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After a little more than 56 years, I am living just one mile from the home where I was raised. The home on West Woodlawn Avenue is where I have my earliest childhood memories. Many of my memories revolve around time spent at Woodlawn Lake.  Our family had a great time having picnics there and feeding the ducks. As we grew older, my sisters would attend dance classes at what is now the Bertha Almaguer Dance building, and I would spend time shooting hoops at the Woodlawn gym.

My mom would sometimes load me and my four sisters in the car to go look at houses. We would drive through different neighborhoods and imagine someday living in one of those houses. I was especially enamored with the older homes we drove past. They had character and a richness to them. 

To this day, I find myself driving through neighborhoods and taking in the different areas of town. It’s through these drives I saw the diversity of this great city and grew to love its complexities. I love San Antonio and pride myself on knowing a lot about my city. For 15 years I worked downtown and would spend many lunch hours walking the streets, absorbing the history, and playing unofficial tour guide to lost tourists.

The San Antonio Report logo marks the location of the Jefferson Terrace neighborhood. Credit: Courtesy / Google Maps

In 2005, when my wife, Katherine, and I looked for a home for our blended family, we landed in San Antonio Ranch just west of Helotes. It was great for our family, and I served on the HOA for a few years as the president. When the population in the area exploded and the commute became unbearable, we decided to give urban living a try. 

We moved into an apartment on Broadway and then to another apartment on the River Walk. Other than having to take our dogs out every morning and evening, we enjoyed being renters. At one point, I thought I would never own another home. Well, eventually, the shine wore off and we needed our own outdoor space. We checked the box of urban living off and decided to move on.

We set our sights on Jefferson Terrace and looked at what seemed like a hundred homes. Many homes had been “flipped” and the newer style did not appeal to us. When we did find a home we liked, an offer was placed but we would be outbid. Katherine spent countless hours looking at new listings, and our realtor, Mike Acquisto, was very patient with us as we flooded him with requests to visit homes.

Just over a year ago our luck changed. When we walked into this house, we immediately fell in love with its charm – the original wooden floors, the front room (or parlor), and the amount of sun that came into the house. We knew there were some updates to be done, since it was built in 1947, but wanted to keep to its original design. Katherine and I looked at each other and knew, this was it – this was the home meant for us. 

Fernando Rocha, 2, with his mother Mary Jane, and sisters Celina, 5, and Adrianne, 3, at Woodlawn Lake Park circa 1966. Credit: Courtesy / Fernando Rocha

We love our home and Jefferson Terrace. The neighborhood is quiet, and neighbors look out for each other. Although the recent pandemic has limited large gatherings, we still visit each other, in small groups, and socialize on our front porches. One of our neighbors is a true gem. Val has the biggest heart and is ready to help with anything. She is an electrician and recently helped us with a few of our home improvements. She is always up for a funny story, a good laugh, and her favorite beer, which we keep stocked just for her.

Jefferson Bodega sells craft beer, imported candy, and other common and uncommon goods. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

We have been customizing our home to make it truly ours. We repainted the interior and hung some art on the walls that we have collected over the years. The dining room has been altered to include a bar, while a portion of the garage was converted into a workout room/man cave. Katherine has developed quite the green thumb with her herbs and hot peppers. Finally, the large backyard has been transformed into an oasis for entertaining – responsibly, of course. Our next major project is updating the small kitchen which we hope to get started on by the end of the year. It is a work in progress, and we have made some great progress.

This house is home to us, and we enjoy just being home – more so than any other house we have lived in. Living in the middle of a pandemic, we’re home more than we usually would be, and it’s a blessing to have a home we love. A lot of time is spent in our backyard with our three fur babies. There is always something to do – from home improvements, grilling some steaks on the grill, or listening to our neighbors behind us crank up their music. Just about every evening a nice breeze comes through, which makes for some great relaxation.

The backyard of the Jefferson Terrace house is built for entertaining and relaxation. Credit: Courtesy / Fernando Rocha

The location is perfect. Katherine and I are both 15 minutes from our offices. We are close to great places to eat, like Deco Pizza, the Original Donut Shop, Delicious Tamales, and Pancake Joe’s.  We love the Jefferson Bodega, with its wide selection of unusual items and great Texas beer selection. The old San Antonio charm surrounds us as we are only three blocks from the beautiful Woodlawn Lake and two blocks from the historic Jefferson High School Campus.  

The lake is still a great place for an outdoor picnic and reminiscing. From time to time, we bring lunch and find a place in the park to eat. As the weather cools down, we plan on spending more time there. The ducks are still around, just like the old days. My 84-year-old father, who graduated from Jefferson High School, loves to remind me that it can never be torn down because it is a historic landmark.

We look forward to becoming more active in the neighborhood and community.  We have spent the last year settling in, making small improvements, and getting to know our community.  It is now time to begin giving back to the Jefferson Terrace Community that has welcomed us with open arms.

I know, in my heart, I was meant to come back here – home to my roots. 

Fernando Rocha is a San Antonio native and Tax Partner at ABIP CPAs & Advisors, where he assists closely-held businesses and individuals with their business and tax matters. Fernando is active in the...