NEW LISTING – 514 Madison St 78204 – $545,000

514 Madison St 78204

LISTING – 514 Madison St 78204 – King William Historic District

This two story Queen Anne home sits on a double lot just steps away from the River Walk in Historic King William. Double wrap around porches provide the perfect vantage point to watch the Fiesta King William Fair & Parade. The home features high ceilings, tall windows, beautiful hardwood floors, space for attic expansion, & a grand entry with elegant stairway. The family room overlooks the spacious yard shaded by mature trees. The detached two car garage off S. Alamo has a second story studio & full bath.



Front Porch Realty, LLC is now open for business

I’ve recently opened my own agency and today the new signs are out. Let me know your thoughts on the new (albeit temporary) design. I’m working with my Graphic Designer on a whole branding and design package. More to follow.

Front Porch Realty, LLC

Front Porch Realty, LLC


Another of my listings is featured in the Express-News

My client, CVF Homes, and I were recently featured in the Express-News for his most recent historic green renovation. He is currently working on two more renovations in Lavaca. Call me if you would like to see the work in progress.

Preserving historic integrity
Lavaca-area home goes green gently

By: Anna Ley for San Antonio Express-News

CVF Homes updated this Lavaca home without changing the outside to maintain its historical integrity.

On the outside, Kristal Cuevas’ future home is the picture of historical perfection, a pretty Craftsman-style cottage with bright red walls and thick, white molding.

But inside, the house has a modern, open floor plan packed with new energy-efficient features and state-of-the-art appliances.

The living room of this historically designated home was expanded by tearing down walls to create a more open floor plan. The original floors were insulated and walls were painted to brighten the interior, while the windows were left nearly untouched to maintain their original appearance.

Buiilder Juan Manuel Fernandez installed energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen to meet certification standards set by Build San Antonio Green.

Located in the Lavaca Historic District just south of downtown, the home is being remodeled by builder Juan Manuel Fernandez to be more environmentally friendly and energy efficient while retaining its historic charm. Fernandez, who initiated the renovation and specializes in so-called historic retrofits, is seeking “green” certification for the home through Build San Antonio Green, the city’s residential certification program.

Cuevas and her husband, Eddie, have the house under contract and expect to close on the 1,321-square-foot house by April 15.

Builders, real estate agents and green certification experts say projects like this produce a unique mix of old and new.

Because the home is located in a historic neighborhood and also is designated a historic building through the Texas Historical Commission (thanks to Fernandez’s efforts), its structural integrity must be preserved to meet certification guidelines. The process for remodeling it is more restrictive than it would be for a regular house, Fernandez said. The exterior of a historically designated home can’t be changed structurally. The interior trim and baseboards also have to remain in the home.

“The main issue is the outside because we have to be very cautious to preserve architectural features,” Fernandez said. “It would be very bad to change it because it’s part of its original charm.”

To save energy costs at the house, Fernandez insulated the home’s floors and walls and installed new Energy Star-qualified appliances. He also added low-flow toilets and other water-saving plumbing features in compliance with Build San Antonio Green’s retrofit certification program.

“It had no insulation before,” said Lina Luque, certification manager with Build San Antonio Green. “They didn’t have any (green features), pretty much.”

While he kept the home’s original hardwood floors and French doors — handles and all — the interior of the home was transformed to make it feel more spacious. He also added an extra bathroom.

The home's original French doors - including handles - were preserved.

Overall, the remodeling project cost Fernandez $100,000. Curtis Bowers, a real estate agent with King William Realty and president of the Lavaca Neighborhood Association, said historic renovations for deteriorated homes in the area typically range between $100,000 and $150,000.

“It depends on how much square footage there is in a home, and whether (builders) are buying stuff off the shelf at Home Depot or getting custom” features, Bowers said.

Fernandez is renovating three more homes in Lavaca and plans to complete those within the next six months. So far, he has taken on 10 historic remodels in that area.

Cuevas said one of her favorite features of the home is a brick column that previously was part of a fireplace. The builder tore down the actual fireplace and incorporated the brick column into the kitchen’s countertop, where it creates a division between rooms.

The brick column that was incorporated into the kitchen countertop.

“I love that blend of old and new,” Cuevas said. “I feel like we’ve found a diamond in the rough.”

Luque said she expects the builder likely will attain Level 2 certification through Build San Antonio Green — that means he will increase the home’s energy performance by 50 percent while adding several water conservation features, such as low-flow toilets, sink fixtures and shower heads.

