The Steves Homestead Museum in King William.
The historic Steves Homestead in King William has been sold and will no longer serve as a museum open to the public. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The Steves Homestead, open to the public for years as a house museum displaying the lifestyle of wealthy German merchants in the area at the turn of the century, is back in private hands. 

Owned for 70 years by the Conservation Society of San Antonio, the stately home in the King William Historic District was purchased in early June by the J.W. Plumfield Living Family Trust, according to an attorney representing the trust. 

Citing a confidentiality agreement, a sales price was not disclosed by the firm, Langley & Banack, nor the Conservation Society and its agent representing the sale, Stephen Yndo.

The most recent tax appraisal valued the three-story home on 1.6 acres along the San Antonio River at $3.2 million, up by nearly $1 million since 2018.

Marc Schnall, an attorney representing the buyer, released a statement saying the Steves Homestead has been well-preserved by the Conservation Society.

“As students of history and long-time residents of San Antonio, we are honored and excited to have the opportunity to carry forward the work started by the society. Our goal is to preserve the home and its outbuildings as much as possible, and continue the work of restoration for the benefit of future generations.”

The house is one of two historic King William homes offered for sale by the Conservation Society. In November, the organization put its headquarters property at 107 King William St. on the market for $3.9 million. The 1870 Anton Wulff House has not been sold. 

“Several groups looking, but nothing settled yet,” Yndo said of potential buyer interest in the Wulff house. 

Located at 509 King William Street, the Steves Homestead was built in 1876 for Edward Steves, founder of the lumber company Steves & Sons. It was constructed of limestone in the French Second Empire style and is thought to have been designed by noted local architect Alfred Giles. 

In 1952, Steves’ granddaughter, Edna Steves Vaughan, donated the house to the Conservation Society, which restored the Steves Homestead and other structures on the property, then opened it as a museum two years later.

The Conservation Society released a statement saying, “We are delighted the house will once again be a residence in the King William neighborhood.” 

Situated south of downtown San Antonio, the King William neighborhood was designated the state’s first residential historic district in 1968. 

Named after King Wilhelm I of Prussia by one of its first residents, Ernest Altgelt, the neighborhood is made up of many large, impressive houses designed in Greek Revival, Victorian and Italianate styles.

Another house museum in King William, the Italianate “Villa Finale,” built in 1876 and later restored by preservationist Walter Mathis, remains open for tours of the house, its collection of decorative arts and the garden. 

Owned by National Trust for Historic Preservation, Villa Finale is located at 401 King William St.

The King William Association also provides maps for self-guided walking tours of the neighborhood.

Avatar photo

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.