiling, large wood framed windows, and a balcony. <strong>The</strong><br />

Commissioners Court later removed the balcony. In 1926, a new ceiling was installed over the<br />

original ornate ceiling and the walls were plastered.<br />

In 1967, the Commissioners Court approved bifurcating the space by adding a floor and dividing<br />

the Double-height courtroom into two courtrooms. <strong>The</strong> walls in both courtrooms were covered with<br />

paneling and stucco. With the two courtrooms stacked one on top <strong>of</strong> the other the original<br />

courtroom no longer recognizable.<br />

q<br />

Restored Double height courtroom.<br />

C h a p t e r X F 4 5

q<br />

Above and below: Construction <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Double height courtroom.<br />

A few weeks after I took <strong>of</strong>fice in May 2001,<br />

Tracy, Betty and I took a tour <strong>of</strong> the 285th District<br />

courtroom, located on the top half <strong>of</strong> the original<br />

courtroom. I climbed up a ladder and removed a<br />

few ceiling tiles and when I shined a flashlight<br />

inside, I saw the original plaster crown moldings<br />

and low-relief-c<strong>of</strong>fering. I knew that at some<br />

point in time, we had to reveal and restore this<br />

beautiful work.<br />

I then went to look at the Presiding courtroom<br />

tucked underneath the floor <strong>of</strong> the 285th District<br />

courtroom. As I walked around looking at the dark<br />

paneling, two staff members told me not to try to<br />

change the courtroom. I knew where that message<br />

was coming from. Many <strong>of</strong> the judges did not<br />

embrace change. I also knew that the San Antonio<br />

Bar Association would back up the judges. <strong>The</strong><br />

Commissioners Court found it difficult to resist the<br />

political pressure from the Bar and the judges.<br />

So, I had to bide my time. A lot <strong>of</strong> time;<br />

some 10 years. Meanwhile, we worked on the<br />

restoration projects that were not controversial; the<br />

Children’s Court, restoring other courtrooms and<br />

hallways, fixing numerous electrical and plumbing<br />

problems and repairing the outside walls.<br />

In the meantime, Betty began researching the<br />

history <strong>of</strong> how the original courtroom was used.<br />

She found that it was originally the <strong>County</strong><br />

Judge’s courtroom as well as where the<br />

Commissioners Court met. <strong>The</strong> Judges only used<br />

the courtroom for famous criminal and civil trials<br />

that required more space. I now had a reason to<br />

not only restore the courtroom but to also<br />

advocate its use by the Commissioners Court.<br />

Finally, in 2010, nine years after taking<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice, I took the first steps toward tackling<br />

the controversial issue. By this time, we had<br />

successfully accomplished numerous restoration<br />

projects in the courthouse. As a result, Tracy<br />

and I had both established credibility with<br />

the Commissioners Court, most <strong>of</strong> the judges<br />

and the public. I was now in a position to<br />

hopefully overcome the significant opposition <strong>of</strong><br />

the judiciary.<br />

Based on research, I suggested that the judges<br />

share the courtroom with the Commissioners<br />

Court. I also wanted to open up the courtroom for<br />

use by the public by allowing civic organizations to<br />

have meetings and evening dinners, much like we<br />

did when we built the City Hall Chambers in 1994.<br />

After I trotted out my proposal, the judges<br />

sent a letter to the Commissioners Court stating<br />

that they unanimously opposed the proposal.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y also started organizing the leadership <strong>of</strong> the<br />

San Antonio Bar Association to oppose it. Several<br />

lawyers called backing up the judges’ position.<br />

I still thought that I could change the<br />

judge’s minds about sharing the courtroom,<br />

so I arranged to meet with five judges that<br />

represented all the district civil judges. <strong>The</strong><br />

meeting did not go so well. <strong>The</strong>y said they were<br />

not going to share the courtroom with the<br />

Commissioners Court. Sometimes change is<br />

hard to accept even although the judges<br />

whose courtrooms we had restored were proud<br />

<strong>of</strong> them.<br />

4 6 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

As the custodian <strong>of</strong> the courthouse it had<br />

always been my policy to accommodate the<br />

wants and the needs <strong>of</strong> the judges. But now, I<br />

was determined to go even further. Under the<br />

new plan the Commissioners Court would have<br />

sole control <strong>of</strong> the Double-height courtroom.<br />

In early 2011, I had architectural drawings<br />

for a new Presiding Court to be located on the<br />

first floor <strong>of</strong> the courthouse. It would take the<br />

place <strong>of</strong> the original Presiding Court and also<br />

included additional space for a satellite filing<br />

desk for the district clerk as well as a conference<br />

and meeting room for lawyers and their clients.<br />

It included laptop work counters with a wireless<br />

internet system to give attorneys room to work<br />

and prepare their court documents. No longer<br />

would attorneys have to meet with the clients in<br />

the hallways.<br />

I was now able to convince several <strong>of</strong> the<br />

judges that this plan would work better for<br />

them. Many <strong>of</strong> the lawyers liked it because <strong>of</strong><br />

the private meeting space. <strong>The</strong>y also no longer<br />

would have to take the stairway to the second<br />

floor to enter the existing Presiding Court. But<br />

still some <strong>of</strong> the judges and lawyers were against<br />

the plan. If you wait for everybody to get on<br />

board the train, it will never leave the station.<br />

On June 5, 2011 the Commissioners Court<br />

approved the plan to restore the Double-height<br />

courtroom for use by the Commissioners Court,<br />

the public, and special trials that required more<br />

space. We also approved the new Presiding Court<br />

and relocating the 285th District Court.<br />

As we proceeded with the construction on the<br />

new Presiding Court on the first floor, Judge<br />

Solomon J. Casseb III made a recommendation to<br />

the Commissioners Court to name the court after<br />

his father, Judge Solomon Casseb, Jr. His father<br />

was the judge who led the effort to create the<br />

Presiding Court system in 1962 and then became<br />

the first presiding judge.<br />

When I was a student at the downtown St.<br />

Mary’s Law School from 1963-66, I remember<br />

going to courthouse to see him in action. He<br />

had a commanding presence, was a respected<br />

judge and had received numerous honors as a<br />

judge. He passed away in 2009 at the age <strong>of</strong> 94.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Commissioners Court agreed to honor him<br />

and approved the naming.<br />

Judge Casseb III spoke at the grand opening<br />

<strong>of</strong> the new Presiding Court in October 2012.<br />

Following his speech, we revealed a memorial<br />

plaque naming the court after his father. Almost<br />

all the judges seemed happy with their new<br />

court as well as the lawyers were also very<br />

happy with their new private meeting rooms<br />

While we were working on the new Presiding<br />

court, we developed architectural plans for the<br />

restoration <strong>of</strong> the Double-height courtroom. We<br />

chose the architectural firm <strong>of</strong> Fisher-Heck,<br />

experts in historic restoration.<br />

q<br />

Left: Original windows restored.<br />

Below: Reception in the Double<br />

height courtroom.<br />

C h a p t e r X F 4 7

With that picture <strong>of</strong> the original courtroom<br />

we were able to determine the major features <strong>of</strong><br />

the space. We also found the serial numbers<br />

from the original chandeliers and traced them to<br />

a St. Louis company that was still in business.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y said they could replicate them.<br />

As construction work began on the courtroom,<br />

we ran across a unique opportunity. Guido<br />

Brothers Construction Company was doing work<br />

on the 1888 downtown Joske’s building when<br />

they discovered longleaf pine joists that had been<br />

harvested around the 1880s. <strong>The</strong>y had a rich,<br />

deep, red pine color that was described as an<br />

historic treasure <strong>of</strong> “organic gold”.<br />

Since the wood floors in the courtroom were<br />

installed at about the same time as Joske’s we paid<br />

$130,000 for 5,000 square feet <strong>of</strong> the rare wood<br />

and milled them into flooring for the courtroom.<br />

Because we had agreed to allow the judges to<br />

use the Double-height courtroom for infrequent<br />

larger trials we built a transforming bench from<br />

one that set the five-member commissioners<br />

configuration to a judicial bench that required<br />

boxes for witnesses and court clerk.<br />

We held our grand opening on January 6,<br />

2015. <strong>The</strong> courtroom was stunning as people<br />

walked around looking at the original features<br />

that were finally revealed and restored. <strong>The</strong>y were<br />

q<br />

Above: Restored entrance to the<br />

Presiding Courtroom.<br />

Below: Restored Presiding Court<br />

Interior.<br />

We were unable to find James Reily Gordon’s<br />

original architectural drawings, so we employed<br />

historian Maria Pfeiffer to interview people<br />

who had been in the courtroom before it was<br />

torn asunder. She also found a picture <strong>of</strong> the<br />

original courtroom.<br />

4 8 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

astounded at the 13 rose windows, replicas <strong>of</strong> the<br />

famous rose window at Mission San Jose, that<br />

had been covered up with plaster and now were<br />

revealed in all their glory. <strong>The</strong> original plaster<br />

crown moldings and low-relief c<strong>of</strong>fering was<br />

restored. <strong>The</strong> large wood framed windows were<br />

now visible stretching 25 feet up to the ceiling.<br />

We rebuilt the balcony and included 75 seats.<br />

We restored the arched outdoor porch that<br />

had been closed in. It now provides a great view<br />

<strong>of</strong> Lady Justice and Main Plaza. French doors<br />

were reconstructed that connected the courtroom<br />

to the porch.<br />

We also built two adjoining conference<br />

rooms, a jury room, room for audio-visual<br />

equipment, a media <strong>of</strong>fice, briefing room, <strong>of</strong>fice<br />

q<br />

Opposite page, bottom, right: Restored<br />

spiral staircase from the judge’s <strong>of</strong>fice<br />

to a l<strong>of</strong>t.<br />

Above: <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Commissioners<br />

Court layout in the Double-height<br />

courtroom.<br />

Left: King Felipe VI veiwing the<br />

Designing America exhibit.<br />

C h a p t e r X F 4 9

q<br />

Above: June 17, 2018, King Felipe VI<br />

and Queen Letizia visited <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Courthouse for the<br />

inauguration <strong>of</strong> the Designing<br />

America exhibit.<br />

space and restrooms. A spiral staircase from<br />

judge’s <strong>of</strong>fice to a l<strong>of</strong>t was restored.<br />

We had a special treat when we revealed four<br />

paintings by former <strong>County</strong> Commissioner and<br />

folk artist William G.M. Samuel. <strong>The</strong>y were<br />

painted around 1850 and were loaned to the<br />

Witte Museum about 70 years ago. Betty and I<br />

met with Marise McDermott, president <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Witte Museum, to look at the paintings and she<br />

agreed to return them.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y were colorful paintings <strong>of</strong> San Fernando<br />

Cathedral, La Quinta (the first post <strong>of</strong>fice), Casa<br />

Reales (the original site <strong>of</strong> city and county<br />

government) and other buildings and residences<br />

around Main Plaza. Numerous citizens are<br />

depicted enjoying life around the plaza.<br />

Since our opening many more citizens now<br />

attend our Commissioner Court meetings.<br />

Numerous civic groups have used the courtroom for<br />

government meetings, news conferences, receptions,<br />

breakfasts, luncheons, graduations and symposiums.<br />

In 2016, the Commissioners Court accepted an<br />

award from the San Antonio Conservation Society<br />

for restoration <strong>of</strong> the Double-height courtroom.<br />

On June 17, 2018 we held a reception in the<br />

restored courtroom for Spanish King Felipe V1 and<br />

Queen Letizia on their <strong>of</strong>ficial visit to San Antonio to<br />

celebrate our city and county’s 300th anniversary.<br />

We also gave them a tour <strong>of</strong> a major exhibit that<br />

we held on the first floor <strong>of</strong> the courthouse. It<br />

included documents, maps and pictures <strong>of</strong> Spain’s<br />

explorations and settlements in North America.<br />

5 0 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

XI<br />

T H E R E M O V A L O F T H E G O N D E C K A D D I T I O N S<br />

by Nelson Wolff<br />

q<br />

Left: Gondeck Addition c. 1972.<br />

Below: Gondeck Addition during the<br />

removal process.<br />

It is interesting how the best laid building<br />

plans can sometimes evolve into an architectural<br />

nightmare because <strong>of</strong> a lack <strong>of</strong> will. In 1968 the<br />

Commissioners Court started out in the right<br />

direction when they began working on plans for a<br />

proposed 14-story courthouse building. Because<br />

<strong>of</strong> financial concerns, the plans were abandoned.<br />

Instead <strong>of</strong> building the new building in January<br />

1970, the Commissioners Court approved a fourstory,<br />

38,000 sq. ft. concrete framed addition on<br />

the southwest corner <strong>of</strong> the courthouse designed<br />

by the Gondeck Architectural firm. <strong>The</strong><br />

windowless granite agglomerate-paneled addition<br />

was finished in early 1972.<br />

Previously in 1963, the Commissioners Court<br />

had authorized the building <strong>of</strong> a smaller 9,000<br />

C h a p t e r X 1 F 5 1

q<br />

Above: Removal <strong>of</strong> the Gondeck<br />

addition.<br />

Below: A 15-foot metal fence designed<br />

by sculptor George Schroeder, named<br />

“Justitia”.<br />

square foot windowless second story addition<br />

to the west side <strong>of</strong> the Courthouse also designed<br />

by Gondeck.<br />

For the next 40 years much talk took<br />

place about the inappropriate additions. But<br />

nothing happened.<br />

To remove the Gondeck additions, we would<br />

have to develop a plan to relocate employees to<br />

another building. For several years, Commissioner<br />

Paul Elizondo advocated building a new<br />

administrative <strong>of</strong>fice building on a parking lot<br />

located across Main Street from the courthouse<br />

and next to the Justice Center that had been built<br />

in 1988. An underground tunnel had been<br />

constructed under Main Street connecting the<br />

Justice Center and the courthouse.<br />

I teamed up with Commissioner Elizondo to<br />

get the support to move forward with the<br />

building. <strong>The</strong> new building would save $600,000<br />

a year in rental payments that we were paying to<br />

house county employees in other buildings. It<br />

would also provide space for the relocated<br />

employees working in the Gondeck additions.<br />

We approved the construction <strong>of</strong> a new 10<br />

story, 215,000 square foot building. It would be<br />

the first major vertical construction that the county<br />

had undertaken in 20 years. It would be wrapped<br />

in Pecos red sandstone and granite used in the<br />

original courthouse. It would also include the<br />

latest technology and energy efficiency standards.<br />

Solar panels would be installed, the first building<br />

downtown to do so. We would be the first publicly<br />

owned LEED Silver building in San Antonio.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>of</strong>fices <strong>of</strong> the District Clerk, <strong>County</strong> Clerk,<br />

Auditor, District Attorney, Budget and Economic<br />

Development Departments and other administrative<br />

<strong>of</strong>fices would be housed in the building. <strong>The</strong><br />

