Hot Wells. Photo by Jon Gustafson.
Hot Wells. Credit: Jon Gustafson for the San Antonio Report

Bexar County Commissioners Court approved a new County Park at the former Hot Wells Resort on the Southside.

On Tuesday, Bexar County approved $4 million for the first phase of resort improvements, including preservation, signage, parking, an outdoor classroom, and linkage to the Mission Reach from South Presa Street. Developer James Lifshutz donated land for the park and Hot Wells Conservancy will support the property’s redevelopment.

“The Hot Wells is a significant historic resource, that kind of already belongs to the public in their hearts and minds, and I’m just pleased to make it official,” Lifschutz told the San Antonio Express News.

The second phase of improvements, costing $2.3 million, will include gardens, a greenhouse, an outdoor stage and movie screen, and conservancy offices.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the Hot Wells site on the San Antonio River was home to a resort that used water from a hot Edwards Aquifer well. However, because of a series of fires the world-renowned vacation destination which attracted the rich and famous, such as Charlie Chaplin, Teddy Roosevelt, and Douglas Fairbanks, fell off the grid.

An undated Hot Wells Hotel and Spa postcard. Public domain image.
An undated Hot Wells Hotel and Spa postcard. Public domain image. Credit: Courtesy / Public Domain

The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance permanently plugged the 120-year-old artesian well in 2013.

The Hot Wells Conservancy, with help from neighborhood associations and other organizations such as the San Antonio River Authority, plans to restore the original bathhouse ruins and bring the area back to life, but this time as a park.

Planning for Hot Wells improvements began in 2012, and a timeline for upcoming changes has not been released.

*Top image: The Hot Wells ruins. Photo by Jon Gustafson. 

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Joan Vinson

Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....