UPDATE/EDITOR’S NOTE at 7:00 p.m. May 7, 2014: The Historic Design and Review Committee (HDRC) unanimously voted (9-0) against the two-block relocation of the historic Boehler House and former Liberty Bar near the Pearl Brewery during its meeting today. The small home behind the bar, however, is cleared to be moved to the 900 block of Avenue A.
The decision may be overturned if The Pearl Brewery files an appeal with the Board of Appeals.
I am a preservation architect, and have been working with Rio Perla Properties since the property was purchased in 2002, first as a senior associate with Ford, Powell & Carson and in the last 18 months as an independent consultant.
I have firsthand experience with Rio Perla’s commitment to the history and built environment of the Pearl Brewery and its surrounding neighborhood. Through the restoration and preservation of numerous historic structures at Pearl, from the 1894 Brewhouse, the Boiler House and the Pearl Stable to the relocation and adaptive reuse of the ca. 1900 Mueller House on Avenue A, Rio Perla has shown this commitment time and again. (See photo gallery above.)
Adherence to the Secretary of Interior’s Guidelines for Restoration, the City of San Antonio Historic and Design Review Commission Guidelines and the River Improvement Overlay Standards have been and continue to be integral parts of any project at Pearl. Throughout the world and in San Antonio as well there are precedent examples of moving historic buildings for the betterment of the structures and their use by their surrounding communities.
The Marble Arch in Hyde Park was moved in the late 1880’s from Buckingham Palace, the 1802 home of Alexander Hamilton in New York City, was relocated from a cramped lot on Convent Avenue to a more spacious setting facing West 141st Street in nearby St. Nicholas Park.
Here in San Antonio both the Fairmount Hotel and the Sullivan Carriage House were moved to enhance their public use and ensure their survival. The Fairmount was moved from Commerce Street where Rivercenter Mall is to its current location across from the entrance to Hemisfair Park and the Sullivan Carriage House was moved from Broadway up to the San Antonio Botanical Garden to act as the visitor center and restaurant.
Rio Perla’s proposal to move the Boehler House at 328 E. Josephine Street — now Minnie’s Tavern and Rye House — from a location that no longer represents the neighborhood that existed when it was built to a spot a couple of blocks away that is a thriving, vital hub in this same neighborhood will not only save it from further deterioration, but will structurally stabilize and restore the much loved building.
Additionally, there is a long and well documented relationship between this building and Pearl Brewery. The original owner and proprietor, Fritz Boehler, was an early brewmeister at Pearl. Another owner, Aubrey Kline, worked at the brewery as public relations director for more than 30 years and operated Boehlers with his brothers during the 60s and 70s.
When Prohibition ended on September 15, 1933, Boehler’s was the first place the Pearl trucks stopped.
We see the relocation and renovation of this historic building to 618 Avenue A as the next chapter in this long and storied relationship. The new life that Pearl will bring to a properly restored Boehler’s will continue the transformation that Rio Perla has brought to the neighborhood, and will protect and honor the history of the building and the families who have lived and worked there.
*Featured/top image: Rendering of the Boehler House’s new location. Photo courtesy of Pearl Brewery.