Commissioners Court would take the top floor. <strong>The</strong><br />

District Attorney’s <strong>of</strong>fices would be moved from the<br />

Justice Center into the new building, allowing us to<br />

fill that space with eight new criminal courts.<br />

5 2 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

As construction neared completion, we<br />

began work on a 15 foot artist metal fence<br />

designed by sculptor George Schroeder that<br />

would enclose a courtyard between our new<br />

building and the Justice Center. We also built<br />

into the lobby floor and outdoor sidewalks<br />

mosaic designs by Eloise Stoker, a local<br />

renowned artist, to represent the Acequia<br />

Principal that flowed in the past where the<br />

building now stands.<br />

We began moving in December 2010. <strong>The</strong><br />

following year Commissioner Kevin Wolff<br />

introduced a resolution to name the building<br />

after Commissioner Paul Elizondo who had<br />

proposed its construction some 20 years earlier.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Commissioners Court approved the<br />

resolution. It was a well-deserved honor for a<br />

great commissioner and my good friend.<br />

After everyone moved out <strong>of</strong> the Gondeck<br />

addition, Betty and I went up to the top floor.<br />

Looking down at a small space between the two<br />

buildings she said, “<strong>The</strong> architect knew that<br />

sometime in the future we would want to take<br />

this addition down. He created this space<br />

between the courthouse and the addition and<br />

used brackets to attach it to the courthouse. By<br />

doing it this way it caused minimal damage to<br />

courthouse. You can see how the original walls<br />

were not damaged."<br />

I replied, “He obviously realized that the<br />

commissioners were making a mistake. When will<br />

you have your structural analysis completed?”<br />

She said, “Soon. It will show the walls<br />

are cracking in both the 1963 and 1970<br />

additions and that the 1972 addition has other<br />

construction flaws.”<br />

I replied, “Very good.”<br />

One year after the completion <strong>of</strong> the Paul<br />

Elizondo Tower in November 2011, we took the<br />

first step to demolish the Gondeck additions and<br />

q<br />

Above, left: Demolition <strong>of</strong> the fivestory<br />

Gondeck addition for the<br />

exterior renovation <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Courthouse.<br />

Below: <strong>The</strong> Paul Elizondo Building<br />

with the Courthouse on the right <strong>of</strong><br />

the Gondeck addition.<br />

C h a p t e r X 1 F 5 3

q<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse after the<br />

Gondeck had been removed.<br />

reveal the hidden beauty <strong>of</strong> the courthouse that<br />

had been covered up for over 40 years. We<br />

approved an expenditure <strong>of</strong> $30,000 to seek a<br />

state grant from the Texas Historical Commission<br />

to pay for a portion <strong>of</strong> the cost <strong>of</strong> taking down the<br />

two Gondeck additions.<br />

In January 2012, I appeared before the Texas<br />

Historical Commission. I asked for a $2.5<br />

million grant to remove the Gondeck additions<br />

and I committed the Commissioners Court to<br />

fund the balance <strong>of</strong> the project. We were later<br />

awarded the grant.<br />

On January 15, 2014, we held a symbolic ropepulling<br />

ceremony. With Tracy standing in the<br />

front, a group <strong>of</strong> us pulled down a section <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Gondeck addition. We were <strong>of</strong>f and running with<br />

the demolition.<br />

Slowly, but surely the 1972 and 1963<br />

additions started coming down. As I watched the<br />

removal process each day, the more excited I got<br />

about seeing the condition <strong>of</strong> the original<br />

windows and courthouse walls. Once I could see<br />

the walls and windows, I was amazed that the<br />

coloring <strong>of</strong> the walls was the same as the rest <strong>of</strong><br />

the courthouse after decades <strong>of</strong> being unexposed<br />

to the sun and weather. I was reminded that it<br />

had also been subject to the elements for several<br />

decades before the two additions were added and<br />

the color was not distorted.<br />

With the removal <strong>of</strong> the Gondeck addition,<br />

we were able to expand our south courtyard and<br />

re-landscape. <strong>The</strong> south side courtyard is now<br />

as beautiful as the front courtyard.<br />

One and half years later on July 14, 2015, we<br />

held a ceremony to reveal the hidden beauty <strong>of</strong><br />

the west side <strong>of</strong> the courthouse. My friend and<br />

outstanding Texas Historical Commission<br />

Chairman John Nau thanked us for returning our<br />

landmark courthouse to its original exterior look.<br />

He went on to say that we have brought back its<br />

grandeur and that we were the most successful <strong>of</strong><br />

the state’s courthouse preservation projects.<br />

In addition to the state contribution <strong>of</strong><br />

$2.5 million, Tracy raised $1.3 million with<br />

the remaining funds contributed by the<br />

Commissioners Court.<br />

With the removal <strong>of</strong> the Gondeck additions,<br />

the courthouse was still a very large building<br />

consisting <strong>of</strong> 213,000 square foot. Now our<br />

historic courthouse has been restored to the<br />

original construction <strong>of</strong> 1892, and the 1914 and<br />

1926 additions are a seamless extension.<br />

5 4 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

q<br />

Above: Tracy Wolff during the<br />

rededication ceremony for the <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Courthouse on July 14, 2015.<br />

Left: Commissioners Court at the<br />

rededication ceremony for the <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Courthouse on July 14, 2015.<br />

C h a p t e r X 1 F 5 5

XII<br />

T H E B E X A R C O U N T Y A R C H I V E S B U I L D I N G<br />

by Nelson Wolff<br />

q<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Archives Building.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Federal Reserve is the central bank system <strong>of</strong> the United States. It is governed by a seven-member<br />

board appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. <strong>The</strong>re are 12 regional Federal banks, whose<br />

shareholders are privately owned banks that fall under the Federal Reserve System. <strong>The</strong> whole system is<br />

described as an independent entity within the government, having both public and private aspects.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> the 12 regional banks one is located in Dallas. <strong>The</strong> Dallas Reserve bank has two branches,<br />

one in San Antonio that was built in 1950. It was built on a site that was originally the Vance House,<br />

a two-story hotel where General Robert E. Lee frequently stayed. It is located at 126 East Nueva,<br />

across from the south end <strong>of</strong> the courthouse.<br />

It is a sturdy, secured 90,000 square foot, three-story building with a basement and sub-basement<br />

that supposedly could withstand an atomic explosion. In these underground spaces there is a<br />

shooting range, three large vaults, and loading docks where trucks would unload tons <strong>of</strong> cash.<br />

As our society evolved into a largely cashless and checkless society the Federal Reserve no longer<br />

needed this large building. By 2013, they had reduced their workforce from some 75 employees to<br />

5 6 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

15. <strong>The</strong>y made a decision to sell the building<br />

and relocate their staff to a smaller building.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y called to see if the Commissioners Court<br />

were interested in buying the building and we<br />

said we were.<br />

We wanted the building to house the county’s<br />

valuable historic documents. We have numerous<br />

documents including land grants and sales,<br />

mission records, decrees, edits and laws, rebel<br />

properties and post-civil war amnesty oaths, as<br />

well as micr<strong>of</strong>ilm <strong>of</strong> earlier Spanish documents<br />

housed at the Briscoe Center for American<br />

History at the University <strong>of</strong> Texas at Austin.<br />

<strong>The</strong> large climate-controlled vaults were<br />

ideal to protect the documents. We also had<br />

room on the first floor to create a display space<br />

and a reading room for citizens who wanted to<br />

do research.<br />

In 2013, we began negotiations to buy the<br />

building that was set on a small city block. <strong>The</strong>y<br />

agreed verbally to sell it to us at market value to<br />

be determined by an outside appraisal. However<br />

later they changed their mind and decided to<br />

choose a developer who would find another<br />

location, build them a new building and buy the<br />

Federal Reserve building.<br />

This was a breach <strong>of</strong> our verbal agreement.<br />

So, we then decided to start condemnation<br />

proceedings to force a sale to <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>. This<br />

did not go over very well with Federal Reserve<br />

<strong>of</strong>ficials. <strong>The</strong>y said we had no right to condemn<br />

their property and that they would fight it.<br />

Once we went public with our dispute and<br />

they saw we were serious about condemnation<br />

they finally agreed to sell to us. We finally<br />

reached an agreement on April 8, 2014 to buy<br />

the building based on our original agreement.<br />

We paid the appraised price <strong>of</strong> $6.5 million.<br />

After we received control <strong>of</strong> the building an<br />

opportunity came our way to host an exhibit <strong>of</strong><br />

Spanish historical documents that tell the story<br />

<strong>of</strong> the 17th and 18th century Spanish colonial<br />

exploration <strong>of</strong> the new world and the settlement<br />

<strong>of</strong> the area that would become <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

We very much wanted to host the exhibit<br />

because <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s successful effort to have<br />

the missions and the Alamo inscribed as a<br />

UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. Our<br />

work began in 2006 when Virginia Nicholas,<br />

Chair <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Historical<br />

Commission, first introduced the idea <strong>of</strong><br />

applying for inscription. <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

coordinated the National Park Service,<br />

Los Compadres (now known as Mission<br />

Heritage Partners), San Antonio River Authority<br />

and the San Antonio Conservation Society on<br />

the nomination.<br />

On July 5, 2015 we traveled to Bonn,<br />

Germany and were successful before the<br />

UNESCO World Heritage Committee. <strong>The</strong><br />

historic Missions and the Alamo were inscribed<br />

as a World Heritage Site, the only one in the<br />

State <strong>of</strong> Texas.<br />

Betty Bueche traveled to Spain reached an<br />

agreement to borrow documents from the<br />

General Archive <strong>of</strong> the Indies in Seville, Spain.<br />

She also collected artifacts and documents from<br />

other institutions including maps, <strong>of</strong>ficial<br />

reports, mission inventories, and religious and<br />

archaeological artifacts.<br />

We built exhibit space on the first floor in<br />

our newly acquired building, located next to the<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Archives. <strong>The</strong> successful exhibit<br />

ran from May through September 2016. It was<br />

the first exhibit leading up to the celebration <strong>of</strong><br />

our community’s 300th anniversary to be held<br />

two years later in 2018.<br />

As we were preparing for the Spanish<br />

historical document exhibit, I read in the San<br />

q<br />

Below: <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Archives<br />

Building vault where the Spanish<br />

Archives were stored.<br />

C h a p t e r X I 1 F 5 7

q<br />

Above: Texas A&M-San Antonio<br />

Archives and Special Collections <strong>of</strong>fice<br />

at the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Archives<br />

Building.<br />

Below: Judge Nelson Wolff viewing at<br />

Texas Declaration <strong>of</strong> Independence<br />

document at the Grand Opening <strong>of</strong><br />

the Daughters <strong>of</strong> the Republic <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas exhibit on October 27, 2017.<br />

Antonio Express-News that the city <strong>of</strong> San<br />

Antonio was turning down an opportunity to<br />

house the Daughters <strong>of</strong> the Republic <strong>of</strong> Texas’s<br />

Alamo Library collection. When the State <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas took over the Alamo, they sought to keep<br />

the Daughters’ collection but lost in court. <strong>The</strong><br />

Daughters stored the collection in several<br />

warehouses while looking for a permanent home.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Alamo Library collection was established<br />

by the Daughters on October 12, 1945 and<br />

housed a converted fire station just southeast <strong>of</strong><br />

the Alamo. In 1950, a new building was<br />

constructed on the Alamo grounds to house the<br />

collection which held the collection until the<br />

state took over.<br />

<strong>The</strong> extraordinary collection included<br />

17,000 book titles including genealogy, politics,<br />

art, and natural history associated with Texas. It<br />

also included 450 collections <strong>of</strong> personal and<br />

family papers, 40,000 photographic images<br />

recording the history <strong>of</strong> the Alamo and the<br />

people <strong>of</strong> Texas. Approximately 1,000 pieces <strong>of</strong><br />

graphic art, paintings and decorative arts are<br />

among the collections in addition to prints and<br />

posters, periodicals, newspapers, sheet music,<br />

and clipping files. <strong>The</strong>y had more than 1,000<br />

maps dating back to 1597.<br />

<strong>The</strong> same day that I read about the city’s<br />

decision I called attorney Lamont Jefferson, who<br />

represented the Daughters. I said that the<br />

<strong>County</strong> would be interested in providing a<br />

home for them in the former Federal Reserve<br />

building. He said that they may be interested<br />

and would have someone call me.<br />

Later that same day, Texas A&M—San Antonio<br />

(TAMUSA) President Dr. Cynthia Matson called<br />

me and said they would be curating the Daughters<br />

collection. She was interested in my proposal and<br />

wanted to see the facility. I replied that I would be<br />

5 8 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

leaving town Monday. President Matson said, “I<br />

can be there tomorrow.” We then set a time.<br />

After walking through the building with Dr.<br />

Matson and two representatives <strong>of</strong> Daughters,<br />

they said that their documents and artifacts<br />

would compliment the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> archives.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y also liked our climate control vaults and<br />

the finished-out display space, which were<br />

renovated to the meet the standards <strong>of</strong> the<br />

American Museum Association. <strong>The</strong>y asked how<br />

much I would charge, and I said a dollar a year<br />

plus utility costs. Matson said she liked the<br />

price and wanted to move forward with a lease.<br />

Three months later on August 8, 2016, we<br />

held a joint press conference in front <strong>of</strong> the<br />

former Federal Reserve building and announced<br />

that <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> and TAMUSA had reached an<br />

agreement to house the collection. Later that<br />

same day, the Commissioners Court approved the<br />

lease <strong>of</strong> an initial term <strong>of</strong> two years with three,<br />

one-year options, for 9,937 square feet and<br />

shared space <strong>of</strong> 1,184 square feet. <strong>The</strong>y would<br />

pay $25,438.72 a year to cover utility expenses.<br />

We held the grand opening on October 27,<br />

2017. President General <strong>of</strong> the Daughters <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Republic <strong>of</strong> Texas Barbara Steven along with<br />

many <strong>of</strong> their members attended. Leslie<br />

Stapleton, formerly with the Alamo Library,<br />

became the Texas A&M Archives and Special<br />

Collection manager. She gave everyone a tour<br />

<strong>of</strong> the exhibit. <strong>The</strong> highlight <strong>of</strong> the tour was<br />

the signed original Texas Declaration <strong>of</strong><br />

Independence from Mexico.<br />

We named the building the “<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Archives Building” and had the name inscribed<br />

on the front <strong>of</strong> the building with a lighted sign.<br />

We also created a sign for Texas A&M—San<br />

Antonio and a large banner that advertised the<br />

Daughters <strong>of</strong> the Republic collection.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Daughter’s collection and <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

archives provide research opportunities for<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>essional scholars, amateur historians, and<br />

the general public. Our citizens now have the<br />

opportunity to learn how the assimilation <strong>of</strong> our<br />

unique cultures have come together to build our<br />

great city; to understand our past to prepare<br />

ourselves for our future.<br />

On the second floor, we located the <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Family Justice Center. <strong>The</strong>y provide<br />

services to assist victims <strong>of</strong> domestic violence. On<br />

the third floor, we provided space to the San<br />

Antonio Bar Association. Through their outreach<br />

programs the members <strong>of</strong> the Bar will assist<br />

citizens will legal services. Also, on the third floor<br />

will be located the public defender <strong>of</strong>fice that<br />

represent defendants who do not have the<br />

financial resources to defend themselves.<br />

So, all the trauma we went through in<br />

obtaining the building complex was well worth<br />

the effort. <strong>The</strong> citizens <strong>of</strong> <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> now<br />

have a combination <strong>of</strong> services located in a<br />

convenient location.<br />

q<br />

Exhibits from the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Archives Building<br />