Just two other historic homes in the city are being certified through Build San Antonio Green.

Often one of the most challenging aspects of improving a historic home’s energy efficiency is insulating windows without compromising their appearance, she said. Much of a home’s cool or warm air escapes through crevices around windows so replacing them is the easiest way to keep indoor temperatures steady.

In the case of historic homes, builders instead will seal windows as best as they can and sometimes add solar film, which is barely visible.

“The good thing about this technology is that it has developed so well you can’t even tell it’s there,” Luque said.

Cuevas and her husband decided to move to Lavaca in search for a livelier neighborhood and a house with more character. She also was tired of commuting from her “cookie-cutter house” in Helotes for work every day at her Southtown yoga studio and spending little time at home.

Lavaca is a vibrant area with a busy arts scene and lots of local eateries and drinking spots. Most homes there are Craftsman- or Victorian-style homes. It is served by the San Antonio Independent School District.

The area has seen an influx of young families in recent years who move there to renovate older properties, Bowers said.

The housing stock there is diverse, and it includes fixer-uppers that cost as low as $100,000 to fully renovated homes in the $500,000s.

“Anything purchased under or around $100,000 is purchased fairly quickly,” Bowers said. “There are always a lot of renovations going on.”

Great front porches are making a comeback

This article was submitted to the Express-News by Tenna Florian, AIA, LEED AP, an architect with Lake/Flato Architects. She gives a great architectural history of the porch and also speaks to its cultural connection in historic neighborhoods. I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

Building San Antonio: It’s time to enjoy your front porch, S.A.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

San Antonio’s historic neighborhoods are full of houses with great front porches. If you are lucky enough to live in one of these homes, now is the time of year to enjoy your porch. The mornings are relatively cool, the afternoons are breezy, and perhaps most importantly, the mosquitoes are not yet out in full force.

More than any other architectural element, the front porch is perceived as a uniquely American element; however, ‘American’ inherently means a product of the cultural melting pot that helped form the many architectural styles found in this country.

The early Colonial period of architecture was mostly devoid of porches, since the majority of the immigrants during this time hailed from Europe, where porches were not common. However, as colonialism in Africa, India, and the Caribbean brought more Europeans into contact with a variation of styles, the front porch became more prevalent.

Another strong influence in the evolution of the American porch was the ‘shotgun house’ (a small, one-room-wide home), built by African slaves in the South. The front porch found in these early homes may have been evidence of African architectural tradition, but easily could have been a response to climate, living conditions, and the desire to be connected to the outdoors and surrounding community.

Eventually, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the front porch came to represent cultural ideals of family, community, and nature. After dinner, families would retire to the front porch to cool off and socialize among themselves and with neighbors. An inherent sense of security was built in to this setting, as there were now more eyes on the street.

The sense of community that the porch represented declined in the mid-20th century, as more Americans owned their own automobiles and a more suburban way of living began to develop. As the prevalence of the air conditioned home increased, the need to either sit on the porch and cool off diminished. Entering the home through the front door became a rarity as the popularity of the attached garage, which served as a back door point of entry, increased. The garage replaced the porch as the primary architectural feature, in relation to the street, of the front of a home.

But the front porch is making a comeback. A great front porch is seen as an asset when buying a historic home. There are also several new developments with design standards that require a home to have a front porch.

Sadly, many times these porches are more symbolic than they are functional. In order to be functional as more than a front stoop, a front porch should be at least deep enough to hold a chair with passing room in front, and at least wide enough for a porch swing, so that a family can sit comfortably on the porch and commune with nature and neighbors.

Whether you live in a bungalow in Beacon Hill or Mahncke Park, a Victorian Stick Style house in King William (or Lavaca), or any number of historic homes in central San Antonio neighborhoods, now is the time to open up your house, let the breeze come through, and enjoy your front porch.

While you are out there, be sure to acknowledge your neighbors that are also out, enjoying the night air.

TIP: Keep that door from swinging shut

If you live in an older home you will sometime have the problem of doors slowly swinging shut. This can be caused by shifting foundations or out-of-square door opening.

This tip comes from the March 2011 edition of This Old House Magazine.

A door swings open or closed on its own. Pull out one of the hinge pins, lay it on a sturdy work surface, and hit the midpoint of the shaft with a hammer. Then reinsert the pin; the blow will have bent it slightly, providing enough resistance to prevent the unwanted movement.

Check out the updated Historic Downtown walking tour

My friends Elizabeth Porterfield and Shanon Wasielewski are mentioned in this article about the new walking tour. I’m going to have to check out the Conservation Society’s website and download the tour. You should do the same.

