The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.
I was born and raised in San Antonio, and when my husband and I left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, I already knew where I wanted to live. My mother was a realtor in the 1980s and worked a lot in the Jefferson-Monticello neighborhoods. I spent my weekends at open houses and loved how each home had a unique personality and its own story.
When we found our mid-century modern home, we knew it was the one — pink bathroom, sunken living room with turquoise shag carpet — we kept it all. Over time, we’ve made the most investment in the spacious backyard. Pre-pandemic, we hosted parties regularly, and now we have a large vegetable and herb garden and a coop of chickens to tend to. It’s definitely a piece of the country right in the middle of the historic core.
The neighborhood has evolved since I was a kid in a great way. Most of our neighbors are still “legacies” living in the same home for decades. As a realtor, I work with a lot of families that want to buy a home close to their parents and grandparents. I love that about Jefferson. People just don’t want to leave! But we also have a great eclectic mix of artists, couples, and young families here, many of whom are new to San Antonio and fell for the same mid-century charm we did.
When we’re not in the backyard or walking through the neighborhood, we enjoy a few local favorites. Vee’s hair salon is where you get all the good neighborhood gossip. Jefferson Bodega stocks all the fun Asian snacks, Mexican candies, and hard-to-find craft beers for a great weekend. And for a walk on the wild side, visit Dandyland Tattoo. What’s even cooler is that all of these small business owners also live in the neighborhood, keeping their work close to home.
Although people typically think of the museums or Southtown when they’re looking for San Antonio’s art scene, Jefferson actually has a thriving artist community, enough to create the annual On and Off Fredericksburg Road Studio Tour. Every February, we visit the homes and studios of our artist neighbors and end up buying something from a new favorite artist. Our home is decorated almost entirely with work created by fellow Jeffersonians.
We’ve found, like many people probably have, that it’s harder to be neighborly during the pandemic; you have to work at it a little more. Still, we were able to launch the first-ever Jefferson Pride Parade last year. We put out fliers, decorated our cars with rainbow banners and pride flags, got a sound system with a live DJ, and over 40 cars paraded through the neighborhood. All proceeds went to our local LGBTQ+ nonprofit, Fiesta Youth. People came out on their porches and front yards to wave and whoop. It really cheered everyone up, I think.
My favorite time of year in Jefferson is Halloween. There are always lots of trick-or-treaters and so many awesome decorations. People really get into it. Our neighbor, the artist Margaret Craig, actually creates a full cemetery with a pumpkin patch in her corner lot.
Nothing beats the annual Día de los Muertos fireworks at Woodlawn Lake. Everyone finds a view and brings their chairs and coolers into the streets (if they haven’t braved the crowds to get a prime barbecue spot in the park).
Our thriving Jefferson Community Garden has around 200 members who plant and distribute the fruits of their labor to neighbors. Since the pandemic hit, many people in the community have used the organic produce in the garden to make meals for neighbors that were sick or isolated.
We have a little extra help in the garden from our local possum community that helps us keep the garden clean by eating bugs and snails. The neighbors have all come to appreciate these critters and see them as neighborhood mascots. We’ve even named the one that runs through our backyard at night Ignacio.
Of course, conservation districts aren’t for everybody. Maintaining older homes will always be a labor of love. There’s always something to be maintained or replaced and preserving the home’s charm and character often means finding craftsmen who do custom work. We’ve found some excellent contractors among our friends and neighbors.
Although the midcentury and ranch-style architecture originally drew us to the neighborhood, it is the people who keep us here.