C h a p t e r X I 1 F 5 9

XIII<br />

T H E B E X A R H E R I T A G E C E N T E R<br />

by Nelson Wolff<br />

q<br />

Below and on opposite page:<br />

Exhibits from the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Heritage Center.<br />

It was exciting to discover that when the Gondeck addition was removed <strong>of</strong>f the west side <strong>of</strong> the<br />

courthouse, the original front porch and double door entrance to west side <strong>of</strong> the courthouse were<br />

preserved. <strong>The</strong> entrance was midway between the north and south entrance to the courthouse and<br />

face a plaza that we created when we closed Main Street.<br />

<strong>The</strong> west side entrance opened up into 6,500 square feet <strong>of</strong> vacant space that was not usable as<br />

courtroom. Betty and I started talking about creating a heritage center in the available space. <strong>The</strong><br />

purpose would be to educate the public on the role <strong>of</strong> county government.<br />

Betty employed a local firm, Toxey/McMillan Design Associates to begin planning for the center.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y had designed the Dallas Museum <strong>of</strong> Natural History, the Austin’s Children Museum, <strong>The</strong><br />

American Heritage Airpower Museum, and had numerous other clients such as Walt Disney and<br />

Warner Brothers.<br />

Anne Toxey has a Ph.D. in Architectural History from the University <strong>of</strong> California Berkley, a B.A.<br />

in art history from Sweet Briar College, and a Master <strong>of</strong> Architecture from the University <strong>of</strong> Texas.<br />

6 0 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

C h a p t e r X I I 1 F 6 1

q<br />

Exhibits from the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Heritage Center.<br />

6 2 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

Patrick McMillan has a degree from the<br />

University <strong>of</strong> California, Los Angeles. <strong>The</strong>y have<br />

been in business together for 20 years.<br />

Together with Toxey and McMillan, Betty<br />

hosted a series <strong>of</strong> meetings with local elected<br />

county <strong>of</strong>ficials and historians. Out <strong>of</strong> the meetings<br />

came the idea that a series <strong>of</strong> displays would tell<br />

the history and how <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> operated.<br />

But as we talked about her proposal, the<br />

more I realized that citizens would get lost in<br />

the minutiae <strong>of</strong> the various <strong>of</strong>fice functions and<br />

would miss the essence <strong>of</strong> modern-day <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>, that being the actual projects that we<br />

had built and how they benefited our citizens<br />

and future generations.<br />

Betty and I met with Toxey and McMillan in<br />

their home and <strong>of</strong>fice located at 218 Washington<br />

in the King William neighborhood. <strong>The</strong>ir 1917<br />

brick mansion was built by the Gieseckie family.<br />

At one time, Toxey’s grandfather owned the home<br />

and lived there.<br />

We were served tea and cookies in their<br />

living room, surrounded by numerous artifacts<br />

that they had collected over the years. As we<br />

began to talk Toxey looked straight into my eyes<br />

and measured each word I was saying. While I<br />

sketched out a vision, she made notes and you<br />

could see her creativity coming alive.<br />

I told her that I wanted most <strong>of</strong> the heritage<br />

center to focus on major projects that the<br />

county had taken on and completed in the<br />

modern era. Over the last 20 years, the<br />

Commissioners Court have pushed hard to<br />

bring <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> into the modern era by<br />

taking on projects that heret<strong>of</strong>ore were never<br />

been considered before such as amateur sports<br />

parks, a performing arts center and the county<br />

arena where the Spurs play.<br />

At the conclusion <strong>of</strong> our discussion, she said to<br />

give her some time to put a proposal together. She<br />

stated that she would present us with a series<br />

<strong>of</strong> displays along with interactive computergenerated<br />

programing. She stated that a series <strong>of</strong><br />

dioramas, projections, and interactive panels<br />

using the latest technology would capture the<br />

attention <strong>of</strong> visitors to the museum.<br />

Toxey/McMillian brought us a conceptual<br />

design <strong>of</strong> the center in February 2016. A circular<br />

information center included television monitors<br />

that broadcasted a greeting from the county<br />

commissioners court. <strong>The</strong> exhibits start with the<br />

Spanish and Mexican administrations <strong>of</strong> Texas;<br />

Texas as an independent nation, her statehood,<br />

the post-Civil War era; and into the modern age.<br />

In the modern era, the first exhibit includes a<br />

crime scene investigation that will explain the role<br />

<strong>of</strong> the District Attorney, Sheriff, and the forensic<br />

lab and Medical Examiner’s <strong>of</strong>fice. Following is an<br />

exhibit <strong>of</strong> the new $899 million ten-story <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Sky Tower hospital and six-story<br />

downtown Clinical and Ambulatory building that<br />

the Commissioners Court Funded in 2008. It<br />

included an architectural drawing <strong>of</strong> the upcoming<br />

$390 million Women and Children’s Hospital that<br />

the Commissioner’s Court approved in 2017.<br />

Next is an exhibit <strong>of</strong> the restoration <strong>of</strong> the<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse funded by<br />

Commissioners Court, the Hidalgo Foundation<br />

and the Texas Historical Commission. <strong>The</strong>re are<br />

exhibits <strong>of</strong> the Mission Reach <strong>of</strong> the San Antonio<br />

River and San Pedro Creek that the county<br />

funded. An exhibit <strong>of</strong> the new <strong>County</strong> Arena<br />

that is home <strong>of</strong> the Spurs and Rodeo and the<br />

restored Coliseum. An exhibit <strong>of</strong> the Tobin<br />

Center for the Performing Arts, the Alameda<br />

<strong>The</strong>ater, and the Briscoe Western Art Museum,<br />

all <strong>of</strong> which were partly funded by the county.<br />

Exhibits <strong>of</strong> the four missions emphasize the<br />

World Heritage designation the county led the<br />

effort to obtain in 2015. <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Bibliotech, the world’s first all-digital public<br />

library, has an interactive site where people can<br />

register to become a patron.<br />

All <strong>of</strong> the exhibits include a series <strong>of</strong><br />

dioramas, projections, and interactive panels,<br />

virtual reality portals, text and computer games<br />

and interactive computer research terminals.<br />

Each diorama will be composed <strong>of</strong> iconic<br />

images, murals, and artifacts.<br />

During the summer <strong>of</strong> 2019, we hosted the<br />

Institute <strong>of</strong> Texan Culture’s Summer Teacher<br />

Institute who are focusing on our history and our<br />

role in governing. Teachers from all school<br />

districts participated. <strong>The</strong>y received lesson plans,<br />

take field trips and learn from our Heritage<br />

Center. <strong>The</strong>y will then be able to provide<br />

information to their students that will impress<br />

upon them the importance <strong>of</strong> local representative<br />

government, the importance <strong>of</strong> their vote, and<br />

the civic responsibility to one another.<br />

We hosted other interest groups during the<br />

summer and opened the public in August 2019.<br />

C h a p t e r X I I 1 F 6 3

q<br />

Right: Northside view <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Courthouse.<br />

6 4 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

XIV<br />

C O N C L U S I O N<br />

Over the last 18 years that I have been county judge, the Commissioners Court and the Hidalgo<br />

Foundation have restored the historic courthouse and created a courthouse complex that will serve<br />

citizens for decades to come. <strong>The</strong> courthouse complex now includes the historic courthouse, the<br />

Justice Center, the Paul Elizondo Tower, and the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Archives building.<br />

We encourage you to take a tour <strong>of</strong> the historic courthouse. Lady Justice will greet you as walk<br />

through the expanded, re-landscaped north front courtyard. <strong>The</strong>n enter the courthouse walk through<br />

restored hallways and pass beautiful historic windows. Stop by the Children’s Court, the new Presiding<br />

Court, and seven restored courtrooms. Don’t miss the Double-height restored courtroom. Spend some<br />

time in the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Heritage Center where you will learn a great deal about <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Exit on the south end <strong>of</strong> the courthouse and enjoy the expanded landscaped courtyard. <strong>The</strong>n<br />

walk across Nueva Street to the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Archives building to view the Alamo collection and<br />

look through some <strong>of</strong> the historic records <strong>of</strong> <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

It’s a tour you do not want to miss.<br />

Tracy and I want to thank my colleagues on the Commissioners Court for approving the plans and<br />

providing funding for the courthouse restoration. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> staff, headed by <strong>County</strong><br />

Manager David Smith, were instrumental in moving the project forward. <strong>The</strong> restoration would not<br />

have been possible without the great work and historical knowledge <strong>of</strong> Betty Bueche.<br />

We would like to thank our staff who have helped us put this book together: Nicole Erfurth,<br />

Monica Ramos, Betty Bueche, Deborah Velasquez, Allen Castro, Thomas Guevara, Eric Maldonaldo<br />

and Jonathan Villarreal. We also appreciate the underwriting law firms who made this book possible.<br />

We would like to also thank all <strong>of</strong> the contractors and architects who worked on the project as<br />

well the law firms, individuals, foundations, and companies who contributed to the restoration.<br />

<strong>The</strong> historic courthouse now stands as a monumental testament to our past and a proud symbol<br />

for the future. It has been a great privilege for Tracy and me to have played a role in this<br />

contribution to the citizens <strong>of</strong> <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

C h a p t e r X I V F 6 5



C O U N T Y<br />

N E L S O N<br />

J U D G E<br />

W. W O L F F<br />

B E X A R C O U N T Y C O M M I S S I O N E R S C O U R T<br />

Nelson William Wolff has represented <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> in various political <strong>of</strong>fices since 1971,<br />

when he was elected to the Texas House <strong>of</strong><br />

Representatives. <strong>The</strong>reafter, he was elected to<br />

the Texas Senate in 1973, the San Antonio City<br />

Council in 1987, and served as Mayor <strong>of</strong> San<br />

Antonio from 1991 to 1995. He currently serves<br />

as <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Judge, a position he was<br />

appointed to in 2001 and has since been elected<br />

to five times, most recently in November 2018.<br />

He is only the second person in more than a<br />

century to serve as both Mayor <strong>of</strong> San Antonio<br />

and <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Judge.<br />

Judge Wolff works to promote and improve<br />

economic and workforce development in <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>. He is an adamant supporter <strong>of</strong> the<br />

emerging local tech industry and helped form<br />

the Innovation Fund, a $1 million allocation<br />

dedicated to spur jobs and growth in the tech<br />

sector. He also led the development and creation<br />

<strong>of</strong> BiblioTech, the nation’s first all-digital public<br />

library which now serves the community<br />

through three main branches and several kiosks.<br />

<strong>The</strong> third branch, located in a San Antonio<br />

Housing Authority facility on the eastside <strong>of</strong> San<br />

Antonio, opened in April 2018.<br />

Judge Wolff also initiated a $415 million<br />

visitor tax-backed bond that aided the<br />

construction <strong>of</strong> 13 amateur sports facilities, the<br />

Tobin Center for the Fine Arts, improvements to<br />

the AT&T Center, and improvements to the San<br />

Antonio River, including the eight-mile Mission<br />

Reach. River improvements proved vital to the<br />

UNESCO World Heritage designation for the<br />

Spanish colonial missions on San Antonio’s<br />

South Side.<br />

Working with <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>, the San<br />

Antonio River Authority, and the City <strong>of</strong> San<br />

Antonio, Judge Wolff encouraged additional<br />

growth and city beautification with the San<br />

Pedro Creek Improvements Project. Phase 1 <strong>of</strong><br />

the project opened on May 5, 2018—<strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>’s 300th birthday. In addition to<br />

boosting economic development, the<br />

improvements project is designed to revitalize<br />

natural habitat and improve flood control. In<br />

conjunction, Judge Wolff also aided in the<br />

continued improvement <strong>of</strong> HALT (High Water<br />

Alert Lifesaving Technology) and the creation <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Bexar</strong>Flood.org.<br />

Judge Wolff has focused on improving<br />

county services. <strong>County</strong> improvements in<br />

highway and flood control infrastructure have<br />

increased during his tenure. <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> has<br />

reformed the criminal justice system to help<br />

people with mental health and drug issues.<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> opened the Justice Intake and<br />

Assessment Center in April 2019. Two new<br />

sheriff substations, Northeast and Southwest,<br />

opened in November 2018 and February 2019<br />

respectively. Judge Wolff maintains continued<br />

partnerships with the 26 suburban cities to<br />

ensure all <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> citizens are safe and<br />

receive the best possible services.<br />

Judge Wolff and his family built two large<br />

companies—Alamo Enterprises and Sun Harvest<br />

Stores—and sold them both to national companies.<br />

Together, Judge Wolff and his wife Tracy,<br />

President <strong>of</strong> the Hidalgo Foundation, have six<br />

children and eight grandchildren.<br />

6 6 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

T R A C Y W O L F F<br />

F O U N D E R A N D P R E S I D E N T O F T H E<br />

H I D A L G O F O U N D A T I O N O F B E X A R C O U N T Y<br />

For more than two decades, Tracy Wolff<br />

has served as a community volunteer and<br />

fundraiser, primarily focusing on children and<br />

families issues.<br />

As first Lady <strong>of</strong> San Antonio, when her<br />

husband was Mayor in the 1990’s, she<br />

established a three million dollar fund in the<br />

San Antonio Area Foundation for quality<br />

childcare called ”SMART START”. She also<br />

raised corporate dollars for the downtown<br />

public Library as it was being built, and helped<br />

to establish the original Children’s Museum.<br />

Since 2001, Tracy Wolff, has served as First<br />

Lady <strong>of</strong> <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>, along with her husband,<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Judge Nelson W. Wolff. In 2002,<br />

Tracy created the Hidalgo Foundation <strong>of</strong> <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>, a 501C 3 to served three major goals.<br />

GOAL #1: RESTORATION <strong>of</strong> the Courthouse—<br />

<strong>The</strong> Hidalgo Foundation was charged with raising<br />

six million dollars towards the restoration <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Historic Courtrooms.<br />

