The Steves Homestead, the home of San Antonio lumberman Edward Steves, symbolized the success of a German immigrant in frontier Texas. The house on King William Street was completed in 1877 for $15,000 and described as a "magnificent structure . . . which could not be duplicated for $25,000." The city's leading lumberman chose limestone quarried "at the head of the river" for his building material. Architectural plans for the homestead are most frequently attributed to Alfred Giles, then in the employ of John H. Kampmann, a close friend of Steves. Just who actually drew the plans is conjectural. Newspaper accounts focused on mason Anthony Earhart, praised then and in recent years for his excellent workmanship-he called it "peck work"-on this hard rock structure. Exterior stone walls on surfaces besides those in the front were later stuccoed. Twentieth-century observers generally describe the house as Victorian, but some see a strong Gothic influence in its L-shaped plan, in the quatrefoil motif of the decorative work in the spandrels of the arches, and in its interior arrangements. French influence is apparent in its mansard roof. The round-picket fence, which still borders the spacious grounds on two street sides, is constructed of cypress four feet in height and put together with pegs rather than nails. Plants on the property have varied, but none has provided such an attraction as the wild mustang grapevine did in 1913. An artesian well drilled in 1905 provided water for the garden and the natatorium built in 1913. A hallway bisects the two main floors of the homestead. A parlor, sitting room, dining room, conservatory, kitchen, and office are located on the first floor. Four bedrooms and servants' quarters are on the second floor, and the unfinished third floor provided space for billiards, cards, or dancing on festive occasions. Eventually, ownership of the Steves Homestead passed to a granddaughter, Edna, and her husband, Curtis T. Vaughan. The Vaughans made a gift of the property to the San Antonio Conservation Society in 1952. The Steves Homestead is located in the King William Historic District and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
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Mary C. H. Jutson, Alfred Giles: An English Architect in Texas and Mexico (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1972). Cecilia Steinfeldt, San Antonio Was (San Antonio Museum Association, 1978).
- Houses, Mansions, and Plantations
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Donald E. Everett, “Steves Homestead,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 15, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/steves-homestead.
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