New brochure brings history to life

Self-guided tour of downtown has been updated.

By Scott Huddleston of the San Antonio Express News

If you’ve ever wondered where Santa Anna stayed during the Alamo siege or where Teddy Roosevelt outfitted his Rough Riders, you can find out in a newly updated brochure that tells some of the tales of downtown San Antonio.

The Texas Star Trail, created by the San Antonio Conservation Society for the state’s 1986 sesquicentennial, provides a self-guided 2.6-mile walking tour of downtown historic sites.

It includes lesser known jewels such as the O. Henry House, where the famed writer worked in the 1890s, and the Richter House, where barber-surgeon William Richter is said to have used leeches from a nearby irrigation ditch to treat patients.

Blood-sucking worms too weird for your taste? The brochure has been updated to include commentary by Elizabeth Porterfield, architectural historian with the city’s Office of Historic Preservation.

It shows 79 points of interest, identified by aluminum pavement markers, including 29 “must see” stops. The 12-inch circular discs depict the upper half of a Texas star over an outline of the Alamo. About 1,000 blue 3-inch markers line the trail, pointing pedestrians to the next stop.

Tuesday’s announcement of the updated brochure comes during National Preservation Month, as cities across the country celebrate their historic treasures, said Shanon Wasielewski, city historic preservation officer.

“We’re very fortunate that we have so many of them. We have treasures everywhere you look,” Wasielewski said.

The trail is designed to raise the local consciousness and promote exercise and cultural tourism, city officials said. Paula Stallcup, the city’s downtown operations director, said visitors often stare up at building features that locals don’t seem to notice.

“The walking tour is really to highlight that,” Stallcup said.

Since the trail has reached its 25th anniversary, now is the time to revive it, said Rollette Schreckenghost, president of the conservation society, which is trying to find funds to replace several missing markers.

The trail, funded by a $25,000 grant from the Meadows Foundation in 1986, no longer includes one historic house that was burned by an arsonist and three buildings that lost their historic significance in alterations.

The Wolfson Building, at 100 N. Main St. on Main Plaza, is Site No. 35 on the trail. As the home of Wolfson’s Dry Goods and Clothing Store, it was a cornerstone of a retail boom in the plaza in the late 1800s. It’s also on the site where Mexican Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna is said to have planned his army’s assault on the Alamo in 1836, said Marlene Richardson, the conservation society’s third vice president, who oversaw the route’s update.

Roosevelt’s Rough Riders were outfitted for their famous 1898 charge up San Juan Hill at one saddlery shop in Main Plaza and another nearby at 231 E. Commerce St. A stop at the Tower Life Building, a neo-gothic skyscraper that’s a familiar part of the city skyline, was added to the trail. Richardson recommends a look inside.

“Walk right in there. It’s gorgeous,” and offers relief from the heat, she said.

The brochure is available at conservation society offices, 107 King William St., and the San Antonio Visitor Center, 317 Alamo Plaza, and is posted on the society’s website,

King William Realty listing featured in Spaces

One of our King William Realty listings was recently featured in the San Antonio Express-News Spaces section. This is an amazing property!

Spaces: A multifamily mess transforms into a neoclassical gem

By Karen M. Davis   Photos by Jerry Lara
Friday, March 4, 2011

When Kevin Browne first saw the three-story neoclassical mansion in the area south of downtown often referred to as Baja King William, it was a far cry from the elegant residence built in 1907 by James Luby, a judge from Duval County.

Its three floors had been broken up into four apartments, with walls in places they weren’t meant to be. A former carriage house in the back had been divided into two small apartments. Both structures had been poorly maintained.

“It was a mess,” Browne says.

But he saw the possibilities and had the desire to bring the house back to its former glory. He bought it and hired an architect to draw up the plans. In July 2008, construction began.

Browne located descendants of the original owners, who gave him photos of the house in its heyday. After almost two years of construction, the renovations were finished last April. And the result is a 4,600-square-foot showplace that combines an early 1900s flavor with modern conveniences.

An old photograph of the home. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

An old photograph of the home. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

Outside, large, rounded porches are supported by tall cypress columns with carved capitals. Each floor has its own porch, and the upper porches offer great views of downtown.

The Brownes can relax and enjoy the view from the third-floor balcony. It faces downtown and offers a great view of New Year’s Eve fireworks. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

The Brownes can relax and enjoy the view from the third-floor balcony. It faces downtown and offers a great view of New Year’s Eve fireworks. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

Inside, Browne restored the original long-leaf pine floors. There are seven fireplaces. The high ceilings and large windows popular in an era before air conditioning give the interior an expansive feel.