GOAL #2: CHILDREN—Because <strong>of</strong> her<br />

commitment to children’s issues she added the<br />

creation <strong>of</strong> the Children Courts. <strong>The</strong>y are now<br />

the model for the Nation.<br />

GOAL #3: EDUCATION—With her husband,<br />

Judge Wolff, they created the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

BIBLIOTECH the first all-digital public library<br />

in <strong>The</strong> United States. Free to the residents<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>, there are three physical<br />

locations, with over 400,000 e-books in<br />

circulation, 86,000 e-books in the BiblioTech<br />

collection, over 425,000 on-site visitors. A<br />

Ride & Read School Bus program was recently<br />

added. <strong>The</strong>re are kiosks located at all the<br />

Military bases, University Health System<br />

Hospital, <strong>The</strong> Central Jury Room and Wi-Fi in<br />

the VIA bus system. Many educational programs<br />

are <strong>of</strong>fered that support STEM/STREAM and<br />

other opportunities to prepare young people for<br />

college or the workforce.<br />

Over the years, Tracy has received many<br />

awards but outstanding is the International<br />

Recognition <strong>of</strong> <strong>The</strong> DIF Monterey Service<br />

Award, for facilitating childcare training with a<br />

sister city & providing medical supplies.<br />

A special honor from the Harvey E. Najim<br />

Foundation was the naming <strong>of</strong> a Respite Care<br />

Home for Children in her honor. Tracy is also a<br />

member <strong>of</strong> the Women’s Hall <strong>of</strong> Fame and <strong>The</strong><br />

Mother <strong>of</strong> the Year Award, AVANCE San Antonio.<br />

Tracy is married to <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Judge Nelson<br />

W. Wolff and together they have a family <strong>of</strong> six<br />

children and eight beautiful grandchildren.<br />

A b o u t T h e A u t h o r s F 6 7


A R C H I T E C T S<br />

& C O N T R A C T O R S<br />

F O R T H E R E S T O R A T I O N P R O J E C T<br />

3 D I n t e r n a t i o n a l<br />

A l a m o A r c h i t e c t s<br />

A r c h i t e c t u r a S A<br />

F i s h e r H e c k A r c h i t e c t s<br />

R o b e y A r c h i t e c t s<br />

S a l d a n a a n d A s s o c i a t e s<br />

V i t t e t t a<br />

F o r d , P o w e l l , C a r s o n ( B a s e m e n t C o u n t y C l e r k S p a c e )<br />

P i w o n k a S t u r o c k ( G e n e r a t o r R e p l a c e m e n t )<br />

C O N S T R U C T O R S A N D A S S O C I A T E S<br />

J o e r i s<br />

K u n z<br />

M J B o y l e<br />

P u g h C o n s t r u c t o r s<br />

S t o d d a r d C o n s t r u c t i o n<br />

T e b b e n<br />

A l p h a ( B a s e m e n t C o u n t y C l e r k S p a c e )<br />

6 8 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y


B E X A R C O U N T Y C O U R T H O U S E R E S T O R A T I O N<br />

P R O J E C T<br />

A W A R D S<br />

• 2002 Excellence Award, Texas Construction Magazine, for<br />

Engineering Design <strong>of</strong> Scaffolding<br />

• 2003 Historic Preservation Award, San Antonio Conservation<br />

Society, <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse Restoration<br />

• 2003 Excellence Award, Texas Construction Magazine,<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Exterior Restoration and Interior Life<br />

Safety Improvements<br />

• 2003 Excellence Award, Associated Builders and Contractors,<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse Restoration<br />

• 2003 Mayor's Choice Award, SA Chapter <strong>of</strong> American Institute<br />

<strong>of</strong> Architects, Exterior Restoration <strong>of</strong> <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse<br />

• 2005 Model for the Nation Award, Courtroom 21, School <strong>of</strong> Law,<br />

College <strong>of</strong> William and Mary, for Childrens Technology Courts<br />

• 2008 Project <strong>of</strong> the Year, American Subcontractor Association,<br />

Mission RoadJuvenile Campus Phase 1<br />

• 2010 Bill Sinkin Award - Build Green San Antonio, City <strong>of</strong><br />

San Antonio Green Building, WOW on-line tracking/public<br />

reporting <strong>of</strong> <strong>County</strong>-wide energy conservation (includes<br />

courthouse - window retr<strong>of</strong>its for 509 historic windows, and<br />

air conditioning system modifications)<br />

• 2010 Award <strong>of</strong> Merit, illuminating Engineering Society <strong>of</strong><br />

North America, Exterior facade lighting design for historic<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse<br />

• 2010 Design Award, American Institute <strong>of</strong> Architects, Design<br />

<strong>of</strong> Andy Mireles Juvenile Probation Center<br />

• 2011 Refreshing Ideas Award, San Antonio Water System, Air<br />

conditioning condensation used for restored historic fountain,<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse<br />

• 2011 Green IT Award for Commitment to Sustainability, GTC<br />

Southwest Center for Digital Government, WOW on-line<br />

tracking/public reporting <strong>of</strong> <strong>County</strong>-wide energy conservation<br />

• 2011 Golden Trowel Award - Honorable Mention, San<br />

Antonio Masonry Contractors Association, Courtyard <strong>of</strong> Paul<br />

Elizondo Tower<br />

• 2011 Golden Trowel Award - 1st Place, San Antonio Masonry<br />

Contractors Association, Paul Elizondo Tower<br />

• 2012 AGC Report Card - 1st Place, Annual Building Owners<br />

Survey, Associated General Contractors, San Antonio Chapter<br />

• 2015 Commissioners Court Proclamation, for accomplishments<br />

in obtaining World Heritage inscription for the Missions <strong>of</strong><br />

San Antonio<br />

• 2016 San Antonio Conservation Society Award, for<br />

restoration <strong>of</strong> the historic 1897 Double-height courtroom,<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse<br />

• 2016 People's Choice Award, for restoration <strong>of</strong> the historic<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse<br />

• 2016 Golden Trowel Awards Superior Design, San Antonio<br />

Masonry Contractors Association, for restoration and<br />

renovation <strong>of</strong> the Gondeck Removal, <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse<br />

• 2016 Historic Restoration Award, Preservation Texas<br />

• 2010 Best Practices Award, Texas Association <strong>of</strong> Counties, Air<br />

conditioning condensation used for restored historic fountain,<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse<br />

A p p e n d i x F 6 9


A R C H I T E C T S<br />

& C O N T R A C T O R S<br />

F O R T H E R E S T O R A T I O N P R O J E C T<br />

C O U R T H O U S E R E S T O R A T I O N F U N D R A I S I N G<br />


• SBC<br />

• McNutt Foundation<br />

• Valero Energy Corporation<br />

• USAA Foundation<br />

• AT&T<br />

• H.E.B.<br />

• Spurs Sports & Entertainment<br />

• San Antonio Conservation Society<br />

• Ron & Karen Herrmann Family Foundation<br />


• Texas Historic Commission<br />

<strong>The</strong> public/private partnership between the Hidalgo Foundation and <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> has resulted in the Hidalgo Foundation raising<br />

more than $15 million from local and state foundations, philanthropy, and private citizens with the <strong>County</strong> raising an additional $10<br />

million in matching funds.<br />

A S P E C I A L T H A N K Y O U T O T H E B E X A R C O U N T Y L A W C O M M U N I T Y :<br />

• Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP<br />

• <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Women’s Bar Foundation<br />

• Bracewell & Giuliani<br />

• Bracewell & Patterson, LLP<br />

• Branton & Hall, P.C.<br />

• Bull & Weed, P.C.<br />

• Cox Smith Matthews, Incorporated<br />

• Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP<br />

• Loeffler Tuggey Pauerstein<br />

• Martin, Drought & Torres Incorporated<br />

• Matthews & Branscomb<br />

• McCamish, Socks & Montpas, P.C.<br />

• Judge Ed Minarich<br />

• Prichard, Hawkins & Young, LLP<br />

7 0 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

• Cr<strong>of</strong>ts & Callaway, A Pr<strong>of</strong>essional Corporation<br />

• Curney, Garcia, Farmer, Pickering & House, P.C.<br />

• Davidson & Troilo<br />

• Davis Cedillo & Mendoza, Inc.<br />

• Earl & Brown, PC<br />

• Fullbright and Jaworski<br />

• Haynes and Boone, LLP<br />

• Heard, Linebarger, Graham, Googan, et al.<br />

• Higdon, Hardy and Zuflacht, LLP<br />

• Jackson Walker, LLP.<br />

• Jane Freeman Deyeso, Attorney at Law<br />

• Jenkins & Gilchrist, PC<br />

• Law Offices <strong>of</strong> Charles S. Frigerio, P.C.<br />

• <strong>The</strong> Honorable Susan Reed<br />

• Rosenthal, LLP<br />

• Strasburger & Price, LLP<br />

• San Antonio Bar Association<br />

• San Antonio Bar Association Family Law Section<br />

• San Antonio Bar Auxiliary<br />

• San Antonio Chapter <strong>of</strong> the American Board <strong>of</strong> Trial Advocates<br />

• San Antonio Young Lawyers.<br />

• Jill Torbet<br />

• Pablo Uresti, Trial Lawyer<br />

• Gilbert Vara, Jr.<br />

• Winstead Secrest & Minick, P.C.<br />

• Women’s Law Association at St. Mary’s University School <strong>of</strong> Law<br />

• <strong>The</strong> Law Offices <strong>of</strong> Pat Maloney<br />

C O U R T H O U S E R E S T O R A T I O N F U N D R A I S I N G<br />


• Goldsbury Foundation<br />

• Santikos Fund<br />

• San Antonio Area Foundation<br />

• Meadows Foundation<br />

• Harvey E. Najim Family Foundation<br />

• Baptist Health Foundation <strong>of</strong> San Antonio<br />

• Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc.<br />

• Temple Beth-el<br />

• <strong>The</strong> Tobin Endowment<br />


• U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration<br />

• Texas Department <strong>of</strong> Family and Protective Services (CPS HOPES)<br />

• Governor’s Office<br />

A p p e n d i x F 7 1


B E X A R C O U N T Y O R G A N I Z A T I O N C H A R T<br />

T I N A S M I T H D E A N<br />

Assistant <strong>County</strong> Manager<br />

D AV I D M A R Q U E Z<br />

Executive Director<br />

C O M M I S S I O N E R S C O U RT<br />

Economic &<br />

Community Development<br />

M I K E L O Z I T O<br />

Director<br />

D AV I D L. S M I T H<br />

<strong>County</strong> Manager<br />

Office <strong>of</strong> Criminal Justice<br />

D A N C U R RY<br />

Director<br />

Facilities Management<br />

T H O M A S G U E VA R A<br />

Chief <strong>of</strong> Staff to the<br />

<strong>County</strong> Manager<br />

R E N E E G R E E N<br />

<strong>County</strong> Engineer<br />

Public Works<br />

L A U R A<br />

C O L E<br />

D i r e c t o r<br />

B i b l i o T e c h<br />

M A R K G A G E R<br />

Chief IT Officer<br />

Infor mation Technology<br />

R E N E E WAT S O N<br />

Director<br />

M O N I C A<br />

R A M O S<br />

Small, Minority & Women<br />

Owned Business Enterprise<br />

P u b l i c I n f o r m a t i o n<br />

O f f i c e r<br />

B E T T Y B U E C H E<br />

Director<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> Heritage & Parks Office<br />

K Y L E<br />

C O L E M A N<br />

E m e r g a n c y M a n a g e r<br />

S E T H M CCABE<br />

Director<br />

Budget Department<br />

7 2 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y


B E X A R C O U N T Y H I S T O R I C A L C O M M I S S I O N<br />

MEMBERS:<br />

• Dr. Felix D. Almaraz, Jr. (Chair)<br />

• Dan Arellano<br />

• Hector J. Cardenas<br />

• Joseph DeLeon<br />

• Angelica Docog<br />

• Alan Ernst<br />

• Dr. Francis X. Galan<br />

• Mickey Killian<br />

• Clinton M. McKenzie<br />

• Sue Ann Pemberton<br />

• Dr. Amy Porter<br />

• Jesus R. “Corky” Rubio<br />


• Dr. Scott J. Baird<br />

• Dr. David Carlson<br />

• Frank Faulkner<br />

• Jose G. Jimenez<br />

• Brother Edward J. Loch, S.M.<br />

• Dr. Sharon Skrobarcek<br />

• Gary W. Houston<br />


• Virginia S. Nicholas<br />

A p p e n d i x F 7 3

7 4 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y


N e l s o n a n d Tr a c y W o l f f a r e e s p e c i a l l y g r a t e f u l t o t h e l e g a l<br />

p r o f e s s i o n a l s w h o m a d e t h i s b o o k p o s s i b l e a s o u r<br />

f i n a n c i a l u n d e r w r i t e r s .<br />

E a c h u n d e r w r i t e r i s f e a t u r e d i n t h i s s e c t i o n w i t h a p r o f i l e<br />

o f t h e i r l a w f i r m .<br />

U n d e r w r i t e r s F 7 5

JTM<br />


LLC<br />

Drawing on a long and successful career in<br />

business, law, government and education, John<br />

T. Montford established his own consulting and<br />

lobbying firm, JTM Consulting, LLC, in 2010.<br />

A graduate <strong>of</strong> the University <strong>of</strong> Texas–Austin<br />

and the UT law school, Montford’s pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

career began as an <strong>of</strong>ficer in the U.S. Marine<br />

Corps. Following his active duty tour, Montford<br />

launched his legal career in Lubbock, eventually<br />

winning <strong>of</strong>fice as district attorney where he<br />

earned a reputation for being especially tough<br />

on violent <strong>of</strong>fenders.<br />

His success as district attorney propelled<br />

Montford to the Texas Senate, where he served<br />

with distinction for 14 years and was regularly<br />

recognized as one the “Top 10 Best Legislators.”<br />

Montford was the driving force behind several<br />

important pieces <strong>of</strong> legislation critical to the<br />

state. He sponsored 520 bills, including a<br />

statewide water plan, a civil justice reform<br />

package, reform <strong>of</strong> the “Deceptive Trade<br />

Practices Act,” tort reform, insurance reform,<br />

reform <strong>of</strong> the workers’ compensation system,<br />

and bills to support higher education.<br />

In 1996, Montford was selected as the first<br />

chancellor <strong>of</strong> the Texas Tech University System<br />

in a move that attracted attention because the<br />

university went outside <strong>of</strong> academia to fill the<br />

position. His successful tenure as chancellor<br />

proved the wisdom <strong>of</strong> that decision. He elevated<br />

the university’s academic standing and<br />

recognition, established records in raising funds,<br />

facilitated $1 billion in new construction and<br />

campus upgrades, and guided the university’s<br />

overall growth. Following completion <strong>of</strong> his<br />

services as chancellor, Montford was named<br />

chancellor emeritus in 2002.<br />

In 2001, Montford was recruited by SBC<br />

Communications to lead the company’s<br />

legislative and regulatory affairs in Texas and<br />

twelve other states. Following the merger <strong>of</strong> SBC<br />

and AT&T, in 2007, he was promoted to<br />

president–western region for the new AT&T,<br />

responsible for states west <strong>of</strong> the Mississippi. He<br />

became senior vice president, state legislative<br />

affairs for AT&T in 2008.<br />

At AT&T, Montford helped shepherd passage <strong>of</strong><br />

landmark legislation, including major regulatory<br />

reform bills enabling telecommunications<br />

companies to compete on a level playing field as<br />

well as enter new markets, such as video services.<br />

In Texas, he led the team that secured passage <strong>of</strong><br />

video franchise reform legislation, the first <strong>of</strong> its<br />

kind in the country. This paved the way for<br />

passage <strong>of</strong> subsequent video franchise reform in<br />

every other state within AT&T territory for which<br />

he provided oversight.<br />

In 2010, Montford was hired by General<br />

Motors Company as senior advisor for<br />

government relations and global public policy to<br />

help rebuild the new GM. He served as a<br />

member <strong>of</strong> the GM Executive Committee and<br />

chairman <strong>of</strong> the board <strong>of</strong> the General Motors<br />

