Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017
Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Friday, August 7, 2015

Underwhelming - Tues., July 28, 2015

It's not often you'll hear me call a historic place underwhelming; but today's exploration of the Spanish Governor's Palace in San Antonio qualified for that adjective. In our three years of living in San Antonio we had never made a visit to the aforementioned attraction.

Bob took the afternoon off work. Our first stop was the nicer of the two buildings we saw today. For lunch, the Guenther House was our destination at the old Pioneer Flour Mill. We had the choice of eating outside on their covered, fan-cooled, misted patio or inside the cool basement of the house. The temperature outside was in the high 90s so we opted for inside.

The downstairs Guenther House restaurant is in the Art Nouveau style of the 1920s, characterized by the use of stained glass, symmetrical lines and an extensive plant motif. The house was constructed between 1915 and 1918.

I loved their lamps. Here is a description of these lamps from The Guenther House website:
"One of the Restaurant’s most unique features is the light fixtures cast of solid copper. Chinese dragons with lily pads and lotus blossoms form the sconces and reflect motifs Erhard encountered on his trip through China. The bowls of these fixtures are alabaster."
Lamps are from China. I don't know the
significance of the geese from which the
lamp chains hang.
Close-up of "dragon" on the lamp
Wall lamp - same type of dragon
with lotus blossom
Inside seating at The Guenther House
The stained glass window greenery is of philodendrons (they call it ivy) which complements the philodendron they have hanging in the restaurant.

Stained glass windows
The Guenther House is known for their baked goods. (It is a flour mill, after all.) C.H. Guenther, from Weissenfels, Saxony came to the U.S. in 1848 and traveled for three years to find a place to build a mill. He originally settled in Fredericksburg, Texas, because of the lack of facilities to mill grains grown in the area. His business flourished.

In 1859, he moved one mile south of San Antonio, Texas, and built a mill on the San Antonio River. In 1898 the milling business was incorporated under the name C. H. Guenther and Son, Inc., using the trade name Pioneer Flour Mills.

San Antonio River at Guenther House
Anyway, our lunches were wonderful. I had their special - Champagne Chicken Enchiladas - described on their menu as follows: "Tender slices of chicken breast and Monterey Jack cheese wrapped in Pioneer’s White Wings flour tortillas. Baked in our special sauce made from San Antonio River Mill Champagne Chicken Gravy Mix garnished with jalapeƱos and cilantro. Served with Guenther’s green salad." Mmmm. Very tasty! Bob had chicken salad on a croissant, and a side of chicken enchilada soup. He enjoyed his lunch as well. Next time we go, I'm getting the strawberry Belgian waffle! My mouth watered every time one was served to someone else.

For dessert we ordered a tart cherry strudel and peach strudel to go. When I checked our "to go" dessert order, we had a peach and an apple strudel. I mentioned to the waiter that we ordered a cherry strudel, not apple. He went back to the bakery and the bakery manager came out personally with our revised order. She apologized and told us that instead of trying to take out the apple strudel and having it break up, she was giving us the cherry strudel too. So we ended up with three strudels to go. We enjoyed those later in the day.

After lunch we drove into downtown San Antonio to tour the Spanish Governor's Palace, which was not a palace and never had a "governor" live in it. Really? Sounds like false advertising to me.

Regular admission is $5 and seniors are $3. We paid and went in. The name of this National Historic Landmark, Presidio San Antonio de Bejar, is traditionally known as the Spanish Governor's Palace. From 1722 until early in the 1800s, this was the original office and residence for Spanish captains of the military garrison.

The Presidio was built because of the rivalry between Spain and France for dominance of the territory which is now a part of the southwestern United States. King Phillip V of Spain, to protect a claim against French encroachment, ordered the governor of Coahuila and Texas to build a mission and presidio at the headwaters of the San Antonio River and San Pedro Creek. Here are photos of our visit to the Spanish Governor's Palace.

Spanish Governor's Palace
Trying to wrest the sword from a Conquistador
(a gift from Spain in 1977)
Captain's office
Bob in living room
An old Spanish chest
Low ceilings
Chests of drawers, like the one below, usually contained secret compartments, and hidden spaces behind or under drawers. Wealthy patriarchs felt it was necessary to hide important or valuable possessions from visitors, servants and even family members.

Old Spanish chest
Original, old locking desk
Baron Von Trapp of Austria and his family visited here
when they were doing a concert in San Antonio.
Pretty stairwell
The kitchen
Cochina de carbon
Above photo: Early form of enclosed stove, called a portager or cochina de carbon, introduced into Europe in 1700. Charcoal in metal baskets under each hole in the top provided heat for the individual pots and pans placed on trivets, directly on the top, or suspended above it by chains. Ashes could be removed from compartments below that opened in the front. The temperature could be much more easily controlled in individual compartments than it could in an open fireplace.

Courtyard in back of the "palace"
My new hair color...just call me "Blondie."
Courtyard behind Spanish Governor's Palace
Mosaic pathways in courtyard garden
Another courtyard with fountain

Us at entry to Spanish Governor's Palace
Bob in front of door filled with symbolism
The door above is filled with symbolism: the three shells at the top symbolize la Nina, la Pinta and la Santa Maria as they cross the ocean. Each carving tells part of the story. The dragons depict dangers faced in crossing the ocean; the baby represents the new country, America. You can read more about it on Peter Mansbendel's website.

At the end of our visit to the Spanish Governor's Palace, we walked around the corner and into Marti's, a unique boutique full of jewelry, clothing, clay pots, and other other fun stuff. From Marti's, we headed back to the fifth wheel for dinner and strudel.

Thanks, Bob, for taking time off work to go touring around San Antonio. Let's do it again next week! There's still so much to discover in San Antonio, even if it's not super duper exciting.


  1. I thought we visited the Spanish Governor's Palace, but I don't recall one of your photos so guess we didn't.

    Boy they use the word Palace loosely. It is a pretty cool place but far from what I would call a Palace. I do remember visiting some missions in the area that had the same low clearance for the door way. I love the idea of hidden spaces in the chest.

    You look very nice as a "Blondie", Susan.

    1. Thanks for reading. The Spanish Governor's Palace has some interesting things in it, but taken as a whole it wasn't very big or memorable.


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