The main staircase features detail crafted pillars. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

The main staircase features detail crafted pillars. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

The entry room’s fireplace has a marble surround that Browne ordered from New York to replace the original brick structure. Built-in storage benches flank the fireplace. A round table in the center of the room sits on a zebra-skin rug that Browne’s wife, Jody, bought at the annual Olé Marketplace.

The adjacent library has another fireplace, bookshelves and an antique Persian rug. Behind the library is the family room, featuring a chandelier a friend brought back from Morocco and a marble fireplace that once was in the Plaza Hotel in New York.

The sitting room is located between the library and the dining room and features a chandelier from Morocco. The marble fireplace originally was in New York’s Plaza Hotel. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

The sitting room is located between the library and the dining room and features a chandelier from Morocco. The marble fireplace originally was in New York’s Plaza Hotel. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

The library room is located to the left of the front entrance and features a fireplace. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

The library room is located to the left of the front entrance and features a fireplace. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

Behind the family room is the formal dining room — an oval room with a coved ceiling and a mahogany fireplace. The dining table is an antique purchased from a friend, and the chairs are a “vintage find,” Jody Browne says.

The formal dining room of Kevin and Jody Browne’s home is oval shaped and features the original windows and a mahogany fireplace. The table and chairs are antiques. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

The formal dining room of Kevin and Jody Browne’s home is oval shaped and features the original windows and a mahogany fireplace. The table and chairs are antiques. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

Off the dining room is the former butler’s pantry, which now is used as a breakfast room and wine storage and serving area. The adjacent kitchen has been updated with black soapstone counters, an island and walnut cabinets. A big Wolf stove dominates one wall.

A view of the kitchen. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

A view of the kitchen. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

On the second floor, a sign painted on one door says “smoking room.” It’s now used as a music room. An unusual feature is the triple-hung casement window that’s used instead of a door to access the second-floor porch.

Next to the music room is an office, also with its own fireplace, and the back of the house includes the master suite and an enclosed back porch that has space for a day bed, eating area and laundry. The master bath is done in limestone, with op-art tiles in the walk-in shower.

The master bath has a modern walk-in shower. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

The master bath has a modern walk-in shower. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

The third floor is an open area with large closets, a kitchen and a bathroom. It’s the domain of Jody’s 15-year-old son.

The third floor bath has hardwood floors and classic fixtures. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

The third floor bath has hardwood floors and classic fixtures. Photo: SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, JERRY LARA

While the house is large, the rooms have been kept their original sizes.

“I love that,” Jody says. “It’s cozy, even though it looks so huge from the outside.”

Spaces: A Lavaca home that gets into the neighborhood’s artsy groove

My house was recently featured in the San Antonio Express-News Spaces Column. My wife and I have been in Lavaca for over four years and love to collect art from local artist. Take a peek inside my house and let me know what you think. If you look closely you’ll notice the true “owner” of our house, our dog Charlie.

Spaces: A Lavaca home that gets into the neighborhood’s artsy groove
San Antonio Express-News Posted December 5, 2010. Written By Karen M. Davis; All Photos by John Davenport.

Curtis and Krista Bowers’ charming yellow Folk Victorian sits on a corner in the Lavaca neighborhood, an easy walk from the restaurants and art galleries of Southtown. That proximity is a major reason that their century-old home is decorated not in period style, but with an eclectic variety of modern art created by artists from the area.

“We’ve really embraced local artists and love to buy their pieces,” Curtis Bowers says. “To us, it’s part of living in the neighborhood. Nearly every piece of art has a story behind it.”

The Bowers’ Folk Victorian in the Lavaca neighborhood just south of downtown San Antonio was built around the turn of the 20th century.

The living area in Curtis and Krista Bowers’ home is adorned with contemporary art work reflecting the Lavaca and Southtown neighborhoods. Two older photos depict the home’s builder and a couple who lived there in the 1940s.

The couple moved from a North Side tract home to their current place four years ago. Although the Lavaca house, built around 1900, had been updated before they bought it, “this was our very first ‘old’ house,” Krista Bowers says. “It was a big change, but one we really like.”

The 1,500-square-foot home had white walls when the couple bought it, but that soon changed.

“The decorator we were working with urged us to be bold in choosing colors for the walls,” Curtis says. The result is bright red walls in the kitchen, a guest bath with tangerine-tinted walls and a variety of warm tones in other rooms.