Foundation in 2010 and 2011. He reorganized<br />

GM Public Policy Teams into four groups—<br />

federal, state, international, and GM Foundation.<br />

This resulted in substantial cost savings, more<br />

accountability, and demonstrable results for each<br />

team. Montford instituted effective legislative<br />

and regulatory teams for Congress and all fifty<br />

states and established signature programs for the<br />

GM Foundation, including the “Buick Achievers”<br />

National Scholarship Program.<br />

In addition to delivering hundreds <strong>of</strong> speeches<br />

in public life, academia and business, Montford<br />

has written or co-authored several significant<br />

legal books and articles, and written forwards for<br />

books on Texas history. His most recent<br />

publication, Board Games…Straight Talk for New<br />

Directors and Good Governance with co-author Joe<br />

McCool, is a comprehensive work about the<br />

many aspects, responsibilities and challenges <strong>of</strong><br />

serving as a member <strong>of</strong> boards <strong>of</strong> directors for<br />

“for-pr<strong>of</strong>it” publicly listed companies.<br />

Montford has also established himself as an<br />

energetic and successful leader <strong>of</strong> many nonpr<strong>of</strong>it<br />

business and civic organizations. He<br />

served as 2005 chairman for the Greater San<br />

Antonio Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce, and was<br />

chairman <strong>of</strong> the board <strong>of</strong> the San Antonio<br />

Economic Development Foundation in 2006<br />

and 2007. He is former president <strong>of</strong> the board <strong>of</strong><br />

the National Western Art Foundation, for which<br />

he personally secured the lead gift to create the<br />

Dolph and Janey Briscoe National Western Art<br />

Museum in San Antonio. Among many other<br />

accomplishments, Montford served as chair <strong>of</strong><br />

the Texas State Parks Advisory Committee from<br />

2006 to 2009.<br />

Montford’s spouse, Debbie, attended Texas<br />

Tech University and the University <strong>of</strong> Texas. She<br />

is an energetic community volunteer, an effective<br />

7 6 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

advocate for the arts, and a philanthropist. She is<br />

a former chair <strong>of</strong> the Dolph and Janey Briscoe<br />

Western Art Museum Board <strong>of</strong> Directors and<br />

continues to serve on its advisory board. She was<br />

chair <strong>of</strong> the board <strong>of</strong> the San Antonio Symphony<br />

and was appointed by the governor <strong>of</strong> Texas to<br />

the board <strong>of</strong> regents <strong>of</strong> the Texas Tech University<br />

System, and she has also served on the board <strong>of</strong><br />

governors for the Cancer <strong>The</strong>rapy Research<br />

Center in San Antonio. In 2010, Debbie was<br />

honored by the Greater San Antonio Chamber <strong>of</strong><br />

Commerce with the Hope Award for<br />

philanthropic fundraising. Presently she serves<br />

on the Texas Humanities Board.<br />

John and Debbie have three children. Mindy<br />

is first assistant district attorney for Travis<br />

<strong>County</strong>; Melonie started her own fitness and<br />

health business in 2012 after serving with the<br />

law firm <strong>of</strong> Baker, Botts, LLP; and John Ross,<br />

MD, a board-certified nephrologist, is an<br />

assistant pr<strong>of</strong>essor at the University <strong>of</strong> Colorado<br />

Medical School.<br />

G<br />

John T. Montford.<br />


U n d e r w r i t e r s F 7 7

G<br />


LLP<br />

From top to bottom:<br />

Richard C. Danysh.<br />

Leslie Selig Byrd.<br />

James P. Plummer.<br />

William T. Avila.<br />

A small law firm that that had a modest<br />

beginning nearly seventy-five years ago is now an<br />

international powerhouse with more than 350<br />

lawyers and <strong>of</strong>fices in New York, Washington,<br />

San Antonio, Hartford, Dallas, and Austin, as well<br />

as overseas <strong>of</strong>fices in London and Dubai.<br />

It all started in November 1945, when two<br />

brothers—Searcy and Fentress Bracewell—just<br />

home from their service in World War II, joined<br />

their father, J. S. Bracewell, and Judge Bert Tunks<br />

to form a new law firm named Bracewell & Tunks.<br />

Searcy Bracewell was elected to the Texas<br />

Senate in 1946, representing Harris <strong>County</strong>. He<br />

ultimately became the majority leader <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Senate. <strong>The</strong> development <strong>of</strong> the new law firm was<br />

led by Fentress Bracewell.<br />

Harry W. Patterson joined the firm in 1951. In<br />

1966, the firm was renamed Bracewell & Patterson.<br />

It became known as Bracewell LLP in 2016.<br />

From the beginning, the Bracewells understood<br />

that for their firm to succeed they needed to<br />

maintain a relentless focus on pr<strong>of</strong>essional excellence.<br />

As they dreamed <strong>of</strong> building a larger law<br />

firm, they also understood that the firm’s roots<br />

needed to be deeply embedded in a culture<br />

emphasizing personal relationships and teamwork.<br />

Based on Bracewell’s great success as a<br />

statewide and community leader before the war,<br />

the Bracewells believed that a commitment to<br />

public and community service should be a key<br />

component <strong>of</strong> their firm. This commitment to<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>essional excellence, to personal relationships<br />

and teamwork, and to public and community<br />

service, remain the firm’s cornerstones.<br />

Bracewell’s reputation for pr<strong>of</strong>essional excellence<br />

began in the courtroom. Bracewell was well<br />

known as a fierce and relentless litigator, and the<br />

post-war era saw the firm assume and extend that<br />

reputation. <strong>The</strong> firm’s reputation for pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

excellence grew from insurance defense to labor,<br />

tax, condemnation and business litigation. In the<br />

1960s and early 1970s, the growing Texas economy<br />

began to attract business enterprises from all<br />

over the world, as well as financing from money<br />

center banks. Bracewell’s litigation practice evolved<br />

during this period and the firm was involved in a<br />

number <strong>of</strong> large-scale commercial disputes.<br />

As the energy and financial services sectors<br />

grew dramatically in Texas during the 1970s,<br />

Bracewell’s reputation for pr<strong>of</strong>essional excellence<br />

attracted clients focused on transactional and<br />

7 8 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

commercial matters. This inspired the firm to grow<br />

its transactional practice. In the mid-1970s, the<br />

firm began adding like-minded partners focused<br />

on corporate transactions and bank finance.<br />

Bracewell’s reputation in the courtroom was soon<br />

matched by a growing reputation for handling<br />

major M&A transactions and complex financings.<br />

Bracewell’s reputation and size grew in<br />

the 1970s and 1980s. <strong>The</strong> firm’s geographic reach<br />

expanded to serve an increasingly diverse client<br />

base. New <strong>of</strong>fices were opened throughout Texas<br />

and in Washington, DC, anchored by long-time<br />

Bracewell partners and new lateral partners.<br />

As the world’s economy became increasingly<br />

globalized, Bracewell’s partners recognized the<br />

need to distinguish the firm among elite law firms.<br />

This challenge was successfully met by focusing on<br />

the firm’s strengths in core industries—energy,<br />

infrastructure, finance and technology–along with<br />

strategic practice areas such as public finance, government<br />

relations, financial restructuring, commercial<br />

litigation, real estate and white-collar defense.<br />

This led to an expansion <strong>of</strong> the firm’s footprint to<br />

include ten <strong>of</strong>fices located in Texas, New York City,<br />

Seattle, Hartford, London, and Dubai.<br />

Bracewell’s culture today embodies the original<br />

commitments made by the Bracewells and<br />

the distinguished lawyers who followed them—<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>essional excellence, personal relationships<br />

and teamwork—and a shared commitment to<br />

public and community service.<br />

Bracewell lawyers have been recognized by<br />

their peers with membership in a number <strong>of</strong> prestigious<br />

groups, including the American College <strong>of</strong><br />

Trial Lawyers, the International Academy <strong>of</strong> Trial<br />

Lawyers, the American Board <strong>of</strong> Trial Advocates,<br />

the American College <strong>of</strong> Bond Counsel, and the<br />

International Insolvency Institute, among others.<br />

In addition, many Bracewell lawyers and practice<br />

groups are recognized by virtually every prestigious<br />

legal ranking organization in the United<br />

States, United Kingdom and the Middle East.<br />

Bracewell partners and other senior lawyers<br />

have served in the U.S. Senate and House <strong>of</strong><br />

Representatives and as the governor <strong>of</strong> Texas, as<br />

ambassadors, and as federal judges. <strong>The</strong>y have also<br />

served as regents <strong>of</strong> several leading public universities<br />

and as chairpersons <strong>of</strong> some <strong>of</strong> the most<br />

important state and municipal regulatory agencies.<br />

<strong>The</strong> San Antonio <strong>of</strong>fice <strong>of</strong> Bracewell includes<br />

ten lawyers, and the firm is active in the San<br />

Antonio community. <strong>The</strong> firm hosts a firm-wide<br />

Day <strong>of</strong> Service in observance <strong>of</strong> Martin Luther<br />

King, Jr. Day and is also involved in the San<br />

Antonio Food Bank Community Garden.<br />

Bracewell is grounded in a strong and unwavering<br />

commitment to a culture <strong>of</strong> pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

excellence, teamwork and personal relationships<br />

based on trust among all Bracewell lawyers and<br />

staff. <strong>The</strong> firm carries this emphasis on teamwork<br />

and transparency into its relationships<br />

with its associates, counsel, staff and—most<br />

importantly—its clients.<br />

G<br />

From top to bottom:<br />

Jane H. Macon.<br />

James H. Kizziar, Jr.<br />

Carey R. Troell.<br />

U n d e r w r i t e r s F 7 9

NICHOLAS &<br />

BARRERA, P.C.<br />

For nearly sixty years, a firm founded on a<br />

handshake has provided expert legal assistance<br />

for all individuals, without regard to race,<br />

gender, religion, civic, and/or political affiliation.<br />

This long record <strong>of</strong> pr<strong>of</strong>essional service has made<br />

Nicholas & Barrera, P.C. one <strong>of</strong> the most<br />

successful and respected law firms in Texas.<br />

As experienced trial lawyers, Nicholas &<br />

Barrera represents clients in a wide variety <strong>of</strong><br />

litigation matters, including criminal trial<br />

defense, civil litigation, state and federal<br />

criminal appeals, personal injury and wrongful<br />

death, and family/divorce law/custody matters,<br />

wills and probate.<br />

It all began in 1951 when Anthony Nicholas<br />

and Roy R. Barrera, Sr., were assistant district<br />

attorneys with the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> District<br />

Attorney’s <strong>of</strong>fice under Austin Anderson. After<br />

several years with the D.A.’s <strong>of</strong>fice, Roy decided<br />

it was time to open his own <strong>of</strong>fice. When he<br />

informed his friend “Nic” <strong>of</strong> his plans to leave,<br />

Nic suggested he “think <strong>of</strong> it over for a time<br />

before leaving.” Roy replied that Nic had about<br />

ten minutes to think about joining him because<br />

he had already turned in his resignation! On a<br />

handshake, Roy and Anthony became full<br />

partners under the condition that everything<br />

would be split fifty-fifty, all income and<br />

expenses would be shared equally. This<br />

relationship lasted more than fifty years until<br />

Nic’s death in 2011. Research reveals this was<br />

the oldest unchanged legal partnership in the<br />

state’s history.<br />

By 1968, the partnership was on a firm<br />

footing and Anthony directed the firm while<br />

Roy accepted an appointment from then<br />

Governor John Connally. Roy was named<br />

Secretary <strong>of</strong> State to fill the unexpired term <strong>of</strong><br />

