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The house where my partner and I live once belonged to my grandparents. Much of what I remember from visiting over the years is still the same. The exterior of the house looks just like it always has. Across the street, just in front of the railroad tracks, you’ll often find 18-wheelers parked in the spot where my grandfather used to park his truck.

But other parts of Denver Heights are almost unrecognizable. As I drive to my job near the Pearl, I pass by new townhomes and condos, older homes being remodeled and others being demolished to make way for something new. A lot is changing very quickly and, while I’m happy to see the city paying more attention to the area, rising property taxes are concerning for families that have lived on the east side for generations.

Our neighborhood isn’t quite as walkable as we’d like yet, but we’re still able to walk to some of our favorite places. We love Amigos Snacks and More on Rigsby Avenue. Across from Amigos is Little Red Barn, a favorite family gathering spot where everything, from the food to the uniforms, is just the same as I remember from when I was a kid.

From left: Elissa Garza and her partner Catherine Flores walk their two dogs, Benji and Bruno, at Denver Heights Park Thursday.
From left: Elissa Garza and her partner Catherine Flores walk their two dogs, Benji and Bruno, at Denver Heights Park Thursday. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

We’re just two blocks away from Denver Heights Park, a cute little community park we often visit on walks with our dogs. But we have to leave the neighborhood if we want to go to an actual dog park, like Madison Square Park or Maverick Park. I’d love to see a dog park in the neighborhood and more coffee shops or other small businesses.

But being adjacent to downtown and Southtown, I still have easy access to so much. The prime location is what first drew me to the area. Living here since 2020 has also opened my eyes to what the East Side and the South Side have to offer. Before moving here, I would have never thought about driving down to Hot Wells. Now I recommend visiting the Hot Wells Hotel Ruins to everyone I meet. It’s so beautiful there.

Another big draw was, of course, the significance of this home to my family. I have so many fond memories of visiting my grandparents and celebrating holidays with the whole family. That’s why it’s important for me to carry on the tradition. Last year was the first Thanksgiving I hosted here, and it was nice to bring everyone together and reminisce about all the good times we had in this house.

Elissa Garza picks up a banana split and a raspa from Amigos Snacks on Rigsby Avenue Thursday.
Elissa Garza picks up a banana split and a raspa from Amigos Snacks on Rigsby Avenue Thursday. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

Everyone was so impressed with how my dad designed the interior of the house. Keeping the original bones and structure, he took it from a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house to three bedrooms and two baths. One thing I made sure to keep in the exact same spot was the serenity prayer my grandmother had on the doorframe of the entrance as a reminder of her and what she taught me.

The layout of the home is much more functional now, but it was always my dad’s goal to keep the outside of the house the same. When I sit out front, watching people and cars go by and hearing the sound of the train, I think about my grandparents sitting out here seeing the same sights and hearing the same sounds. It’s comforting to know that I’m carrying on their traditions, big and small.