The decorator Curtis and Krista Bowers hired encouraged them to use bright colors on the walls, like this red in the kitchen. White cabinets provide contrast.

The owners also changed the flow of the house. When they bought it, there was a door connecting the dining room with a small room off the master bedroom. They covered the door with a large storage unit in the dining room and wall hangings in the smaller room, which they now use as their TV room.

A giant “steamroller print” of the Eiffel Tower hangs on a wall in the media room. The wood block print is by Gary Sweeney.

On the wall of that room is one of the more eye-catching art pieces in the house — a floor-to-ceiling “steamroller print” of the Eiffel Tower with a local artist known as “Bunnyphonic” in the foreground. It is a wood-block print created by artist Gary Sweeney in 2007.

Over the bed in the master bedroom is a set of skateboards minus their wheels painted with views of San Francisco’s “painted ladies” — Victorian homes painted in different hues. The couple honeymooned in that city. The adjacent master bath was a kitchen when the house was a duplex years ago.

The living area is bright and open, with large windows. The living room has a comfortable seating area and a trio of windows facing the Tower of the Americas.

The Tower of the Americas is visible from the front windows. The Bowers say they get a good view of the fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

“We get a great view of the fireworks on New Year’s Eve. It’s a perfect party place,” Krista says.

On one living room wall are two old photographs — one of the home’s builder, Conrad Flaig, and his family, and another of a couple who owned the house in the 1940s. On another wall are two large photos of local scenes by San Antonio photographer Rick Hunter.

In the dining room are two works by local artist Jorge Garza that feature numbers arranged in various ways. There’s also a large, colorful painting by Kori Ashton displayed on top of the storage unit to hide the transom between the dining room and TV room.

Art work by Jorge Garza is reflected on a glass table in the dining area. Living in the Lavaca neighborhood prompted the Bowers to buy the art they found in the area.

The kitchen has gray granite counters and white cabinets. Carpet tiles on the floor depict an aerial view of skyscrapers.

The kitchen opens to a comfortable screened porch with a wicker seating area and a dining table and chairs. The area had been closed in, but the previous owner knocked out the walls to create a porch. The Bowers screened it in.

A screened-in back porch connects to the kitchen with French doors. The couple often dines there.

“We really enjoy eating out here,” Krista says.

King William eying a smaller expansion

Proposed King William Historic District Expansion

Proposed King William Historic District Expansion

By Scott Huddleston – Express-News

Efforts to expand the King William Historic District will resume this week, but with a smaller area affected downtown.
The area now targeted for extension of the district is roughly one-third the size it was in August, when condominium and business owners along South Flores Street balked at the proposal. Their frustration was fueled in part by a recent code change that shifted the burden of petition to those who oppose historic designation.

“The response was pretty scorching. The combined sentiment was that this was not welcome,” said Martha McCabe, a resident and condo owner west of Flores.

But McCabe said she’s happy that the city and the King William Association, which requested the expansion, removed her street. The houses and other properties that remain in the proposed area are a better fit for King William, she said.

A meeting on the proposal is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Development & Business Services Center, 1901 S. Alamo. Those opposing the expansion then will have 90 days to gather signatures from 51 percent of property owners to halt the process.

Before a code change adopted by the City Council in June, a designation process could be initiated only with signatures from 51 percent of homeowners who favored designation.

Dick Davis, King William Association president, said the group erred in asking the city to move the district’s western edge to San Pedro Creek in order to protect the area from high-rises, aluminum windows, chain-link fencing and other materials that diminish a historic neighborhood’s beauty and authenticity.

“It probably was a mistake,” he said, to target a large area, especially after the code change.

Although some have raised concerns about taxes and restrictions on exterior improvements, many of the nearly 100 property owners affected could receive a break on city taxes if the district is enlarged.

Rumors had circulated that the association wanted to enlarge the district so it could move part of the annual King William Fair. After surveying residents, “we decided to keep the fair pretty much as it is,” Davis said.

McCabe, a retired lawyer, suggested that the city use a mediator to negotiate with property owners before any future designation processes begin.

“When property owners face a fight-or-flight dilemma, most are going to stay and fight,” she said.

Shanon Wasielewski, the city’s historic preservation officer, said the city is encouraging neighborhoods “more strongly” to hold informal meetings on a designation before a formal process begins.

“There’s always going to be somebody at that first meeting wondering why they didn’t know about it earlier,” she said.