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Japanese Tea Garden - Brackenridge Park - San Antonio, TX
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member WalksfarTX
N 29° 27.644 W 098° 28.631
14R E 550695 N 3259147
Quick Description: No. 48 Contributing Resource
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 11/24/2019 1:33:55 PM
Waymark Code: WM11P66
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member QuesterMark
Views: 0

Long Description:
NRHP Nomination Form

"With the public acquisition of Koehler Park, the second Brackenridge bequest, and Davis Park, the city's parkland now extended west to Rock Quarry Road (St. Mary's Street). The north end of the quarry had been transformed into the zoological garden. Ray Lambert then turned his attention to the remaining quarry tracts.

Alamo Cement Company was still operating in the city quarry in 1899 when George Brackenridge made his first gift to the city. By 1908, however, the company needed a larger site with rail access and moved its plant to a 300acre site north of the city limits. The old plant was used intermittently for several years before closing permanently. After the cement company moved most of its operations in 1908, the city began to evaluate the quarry site. A survey revealed that as many as fifty-two "squatters" were living in houses in the quarry area. Most were likely former quarry employees. It was not until Ray Lambert's administration that the city took legal action to evict these residents. Beginning in 1920, the city attorney filed suits against the "squatters" and in 1926, the city council directed the removal of those who remained.

Ray Lambert viewed the abandoned quarry as an opportunity to construct an attraction he called the "lily pond." The pond, which later became known as the Japanese Tea Garden or Sunken Gardens, was the masterpiece of Lambert's creativity. Beginning in early 1917, Lambert worked with prison labor to build an irregularly-shaped garden that measured approximately four hundred by three hundred feet. Rock from the quarry was used to build and an island, two pools, bridges, and paths. The city nursery provided tropical plants and the Public Service Company donated the lighting system for the driveway and pond. A Japanese-style pagoda, roofed with palm leaves from city parks, was built overlooking the polo field.

The American City magazine reported in 1919 that "the city of San Antonio has recently completed a municipal lily pond and a Japanese garden which we believe are unique... It is planned to have tea served in the pagoda and adjacent to it will be the Mexican village, where it will be possible to obtain chili, tamales, and other Mexican dishes.

Ray Lambert invited Kimi Elizo Jingu, a Japanese-American artist, to oversee the garden. Jingu and his wife, Miyoshi, moved to a stone house built by the city near the pagoda and supervised the gardens while raising their family. In 1926, the Jingus opened the "Bamboo Room" in their home and sold green tea and green tea ice cream to visitors. The family continued to operate the garden after Mr. Jingu died in 1938. They were evicted in 1942 because of wartime anti-Japanese sentiment and the garden was renamed the "Chinese Sunken Garden." The Jingus were replaced by a Chinese-American couple who operated a snack bar there until the early 1960s. In 1984, the garden was rededicated as the Japanese Tea Garden at a ceremony attended by the Jingo's children and representatives of the Japanese government.

The 1976 National Register nomination of the Alamo Portland and Roman Cement Works included a one-acre site and five structures, with a period of significance that ended in 1899; it therefore did not include the subsequent landscape of the Japanese Tea Garden and its structures, such as the pagoda or bridges, nor the related Jingu House. These resources are counted here as contributing to Brackenridge Park."

Name of Historic District (as listed on the NRHP): Brackenridge Park

Link to page with the Historic District: [Web Link]

3853 N St Mary's St., San Antonio, TX 78212

How did you determine the building to be a contributing structure?: Narrative found on the internet (Link provided below)

Optional link to narrative or database: [Web Link]

NRHP Historic District Waymark (Optional): Not listed

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