The Jefferson Neighborhood (green) is located west of Fredericksburg Road and east of St. Cloud between Donaldson and W. Woodlawn Avenues. The area, with streets lined by stately homes set amid dense foliage, retains much of its original regal authority. From the 30s through the 60s, and even into the 70s, Jefferson remained a very tony place to live. Part of the elite North Side, many of San Antonio’s current City movers and shakers grew up here and graduated from Jefferson High School.
A drive through the Jefferson Neighborhood reveals whimsical residential architecture rooted in the vision of architect Nathan Strauss Nayfach, an upand-coming influential San Antonio architect in the late 30s and 40s. He designed the Alameda Theater downtown and designed and built the Alazán-Apache Courts, a cutting-edge, low-income housing concept at the time. In the Jefferson and Monticello Park areas, Strauss Nayfach offered a very rare service to the middle and upper middle class market: the skills of an architect combined with the services of a contractor and builder. His fanciful façades delight the eye with an admix of styles, materials and textures.
The imposing stone monuments visible along the east side of Lake Boulevard were built by developers to separate the ‘old’ part of Jefferson from the ‘new.’ One can be found at the corner of Huisache and Lake in front of Horace Mann Junior High School (now the Young Women’s Leadership Academy, a charter school), a nice example of Art Deco style. On the west side of Lake are ‘roundations’ where the old streets ended in cul-de-sacs. Later, the cul-de-sacs were turned into through streets running to Fredericksburg Road.
On Donaldson, just past Wilson Boulevard, is another historical structure, the Jefferson Shopping Village. Built in 1949, it was the first modern shopping center in the United States, a plan so revolutionary that it garnered a national award for urban design.
As you enjoy your time in the Jefferson Neighborhood, keep your eyes peeled for Fernando Andrade’s murals, created initially to combat a recurring graffiti problem in the area. Andrade began the first one in 2004 soon after graduating from Jefferson High School. Located in the 900 block of Donaldson at Manor, it depicts a collage of San Antonio landmarks, including Little Flower Catholic Church, the Alamo, and the River Walk. The river overflows into a pair of large hands in the middle of the painting that, according to Andrade, signify community and togetherness. The picture, with a blue sky in the background, blends with another mural beside it, completed a year later, that depicts other local landmarks. A second mural was, until recently, located at the Jefferson Methodist Church, 1700 Wilson. And a third, by Andrade and fellow muralist Sam Morales with neighborhood volunteers, the most recent, is at the car wash at 319 St. Cloud.