Secretary John Hill, who had vacated the <strong>of</strong>fice<br />

to run for governor. To the delight <strong>of</strong> his wife,<br />

Carmen, Roy and Carmen acted as <strong>of</strong>ficial hosts<br />

<strong>of</strong> the world’s Visiting Dignitaries to Hemisfair<br />

68, most notably, Prince Rainier, III and Princess<br />

Grace (Kelly) <strong>of</strong> Monaco.<br />

From its beginnings, Nicholas & Barrera has<br />

been involved in a number <strong>of</strong> high-pr<strong>of</strong>ile cases<br />

that have attracted national attention, some <strong>of</strong><br />

which have gone all the way to the U.S.<br />

Supreme Court.<br />

Shortly after their departure from the<br />

D.A.’s <strong>of</strong>fice, a case Roy had handled as an<br />

assistant D.A. went to the U.S. Supreme Court.<br />

<strong>The</strong> D.A. asked Roy to defend his position<br />

in the case <strong>of</strong> Alcorta v. State <strong>of</strong> Texas and make<br />

the oral argument before the nation’s highest<br />

court. In this case, a man had been convicted <strong>of</strong><br />

murdering his wife, but claimed it occurred in a<br />

fit <strong>of</strong> passion. <strong>The</strong> court held that the<br />

petitioner was denied due process <strong>of</strong> law and<br />

the case was remanded.<br />

Roy was part <strong>of</strong> the defense team that tried a<br />

case in state court where, for the first time, a<br />

corporation, rather than an individual, was<br />

charged with murder. In this 1985 case,<br />

documented in the book Death Without Dignity,<br />

the State <strong>of</strong> Texas charged Autumn Hills<br />

8 0 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

Nursing Home and five <strong>of</strong> its executives with<br />

the murder <strong>of</strong> an eighty-seven-year-old woman.<br />

<strong>The</strong> six-month-long jury trial, one <strong>of</strong> the longest<br />

in Texas history, resulted from charges that the<br />

nursing home had mistreated and abused its<br />

patients. <strong>The</strong> book focuses on sixty-four<br />

patients and how they died while in the care <strong>of</strong><br />

the facility. In a review <strong>of</strong> the book, the Houston<br />

Post wrote, “<strong>The</strong> reader is left to decide if this<br />

was a prosecution or—as the defense insisted—<br />

a persecution. <strong>The</strong> Autumn Hills Nursing Home<br />

case ended in a mistrial.<br />

Roy also defended Woodrow Collums, an<br />

elderly client, who entered his brother’s<br />

nursing home where he lay in a vegetative<br />

state from Alzheimer’s’ disease and put five<br />

bullets in his head. <strong>The</strong> 1981 case drew national<br />

attention as a “mercy killing” and focused<br />

attention on the moral dilemma faced by the<br />

relatives <strong>of</strong> terminally ill people. Cullums<br />

received ten years’ probation.<br />

In another notable case in which Roy was<br />

lead counsel and his youngest son, Bobby,<br />

sat as second chair—the so-called “Craig’s List<br />

Escort” murder trial—the defendant was found<br />

“not guilty” based on “a long-ago written<br />

statute that provides for the justified ‘use <strong>of</strong><br />

force’ to prevent a theft <strong>of</strong> property in the<br />

night.” Roy and Bobby debated for months prior<br />

to trial the avenue most judicious and<br />

expeditious for the defense <strong>of</strong> the murder<br />

charge—it was papa’s defense theory that hit the<br />

nail on the head.<br />

Roy Barrera, Sr. and his son, Roy Barrera, Jr.,<br />

are on opposite sides <strong>of</strong> the political spectrum,<br />

but live and work together in complete harmony.<br />

Roy, Sr. is a lifetime Democrat while Roy, Jr. was<br />

appointed to a State District Court bench by<br />

then Governor Bill Clements, a Republican.<br />

Another son, Gilbert E. Barrera, also attended<br />

law school but followed his passion for art and<br />

became a noted sculptor, instead. He was selected<br />

by the Hidalgo Foundation to restore a centuryold<br />

fountain and create a new “Lady Justice” for<br />

the crown <strong>of</strong> the fountain now installed in front<br />

<strong>of</strong> the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Courthouse, the state’s<br />

largest and oldest courthouse.<br />

Currently, Nicholas & Barrera includes nine<br />

attorneys who are individual practitioners—sons<br />

Roy R. Barrera, Jr., and Robert J. “Bobby” Barrera,<br />

and grandsons Roy R. Barrera III and Mark<br />

Joseph Barrera, along with Roy Barrera, Sr., make<br />

up the backbone <strong>of</strong> the <strong>of</strong>fice. Roy, Sr., now<br />

ninety-two years old, likes to joke that he could<br />

found a bar association all by himself. Two sons,<br />

5 grandchildren, 3 nephews, a great nephew, and<br />

2 grandsons-in-law all became attorneys.<br />

Also following family work traditions, Roy<br />

Sr.’s youngest daughter, Carmen Alice, a former<br />

Administrative Assistant for then U.S. District<br />

Judge H. F. “Hippo” Garcia, has for the past<br />

nineteen years, worked for her father as a legal<br />

secretary and maintained the family Law<br />

Offices. Nicholas & Barrera is definitely one<br />

dedicated “family affair.”<br />

U n d e r w r i t e r s F 8 1


& MENDOZA,<br />

INC.<br />

G<br />

Top: J. Russell Davis.<br />

Middle: Ricardo Cedillo.<br />

Bottom: Ron Mendoza.<br />

<strong>The</strong> lunch meeting Russell Davis and Ricardo<br />

Cedillo had at El Mirador Restaurant in San<br />

Antonio back in 1986 changed their lives and<br />

was the genesis <strong>of</strong> a new law firm, Davis &<br />

Cedillo, Inc.<br />

<strong>The</strong> firm has deep roots in San Antonio. Russell<br />

Davis, a Jefferson High School and University <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas (UT) undergrad and Law School graduate;<br />

Cedillo, a product <strong>of</strong> Holy Cross High School, St.<br />

Mary’s and Harvard Law School; and Norman<br />

Davis, also from the UT Law School, and a wellrespected<br />

business lawyer in San Antonio for over<br />

fifty years, were the founding partners.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y left larger firms and knew they wanted<br />

their new law firm to meet their client’s needs<br />

with uncompromising quality and integrity.<br />

Even more, they wanted their clients to have<br />

unquestioned value in the work they received.<br />

Also vital was an environment where they<br />

would enjoy coming to work and be proud <strong>of</strong><br />

the services the firm provides to its clients.<br />

Today, Davis, Cedillo & Mendoza, Inc.<br />

concentrates its areas <strong>of</strong> practice around the<br />

strengths <strong>of</strong> its three name partners, Cedillo in<br />

commercial litigation; Davis in business<br />

transactional matters with an emphasis on real<br />

estate; and Ron Mendoza, in insurance defense.<br />

Mendoza, like Cedillo, is a Holy Cross High<br />

School alumnus, and is a UT undergrad and<br />

Law School graduate as well. He joined the firm<br />

in 1991, after years as a felony prosecutor in the<br />

<strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> District Attorney’s Office,<br />

bringing substantial trial experience to<br />

insurance defense. Additional shareholders <strong>of</strong><br />

the firm are Les J. Strieber III, Derick J. Rodgers,<br />

Brian L. Lewis and Brandy C. Peery.<br />

<strong>The</strong> firm’s top-quality real estate clients have<br />

been involved in a number <strong>of</strong> major<br />

developments in San Antonio. <strong>The</strong>se clients see<br />

DC&MDavis, Cedillo and Medoza as trusted<br />

advisors with a deep understanding <strong>of</strong> business<br />

issues. <strong>The</strong> firm’s insurance defense practice is<br />

thriving as well, handling complex cases for<br />

some <strong>of</strong> the top names in the industry.<br />

DC&MDavis, Cedillo & Mendoza enjoys<br />

great success in commercial litigation. Because<br />

<strong>of</strong> the way its commercial litigation teams are<br />

organized, with lead counsel supported by a<br />

detail-driven team <strong>of</strong> lawyers and staff,<br />

DC&MDavis, Cedillo & Mendoza can be<br />

devastatingly effective, yet far more economical<br />

8 2 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

than its national competition. Its successes for<br />

national and international clients have been<br />

high pr<strong>of</strong>ile. Most notable may be the $624-<br />

million verdict for Valores Corporativos, a<br />

Mexican wholesale grocer and distributor<br />

against Wal-Mart and a judgment on behalf <strong>of</strong><br />

HouseCanary, Inc. against Title Source, Inc. for<br />

$706 million.<br />

Thirty-Two years after its founding, Davis,<br />

Cedillo & Mendoza, Inc. is still focused on its<br />

original goals. <strong>The</strong> firm’s diversity reflects the<br />

diversity <strong>of</strong> <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>, and its success is<br />

clearly the result <strong>of</strong> a formula that has worked<br />

very well.<br />

G<br />

Top: Brandon Strey, Courtney Gaines<br />

and Charles Cantu.<br />

Middle: Susan Holt, J. Russell Davis,<br />

Brandy Peery.<br />

Bottom: Derick Rodgers, Les Strieber<br />

and Brian Lewis.<br />

U n d e r w r i t e r s F 8 3


GOGGAN<br />

BLAIR &<br />


Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP is<br />

the largest national law firm that focuses on<br />

collection <strong>of</strong> government receivables. <strong>The</strong> firm’s<br />

goal is total client satisfaction, which is achieved<br />

by tailoring comprehensive services to the<br />

client’s criteria, retaining pr<strong>of</strong>essional and<br />

courteous legal and collection personnel,<br />

developing and supporting the most advanced<br />

collection technology systems available, and<br />

maintaining personal communication with its<br />

clients and the communities they serve.<br />

<strong>The</strong> firm’s history dates from 1976 when the<br />

State <strong>of</strong> Texas first allowed cities and school<br />

districts to hire private attorneys to collect taxes<br />

and other receivables. To provide these services,<br />

Chester Young, Larry Calame and Dale Linebarger<br />

established the law firm Young Calame &<br />

Linebarger as a limited liability partnership.<br />

Also instrumental in establishment <strong>of</strong> the<br />

firm was Oliver S. Heard, who was a founder<br />

and managing partner. An established leader in<br />

advancing the legal pr<strong>of</strong>ession, Heard brought<br />

more than 20 years experience to the new firm.<br />

He was known as the ‘King <strong>of</strong> Tax Collections in<br />

Texas’ and was named one <strong>of</strong> the 20th century’s<br />

top 102 lawyers in a special publication entitled<br />

Legal Legends: A Century <strong>of</strong> Texas Law and<br />

Lawyers. Heard died in 2000.<br />

<strong>The</strong> firm’s San Antonio roots date from 1980<br />

and the firm <strong>of</strong> Heard Goggan and Blair. <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> hired the firm in that year, becoming the<br />

first large metropolitan authority in Texas to hire<br />

an outside law firm to collect delinquent ad<br />

valorem taxes. That partnership between the<br />

firm and <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> has culminated in one <strong>of</strong><br />

the nation’s best tax collection programs for a<br />

metropolitan community. <strong>The</strong> delinquent tax<br />

collection program developed in <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> is<br />

now used by more than 1,700 entities across<br />

Texas, including Dallas <strong>County</strong>, Harris <strong>County</strong>,<br />

and Tarrant <strong>County</strong>.<br />

A Fees and Fines Collection program was also<br />

begun in <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> in 2006. This collection<br />

program became the basis <strong>of</strong> a national model<br />

and clients now include the cities <strong>of</strong> Chicago,<br />

Houston, Philadelphia, Austin, Columbus, and<br />

Fort Worth.<br />

In 2002, the firm changed its name to<br />

Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP.<br />

Several founding partners retired in 2006 and<br />

a new Management Committee, composed <strong>of</strong><br />

21 capital partners, assumed leadership.<br />

DeMetris Sampson served as the new MC’s<br />

first chair and Clif Douglass <strong>of</strong> San Antonio<br />

assumed the role in 2007, a position he<br />

continues to hold.<br />

8 4 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson<br />

maintains 46 law <strong>of</strong>fices, eight call centers, and<br />

one information technology center located<br />

throughout the nation. <strong>The</strong> firm is headquartered<br />

in Austin.<br />

From the day the partnership with <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> was established in 1980, the San Antonio<br />

operations—with a combined 292 employees—<br />

has become a centralized component <strong>of</strong> the firm,<br />

supporting growth and expansion throughout the<br />

United States. Today, in addition to the 62<br />

employees in its downtown San Antonio <strong>of</strong>fice,<br />

Linebarger employs more than 160 pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

staff locally at its national informational<br />

technology operation. San Antonio is also home<br />

to a national call center employing more than 70<br />

individuals. <strong>The</strong>se two major <strong>of</strong>fices, along with a<br />

downtown collection operations <strong>of</strong>fice, provide a<br />

growing and reliable source <strong>of</strong> revenue for <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>, the City <strong>of</strong> San Antonio, and all the local<br />

school districts.<br />

Last year, Linebarger managed more than $10<br />

billion in delinquent government receivables<br />

and generated approximately $1 billion in<br />

revenue for state and local governments. <strong>The</strong><br />

firm serves more than 2,500 government entities<br />

in 26 states and has the ability to recover<br />

receivables from delinquent account holders in<br />

every state in the nation. <strong>The</strong> firm is licensed<br />

and/or authorized to collect in all 50 states,<br />

Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.<br />

Linebarger’s success has garnered numerous<br />

important awards and citations over the<br />

decades. U.S. Conference <strong>of</strong> Mayors (USCM)<br />

awarded the firm its highest Public Private<br />

Partnership award—the Award for Excellence—<br />

in 2001 for its work with the City <strong>of</strong> Dallas. <strong>The</strong><br />

firm received its second Public-Private<br />

Partnership Award from USCM in 2004, this<br />

time for work with the City <strong>of</strong> Chicago.<br />

Linebarger received its fourth, and recordbreaking,<br />

Public Private Partnership Award for<br />

Outstanding Achievement in 2010 for its work<br />

with the City <strong>of</strong> Port Arthur.<br />

<strong>The</strong> 2018 National Law Journals Women in<br />

Law Scorecard ranked Linebarger number one<br />

in Texas and 15th nationally among the largest<br />

U.S. law firms with the highest percentage <strong>of</strong><br />

women lawyers and partners.<br />

Linebarger and its employees support<br />

hundreds <strong>of</strong> charitable, community and cultural<br />

organizations throughout <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>. Some<br />

<strong>of</strong> the organizations supported over the last five<br />

years include the <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> BiblioTech<br />

Digital Library; <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Child Welfare<br />

Board; <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> Family Justice Center<br />

Foundation; Hidalgo Foundation; San Antonio<br />

Youth Literacy; Tobin Center; United Way <strong>of</strong><br />

San Antonio; as well as the educational<br />

foundations for all <strong>of</strong> the local school districts.<br />

Nationwide, Linebarger employs more than<br />

1,250 pr<strong>of</strong>essionals, including more than 100<br />

attorneys, 300 collectors, and 160 IT staff. <strong>The</strong><br />

firm continues to expand and grow steadily into<br />

areas where clients require its services.<br />

U n d e r w r i t e r s F 8 5


OF SERNA<br />

& SERNA<br />

Growing up in San Antonio, both Baltazar<br />

and Cesar Serna knew from an early age that<br />

they wanted to become lawyers. <strong>The</strong> brothers<br />

have now worked side-by-side for 27 years and<br />

their law firm has become one <strong>of</strong> the busiest and<br />

most respected in <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

<strong>The</strong> brothers graduated from Thomas Edison<br />

High School in San Antonio and, encouraged by<br />

their parents, decided to enter the law pr<strong>of</strong>ession.<br />

“Our father worked at the Kelly Air Force Base<br />

but had always wanted to be a lawyer,” Baltazar<br />

explains. “He and our mother always encouraged<br />

our interest in law and were very supportive <strong>of</strong><br />

our ambitions.”<br />

Baltazar Serna received a Bachelor <strong>of</strong> Arts in<br />

Public Justice degree from St. Mary’s University in<br />

1984 and went on to earn his law degree at the<br />

Thurgood Marshall School <strong>of</strong> Law in Houston. A<br />

practicing attorney for 35 years, Baltazar specializes<br />

in Civil and Criminal litigation, and representation<br />

for municipalities and governmental bodies, which<br />

includes a public affairs practice at the local, state<br />

and federal levels.<br />

Cesar Serna received his B.A. in Criminal<br />

Justice from the University <strong>of</strong> Texas at San Antonio<br />

and his law degree from the Thurgood Marshall<br />

School <strong>of</strong> Law. Cesar specializes in civil and<br />

criminal law and also handles family law matters.<br />

<strong>The</strong> firm <strong>of</strong> Serna & Serna believes in<br />

focusing on a few specific areas <strong>of</strong> the law, and<br />

concentrates on providing outstanding legal<br />

advice for each client. <strong>The</strong> practice focuses on<br />

representing clients in legal matters related to<br />

personal injury, criminal charges, divorces and<br />

municipal law issues.<br />

“We’re not a big firm on purpose,” says<br />

Baltazar. “When a client hires us, they get us.<br />

We don’t turn matters over to some assistant<br />

who does all the work.”<br />

Serna & Serna has the experience to help<br />

clients sort out their particular legal issues related<br />

to anything from criminal cases to government<br />

contracts. <strong>The</strong> firm handles all forms <strong>of</strong> personal<br />

injury matters, including car and truck accidents,<br />

premises liability and wrongful death. Baltazar<br />

and Cesar Serna understand what their clients are<br />

facing during these difficult times, including the<br />

overwhelming medical bills, time lost at work,<br />

and other financial impacts that make such<br />

accidents more devastating. <strong>The</strong>y do everything<br />

within their power to right these wrongs and help<br />

their clients make the fullest recovery possible.<br />

Since its formation in 1992, Serna & Serna<br />

has defended people throughout South Texas<br />

against a host <strong>of</strong> different criminal charges,<br />

including domestic violence, DWI and repeat<br />

8 6 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

DWI, theft, white collar crime, traffic violations,<br />

probation revocation, and assault and battery.<br />

<strong>The</strong> firm also <strong>of</strong>fers warrant information and<br />

bail bond assistance, expungement and motions<br />

for nondisclosure.<br />

In the area <strong>of</strong> municipal law, Serna & Serna<br />

represents businesses, developers and investors<br />

in legal disputes and matters before city and<br />

county government bodies. Serna & Serna has<br />

represented some <strong>of</strong> the biggest and most<br />

noteworthy companies in South Texas. <strong>The</strong> firm’s<br />

long list <strong>of</strong> clients includes the San Antonio Spurs<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>essional basketball team, Landry’s, <strong>Bexar</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Government, City <strong>of</strong> San Antonio, City<br />

Public Service, Brooks Development Authority,<br />

San Antonio Port Authority and the San Antonio<br />

Water System. He represents entities at the local,<br />

state and federal level before the government. For<br />

example, Baltazar was instrumental in helping<br />

the City <strong>of</strong> San Antonio secure funding from the<br />

federal government for the new federal<br />

courthouse now being built.<br />

Both Baltazar and Cesar are deeply involved in<br />

non-pr<strong>of</strong>it organizations such as Rey Feo Consejo,<br />

which helps raise money for high school seniors,<br />

and the Fiesta Commission. Baltazar is presidentelect<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Fiesta Commission.<br />

Baltazar and his wife, Deborah, have two<br />

children and Cesar and his wife, Jessica, have<br />

one son.<br />

Cesar is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys<br />

hiking and biking in Texas and Colorado. Baltazar<br />

enjoys physical fitness, playing basketball,<br />

attending sports events and spending time with<br />

his family.<br />

When dealing with complex legal issues, it<br />

is imperative that you hire a team <strong>of</strong> attorneys<br />

that has the experience and knowledge to<br />

represent you in any number <strong>of</strong> legal disputes.<br />

Serna & Serna has handled countless cases for a<br />

variety <strong>of</strong> different clients throughout South<br />

Texas. To learn more, check their website at<br />

www.sernaserna.com. Serna & Serna is located at<br />

237 W. Travis Street, Ste 100.<br />

U n d e r w r i t e r s F 8 7

G<br />



Above: Pablo Escamilla.<br />

Right: Douglas Poneck.<br />

Inspired by 1960s activism to improve the<br />

plight <strong>of</strong> Hispanic students in Edgewood<br />

Independent School District, then the poorest<br />

school district in Texas, Pablo Escamilla delayed<br />

his dream <strong>of</strong> attending law school and, instead,<br />

ran—and was elected—for the Edgewood<br />

School Board. Pablo’s service on the board lasted<br />

a decade and during that time Pablo and the<br />

school district led the fight for Texas school<br />

finance reform. This resulted in Edgewood v.<br />

Kirby, the landmark Texas Supreme Court<br />

litigation that attempted to remedy the historic<br />

inequity <strong>of</strong> school funding across the state.<br />

Belatedly, Pablo realized his dream <strong>of</strong><br />

attending law school and becoming a lawyer.<br />

After a four-year stint with the school law firm<br />

<strong>of</strong> Schulman, Walheim, Beck and Heidelberg,<br />

Pablo organized his own law firm.<br />

About this same time, Douglas Poneck had<br />

graduated from college and law school in quick<br />

succession and became a first-year associate<br />

with a venerable and long-established San<br />

Antonio law firm. <strong>The</strong> economic recession <strong>of</strong> the<br />

early 1990s led to a downsizing <strong>of</strong> the law firm<br />

and Doug found himself in dire need <strong>of</strong> a job.<br />

With little experience, but a lot <strong>of</strong> hunger, Doug<br />

met with Pablo at a friend’s suggestion to see if<br />

he might be hiring for his new firm. <strong>The</strong> two<br />

men hit it <strong>of</strong>f immediately.<br />

Pablo and Doug found they had a lot in<br />

common. <strong>The</strong>y had similar backgrounds and<br />

their fathers worked as civil servants at Kelly Air<br />

Force Base. <strong>The</strong>y also shared a strong belief that<br />

serving others was an important part <strong>of</strong> being a<br />

lawyer. Both also saw that the San Antonio legal<br />

community was not very diverse, though the<br />

boards <strong>of</strong> governmental entities serving them<br />

were becoming more so. As a philosophical and<br />

business matter, both understood that the San<br />

Antonio legal community was sorely in need <strong>of</strong><br />

minority-owned law firms that represented<br />

these more diverse and progressive<br />

governmental entities.<br />

Although they shared a passion for<br />

representing their community, Pablo was in no<br />

position to hire anyone, having just ventured<br />

out on his own, so Doug started his own <strong>of</strong>fice<br />

and took on indigent defendant/criminal court<br />

appointments for $100 per assignment. It wasn’t<br />

glamourous work, but it paid the bills. Pablo<br />

was able to refer some cases to Doug, and<br />

impressed at how well he accomplished his<br />

work, Pablo suggested that Doug could save<br />

some money on rent if he moved into his <strong>of</strong>fices.<br />

<strong>The</strong> relationship grew, and the two lawyers<br />

became partners in November, 1991.<br />

To be sure, Pablo Escamilla and Douglas<br />

Poneck founded Escamilla & Poneck, LLP on<br />

8 8 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

their belief that government clients should<br />

have excellent legal representation if they are<br />

to be effective in fulfilling their mission and<br />

serve the public good. Further, the firm’s<br />

lawyers do not simply represent its<br />

governmental clients as a business proposition.<br />

Instead, they work to represent such clients<br />

because if fulfills serving the communities that<br />

have entrusted them.<br />

Since it’s founding, Escamilla & Poneck, LLP<br />

has become a dynamic, full-service, 100%<br />

minority-owned law firm with <strong>of</strong>fices in San<br />

Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston,<br />

and Monroe, Louisiana.<br />

Escamilla & Poneck has grown and<br />

diversified in an effort to support various clients<br />

across Texas and Louisiana with responsive inperson<br />

services. It provides a variety <strong>of</strong> legal<br />

services, including a number <strong>of</strong> general counsel<br />

services (i.e. services related to the particular<br />

subject areas <strong>of</strong> the governments represented),<br />

litigation, bond counsel and government<br />

relations before the Texas legislature.<br />

Escamilla & Poneck primarily represents<br />

governmental entities throughout Texas. In<br />

particular, the firm is very experienced in<br />

working with school boards, but also represent<br />

other kinds <strong>of</strong> boards, including boards <strong>of</strong><br />

housing authorities, workforce development<br />

entities, urban renewal agencies, utilities, cities,<br />

counties, special-purpose districts and various<br />

related non-pr<strong>of</strong>its.<br />

In short, the firm’s greatest strengths are its<br />

breadth and diversity <strong>of</strong> experience in<br />

representing governmental entities along a<br />

broad spectrum, with an emphasis on legal<br />

services needed to serve those entities. <strong>The</strong><br />

firm has also established a highly collaborative<br />

working environment in which attorneys and<br />

staff all participate to provide clients highly<br />

responsive and effective legal service. In the<br />

end, the lawyers <strong>of</strong> Escamilla & Poneck feel<br />

that governmental entities ultimately serve<br />

the law and the public, their actions should<br />

be transparent and accountable, from top<br />

to bottom.<br />

Escamilla & Poneck has been a leader in<br />

promoting diversity within the Texas legal<br />

community. When Pablo and Doug established<br />

the firm nearly 30 years ago, there were very few<br />

minority owned firms that served governmental<br />

entities. Since then, many <strong>of</strong> the firms that<br />

provide similar services have added diversity<br />

to their teams <strong>of</strong> lawyers, and some firms<br />

have even shared ownership with minority<br />

lawyers. <strong>The</strong> firm may not be as unique in the<br />

industry as it was, but the partners feel that’s a<br />

good thing.<br />

U n d e r w r i t e r s F 8 9

WATTS<br />


G<br />

Left: Mikal C. Watts.<br />

Right: Francisco Guerra, IV.<br />

Watts Guerra LLP, headquartered in San<br />

Antonio, is a true nationwide litigation practice.<br />

<strong>The</strong> firm’s trial lawyers handle some <strong>of</strong> the<br />

largest cases nationwide for catastrophic injury<br />

and death, product liability, commercial<br />

litigation, and mass torts.<br />

Watts Guerra attorneys have taken on and<br />

defeated many <strong>of</strong> the largest and most powerful<br />

corporations in America, yielding substantial<br />

verdicts and settlements and, more importantly,<br />

greater consumer safety for everyone. Watts<br />

Guerra’s record prompted the National Law<br />

Journal to comment, “Watts has established a<br />

record as one <strong>of</strong> the most effective plaintiffs trail<br />

lawyers in the United States.”<br />

Among the many successful cases litigated<br />

was the first trail in the nation challenging the<br />

safety <strong>of</strong> the drug Levaquin, used to treat a<br />

variety <strong>of</strong> bacterial infections. <strong>The</strong> hotly<br />

contested trial included some <strong>of</strong> the finest<br />

defense lawyers in the nation and both sides<br />

put forth extensive evidence, studies and<br />

expert testimony to prove their cases. <strong>The</strong><br />

defense fought hard until closing arguments to<br />

persuade the jury that Levaquin was a safe drug.<br />

Thanks to the efforts <strong>of</strong> Mikal Watts and others<br />

involved in the trial, the defense arguments fell<br />

on deaf ears. <strong>The</strong> jury deliberated for less<br />

than two days before awarding $7 million in<br />

actual damages to the plaintiff who had been<br />

injured as a result <strong>of</strong> his use <strong>of</strong> Levaquin. <strong>The</strong><br />

jury deliberated only a couple more hours<br />

before awarding the injured plaintiff an<br />

additional $1.1 million in punitive damages.<br />

Watts Guerra trial lawyers led the nation in<br />

representing people maimed or killed by<br />

defective Firestone tires and unstable Ford<br />

Explorers. <strong>The</strong> firm also represented a<br />

pharmaceutical victim whose liver was<br />

destroyed by the diabetes drug Rezulin and won<br />

an award for three clients from Sulzer Medica by<br />

proving that defective hip implants led to<br />

painful extraction and revision surgeries.<br />

Results such as this are common for clients <strong>of</strong><br />

Watts Guerra, which employs a team <strong>of</strong><br />

seasoned attorneys across cities in Texas and<br />

California. With a main <strong>of</strong>fice in the Dominion<br />

in San Antonio and a mass tort <strong>of</strong>fice near<br />

the city’s medical center, Watts Guerra<br />

boasts one <strong>of</strong> the larger, more experienced<br />

plaintiff-side lawyer rosters in the country,<br />

with some <strong>of</strong> the best trial lawyers in their<br />

respective areas <strong>of</strong> practice. <strong>The</strong> firm also<br />

maintains <strong>of</strong>fices in Austin, Brownsville,<br />

Corpus Christi, and Odessa, Texas, and Santa<br />

Rosa and Chico, California to provide premier<br />

legal representation.<br />

<strong>The</strong> lawyers <strong>of</strong> Watts Guerra have a proven<br />

track record <strong>of</strong> serious, high-value results<br />

and believe in their ability to win each<br />

case. Because <strong>of</strong> this, the firm accepts all <strong>of</strong><br />

its cases on a contingency fee basis—clients do<br />

not owe anything unless the firm recovers on<br />

their behalf.<br />

9 0 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

<strong>The</strong> firm is headed by Mikal C. Watts and<br />

Francisco “Frank” Guerra, IV.<br />

A native <strong>of</strong> Corpus Christi, Watts earned his<br />

undergraduate degree from the University <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas in 1987, receiving a bachelor <strong>of</strong> arts<br />

with high honors after only two years <strong>of</strong> study.<br />

He then graduated with honors from the<br />

University <strong>of</strong> Texas School <strong>of</strong> Law at the age <strong>of</strong><br />

twenty-one. After working as a briefing<br />

attorney for the Chief Justice <strong>of</strong> the Supreme<br />

Court <strong>of</strong> Texas, Watts became a partner in a<br />

Corpus Christi law firm before establishing his<br />

own firm in 1997.<br />

In 2002, Watts joined forces with Frank<br />

Guerra to form Watts Guerra LLP to handle<br />

catastrophic personal injury, toxic torts, product<br />

liability, automotive defects, refinery negligence,<br />

commercial trucking negligence, medical device,<br />

pharmaceutical and commercial litigation.<br />

Guerra, who serves as managing partner in<br />

the San Antonio <strong>of</strong>fice, received his bachelor<br />

<strong>of</strong> ats from Texas A&M University, where he<br />

served as commander <strong>of</strong> Squadron 15 and was the<br />

first Hispanic commander <strong>of</strong> the elite<br />

Ross Volunteer Company. He then<br />

attended the University <strong>of</strong> Texas School <strong>of</strong><br />

Law, where he received his doctor <strong>of</strong><br />

jurisprudence. During law school, Guerra<br />

served as Intern to Justice John Cornyn <strong>of</strong><br />

the Supreme Court <strong>of</strong> Texas. He also<br />

served as an Intern to the late pr<strong>of</strong>essor<br />

Charles Alan Wright, considered the<br />

foremost authority in the U.S. on<br />

Constitutional law and federal procedure.<br />

Guerra has served on the Malpractice,<br />

Premises & Products Pattern Jury<br />

Charge Committee for the State Bar <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas. Since joining Watts, he has<br />

litigated, tried and arbitrated cases<br />

throughout the nation.<br />

Watts Guerra is composed <strong>of</strong> a team <strong>of</strong><br />

skilled attorneys with a devotion to personal<br />

attention and a commitment to achieving the<br />

highest levels <strong>of</strong> service. <strong>The</strong> firm has strength<br />

in numbers and in talent and the results speak<br />

for themselves. Watts Guerra’s resources are<br />

larger than most firms, enabling them to invest<br />

tens <strong>of</strong> millions <strong>of</strong> dollars at once to battle the<br />

largest corporations in the world. Watts works<br />

for its clients, employing the best experts and<br />

using the most up-to-date technology available.<br />

<strong>The</strong> firm even employs full-time pilots to fly<br />

private planes on a moment’s notice, enabling its<br />

lawyers to meet quickly with clients and travel<br />

easily to depositions, mediations and trials<br />

across the country.<br />

<strong>The</strong> lawyers <strong>of</strong> Watts Guerra LLP have beaten<br />

the largest and most powerful corporations in<br />

America, yielding substantial verdicts and<br />

settlements and more importantly, greater<br />

consumer safety for everyone.<br />

For more information, consult the firm’s<br />

website at wattsguerra.com.<br />

U n d e r w r i t e r s F 9 1

GUNN, LEE &<br />

CAVE, P.C.<br />

G<br />

Left: Ted Lee.<br />

Right: John C. Cave.<br />

<strong>The</strong> law firm <strong>of</strong> Gunn, Lee & Cave has deep<br />

ties to San Antonio and is focused on protecting<br />

proprietary thinking, inventions, works and trade<br />

secrets. Reflecting the company motto, “Your<br />

Ideas Are Our Specialty,” each attorney is an<br />

expert in both acquiring and litigating intellectual<br />

property, including post grant proceedings.<br />

Ted Lee, a graduate <strong>of</strong> Notre Dame Law<br />

School, began his career as a patent agent for the<br />

National Aeronautics and Space Administration,<br />

working on the Saturn Apollo program. Some <strong>of</strong><br />

the early patent applications prosecuted by Lee<br />

were used in putting a man on the moon.<br />

Before moving to San Antonio in 1973 and<br />

establishing a private practice, Lee served as a<br />

JAG <strong>of</strong>ficer in the U.S. Marine Corps.<br />

On April 1, 1977 Ted Lee and Don Gunn<br />

established the firm <strong>of</strong> Gunn & Lee. Lee headed<br />

the <strong>of</strong>fice in San Antonio and Gunn was in<br />

charge <strong>of</strong> an <strong>of</strong>fice in Houston. <strong>The</strong> firm, which<br />

has always specialized in intellectual property,<br />

grew rapidly and soon employed about 12<br />

attorneys in each <strong>of</strong>fice.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Houston <strong>of</strong>fice closed after Gunn passed<br />

away in 1999. John Cave joined the firm in 2000.<br />

John Cave, a San Antonio native, received a<br />

B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Texas<br />

A&M University and his law degree from Texas<br />

Tech University. During his engineering career,<br />

Cave assisted in the development <strong>of</strong> a computer<br />

program to calculate stresses in various<br />

components <strong>of</strong> an aircraft and was involved in<br />

the design <strong>of</strong> pumps and gas compressors for<br />

various applications in the oil fields. This<br />

background gave Cave a deep understanding <strong>of</strong><br />

the importance <strong>of</strong> intellectual property.<br />

<strong>The</strong> firm’s reputation got a big boost in the<br />

early 1980s when it was involved in an<br />

intellectual property theft case that attracted<br />

national attention. It began when two<br />

employees <strong>of</strong> the Pace Picante Sauce company<br />

left and set up a competing company, allegedly<br />

using a picante sauce recipe identical to that<br />

used in the Pace product. Pace sued the<br />

employees for theft <strong>of</strong> the secret formula for<br />

Pace Picante Sauce. Although all picante sauce<br />

uses the same six basic ingredients, Pace argued<br />

that the way the ingredients were measured and<br />

mixed made their product unique and the<br />

recipe could not be copied.<br />

“We had been trying the case two or three days<br />

and had jars and jars <strong>of</strong> various picante sauces<br />

lined up in front <strong>of</strong> the jury when a newspaper<br />

reporter happened by the courtroom,” explains<br />

Lee. <strong>The</strong> reporter asked what was going on and<br />

after I told him, the front page <strong>of</strong> next day’s<br />

edition <strong>of</strong> the Express-News carried the headline,<br />

“Hot Sauce Case Heats Up.” Other papers picked<br />

up the story and for several days the picante<br />

sauce trial was on everybody’s lips. Lee recalls<br />

that a sensational murder trial was going on at the<br />

same time, but reporters were leaving the murder<br />

trial to cover the picante sauce war. “When a<br />

juror got sick and missed a day, one <strong>of</strong> the papers<br />

9 2 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

headlined, ‘Juror Can’t Stomach Hot Sauce<br />

Case’,” Lee recalls.<br />

<strong>The</strong> two disgruntled employees were found not<br />

to have used the secret Pace recipe. <strong>The</strong> verdict<br />

made news all across the nation. “It’s the best<br />

publicity we could ever have gotten,” says Lee.<br />

As an intellectual property law firm, Gunn,<br />

Lee & Cave is involved with patents,<br />

trademarks, copyrights, contracts, and trade<br />

secrets. Each <strong>of</strong> the firm’s attorneys is<br />

experienced in both acquiring and litigating<br />

intellectual property, including post grant<br />

proceedings. Lee points out that it is unusual for<br />

an intellectual property law firm to both<br />

prosecute and litigate cases.<br />

Gunn, Lee & Cave currently has a staff <strong>of</strong> 16,<br />

including 8 attorneys. In addition to Lee and Cave,<br />

the attorneys include Mike Villarreal, Rob McRae,<br />

Ed Marvin, Jason McKinnie, Nick Guinn, and<br />

Brandon Cook. <strong>The</strong> firm is located in the Callaghan<br />

Tower at 8023 Vantage Drive in San Antonio.<br />

In addition to supporting numerous civic and<br />

charitable causes, Ted Lee is the creator <strong>of</strong> the skit<br />

presenting Santa Claus on trial in Federal District<br />

Court each Christmas. <strong>The</strong> trial is based loosely on<br />

the popular holiday movie, Miracle on 34th Street.<br />

“We started the tradition over twenty-five years ago.<br />

This year my four-year-old grandson will testify for<br />

Santa.” Lee explains. “Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts<br />

make up the prosecution team, attempting to prove<br />

that Santa Claus violated a fictitious state statute by<br />

appearing at a public school handing out gifts.<br />

Fourth and fifth-grade elementary school children<br />

make up the jury. An authentic Federal Judge<br />

usually presides over the proceedings.”<br />

Lee reports that Santa usually wins the case but,<br />

several years ago, Santa was convicted. <strong>The</strong> judge<br />

delivered a Solomon-like decision, ruling that Santa<br />

be placed on probation—until after Christmas.<br />

While <strong>Bexar</strong> <strong>County</strong> and San Antonio continue<br />

to change, Gunn, Lee & Cave remains a<br />

consistent, reliable source to protect its clients’<br />

creative endeavors. Ted Lee feels the main reason<br />

Gunn, Lee & Cave has been so successful for<br />

more than forty years is the result <strong>of</strong> “doing good<br />

work for clients and the clients being happy with<br />

our work.” Lee says the firm’s business comes<br />

from two sources: satisfied customers and<br />

referrals from other law firms familiar with Gunn,<br />

Lee & Cave’s reputation.<br />

G<br />

Above: (From left to right) Jason<br />

McKinnie, Ed Marvin, and Rob<br />

McRae.<br />

Below: (From left to right) Mike<br />

Villareal, Brandon Cook, and<br />

Nick Guinn.<br />

U n d e r w r i t e r s F 9 3

THOMAS J.<br />


Thomas J. Henry Law, PLLC is one <strong>of</strong> the<br />

nation's leading personal injury firms and is the<br />

largest plaintiff's firm in Texas, employing a<br />

team <strong>of</strong> more than 150 attorneys and 350<br />

support staff in <strong>of</strong>fices across Texas. In 2019 and<br />

2020, the firm was named one <strong>of</strong> the nation's<br />

“Best Places to Work” by Glassdoor. This award<br />

is based solely on employee feedback and takes<br />

into account employee satisfaction, career<br />

opportunities, culture and values, and work to<br />

life balance.<br />

For more than 25 years, Thomas J. Henry<br />

Law, PLLC has provided fierce and steadfast<br />

legal representation to injured clients. Over<br />

that time, the firm has built a reputation for<br />

success in a variety <strong>of</strong> legal disciplines,<br />

including trucking accidents, company vehicle<br />

accidents, workplace injury, mass tort<br />

litigation, product liability, pharmaceutical<br />

litigation, child injury, and wrongful death.<br />

Thomas J. Henry Law, PLLC has litigated<br />

against some <strong>of</strong> the largest companies in the<br />

world, including Fortune 500 and Fortune 100<br />

companies, and has achieved numerous<br />

record-breaking awards and settlements.<br />

In 2012, the firm secured the #1 Back Injury<br />

Verdict in the Country, as named by the<br />

National Law Journal. <strong>The</strong> firm was then<br />

featured in the National Law Journal's Top 100<br />

Verdicts list in both 2012 and 2013. Also, in<br />

2013, the firm was recognized by Verdict Search<br />

as achieving the #1 Workplace Injury Verdict for<br />

the Year, and the firm's founder, Thomas J.<br />

Henry, was named one <strong>of</strong> the Top 100 Trial<br />

Lawyers by National Trial Lawyers.<br />

In 2015, the firm was awarded the<br />

prestigious Litigator Award for outstanding<br />

achievements in auto accident, personal injury,<br />

catastrophic injury, and negligent security<br />

litigation. <strong>The</strong> firm secured the #1 Texas Car<br />

Accident Verdict for the year, and Legal Leaders<br />

Magazine recognized firm founder Thomas J.<br />

Henry as one <strong>of</strong> Texas' Top Rated Lawyers. In<br />

2016, Forbes Magazine featured Thomas J.<br />

Henry as a “Leader in Law.”<br />

In 2017, TopVerdict.com recognized Thomas<br />

J. Henry Law, PLLC as achieving the #1 Texas<br />

Car Accident Verdict, #1 Texas Bus Accident<br />

Verdict, and #1 Texas Negligent Supervision<br />

Verdict for the year. <strong>The</strong> firm also achieved the<br />

#1 Worker/Workplace Negligence Verdict as<br />

listed by Texas Lawyer.<br />

In 2018, Lawyers <strong>of</strong> Distinction added<br />

Thomas J. Henry to their list <strong>of</strong> the nation's<br />

top lawyers.<br />

In both 2018 and 2019, Thomas J. Henry was<br />

named the “Best Attorney <strong>of</strong> San Antonio” by<br />

the San Antonio Current, based on public votes.<br />

In 2019, S.A. Scene Magazine named Thomas J.<br />

Henry one <strong>of</strong> San Antonio’s Top Personal Injury<br />

Lawyers. Also, in 2019, Thomas J. Henry was<br />

listed in a Bloomberg Businessweek “Clear<br />

Commitment to Client Satisfaction” Feature<br />

and made Newsweek.com’s Premier Law<br />

Firm’s listing.<br />

Thomas J. Henry has also been named a<br />

lifetime member <strong>of</strong> the Multi-Million Dollar<br />

Advocates Forum, a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the<br />

National Trial Lawyers, and a “Top Birth Injury<br />

Advocate” by Parenting Magazine. He is also a<br />

Lifetime Charter Member <strong>of</strong> Rue Ratings' Best<br />

Attorneys in America.<br />

9 4 F T H E H E A R T O F B E X A R C O U N T Y

In addition to representing injured victims,<br />

Thomas J. Henry is also dedicated to giving<br />

back to the local and global community. <strong>The</strong><br />

firm has an active philanthropy program which<br />

supports causes related to poverty, veterans,<br />

national disaster relief, education, animals, and<br />

the arts.<br />

<strong>The</strong> firm has provided support to numerous<br />

national causes, including the American Cancer<br />

Society, American <strong>Heart</strong> Association, American<br />

Red Cross, and Special Olympics and also<br />

commits significant support to local, San<br />

Antonio-based charities including the San<br />

Antonio Parks Foundation, the Rey Feo<br />

Scholarship Foundation, SA YES Foundation,<br />

St. Mary’s University Alumni Association<br />

Scholarship Program, San Antonio MLK<br />

Foundation, San Antonio River Walk<br />

Association, Elf Louise Christmas Project, San<br />

Antonio Pets Alive (SAPA), Animal Defense<br />

League <strong>of</strong> Texas, and more.<br />

Throughout the year, the firm sponsors<br />

numerous local little league programs<br />

throughout the San Antonio area and in 2019<br />

launched the viral “Clear the List” campaign to<br />

help San Antonio teachers get much needed<br />

supplies for their classrooms. Every October,<br />

the firm hosts "Bark in the Park," a community<br />

event that raises thousands <strong>of</strong> dollars for local<br />

pet charities. Each November, the Thomas J.<br />

Henry Turkey Giveaway provides Thanksgiving<br />

turkeys to thousands <strong>of</strong> families in Texas.<br />

Mr. Henry also consistently contributes to<br />

educational causes. Recently, he made a<br />

substantial donation toward the construction <strong>of</strong><br />

a multi-million-dollar tennis facility at Texas<br />

A&M University Corpus Christi. For years, his<br />

iPad giveaway program provided needy students<br />

with computers for school.<br />

In 2019, Thomas J. Henry put on a public<br />

concert for more than 10,000 people in Austin,<br />

Texas to raise money for SAFE Alliance,<br />

Superhero Kids and St. David's Foundation<br />

Community Fund.<br />

Thomas J. Henry also serves the nation’s<br />

brightest law students through the Thomas J.<br />

Henry Summer Associate Program—one <strong>of</strong> the<br />

most competitive and highest payed internships<br />

in the country. <strong>The</strong> program is dedicated to the<br />

mentoring and development <strong>of</strong> the next<br />

generation <strong>of</strong> legal leaders with past participants<br />

hailing from from the Top 10% <strong>of</strong> their<br />

respective laws schools, including Harvard<br />

School <strong>of</strong> Law, Columbia School <strong>of</strong> Law, and<br />

Northwestern Pritzker School <strong>of</strong> Law.<br />

Since 1993, Thomas J. Henry and his firm<br />

have helped tens <strong>of</strong> thousands <strong>of</strong> injured victims<br />

receive justice all the while giving back to the<br />

local community through his many local and<br />

global philanthropic endeavors.<br />

U n d e r w r i t e r s F 9 5

$34.95<br />

978-1-944891-70-1<br />

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Historical Publishing Network

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