The Maverick Carter House was built on the banks of the San Antonio River in 1893. The site was part of San Antonio’s earliest subdivision, the Alamo City, which comprised a large tract of land stretching north of the Alamo and west to the river. Land for the Alamo City was assembled, subdivided, and sold beginning in the early 1850s. When the property was partitioned in late 1853, John S. McClellan received many lots from his partners George M. Martin and James R. Sweet. McClellan then began to sell his land.1
The lots where the Maverick Carter House was later built were purchased in 1854 by two members of the United States Army, Henry H. Sibley and William W. Burns, who were stationed in Texas at the time. Each served in the United States-Mexican War and was also assigned to frontier duty in Texas. Both later became notable military figures though their careers took different paths with the outbreak of the Civil War. Sibley served in the Confederate Army and Burns in the Union Army. Neither retained ties to San Antonio and the land remained undeveloped as seen on both the 1873 and 1886 bird’s eye view maps of the city. 2
1Bexar County Deed Records (BCDR) L2:260-261 (Martin and Sweet to McClellan, December 21, 1853).
2BCDR L2:544-545 (McClellan to Sibley and Burns, May 18, 1854; L2:588-589 (Sweet to Burns, June 16, 1854)
Though Henry Sibley sold his interest in the 1860s, Burns continued to own the property. After Burns’s death in 1892, his widow sold the vacant land to William Temple who served as the agent for his employer, William H. Maverick. 3
William (Willie) Harvey Maverick (1847-1923) was the sixth child of Samuel Augustus Maverick, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, and his wife Mary Adams Maverick. The Maverick family invested heavily in real estate, and owned and developed many properties in downtown San Antonio, including lots where they built their own homes.
William Maverick married Emilie Virginia Chilton in 1873 and the couple had five children—William C., Lewis, Laura, Robert, and Augustus. In 1887, Maverick and his family moved to Europe. By the early 1890s, the couple separated and William Maverick and his children moved back to San Antonio. It was then that he purchased the Taylor Street property and built the family home there. 4
3BCDR S2:348-349 (Sibley to H. Mayer and Company, August 19, 1862); 118:582-585 (Burns to Temple, April 15, 1893).
4Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Maverick Family Papers. William and Emilie Maverick never divorced. She was prohibited from seeing her children and when her son, Augustus, was killed in 1913, she was not listed as a survivor (San Antonio Light, August 19, 1913, 5). William Maverick purchased the property for his children who each held an equal interest.
William Maverick selected prominent architect Alfred Giles (1853-1920) to design his elegant stone residence. Giles had designed many other commercial and residential structures for Maverick family members. As a world traveler, William Maverick was well-versed in architectural design. His daughter, Laura Maverick Graves, recalled that the house incorporated elements of a house Maverick “had admired in Cleveland, Ohio.”5 The 3-story structure, which contained nine bedrooms to accommodate Maverick and his five children, was estimated to cost $16,000. Begun in May 1893, the Mavericks were able to occupy the house by July 3, 1894. Family members lived there until it was sold in 1912. 6
One of William Maverick’s sons, Lewis, recalled many details of the area surrounding the house. In 1893, the property was “completely enclosed by good and substantial fences on the north, east and south,” and ran down to the river on the west.7 He estimated that the cedar post had been there at least 15 or 20 years in 1893. Before construction of the house, the property was enclosed by the fencing and planted in Johnson grass cared for by a neighbor, Ernst Hessler. 8
Lewis Maverick also remembered that he and his siblings played on the land north of the house where an orchard was planted. Soon after moving into the house, the children helped their father build a retaining wall along the river. On the remainder of the family’s property to the north of their house and yard was a stone house that dated to the 1850s. The house was rented out by Robert and Augustus Maverick, from 1894 until 1912 when it was demolished in preparation for construction of the Toltec Apartments. 9
5San Antonio Light, January 26, 1947, as cited by Mary Carolyn Hollers Jutson. Alfred Giles: An English Architect in Texas and Mexico (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1972) 62.
6San Antonio Daily Light, July 22, 1893, 15; BCDR 441:378-380 (Affidavit as to possession, July 14, 1914).
7BCDR 441:378-380 (Affidavit as to possession, Lewis Maverick to H.C. Carter et al, July 14, 1914).
As remembered by Laura Maverick Graves, the wide lawn behind the house sloping back to the San Antonio River was “an appropriate setting for Maverick’s prize rose bushes… which at that time wound in front of the present site of the municipal auditorium.”10 After many devastating floods, notably two in 1913, the City of San Antonio began work to remove bends in the river that impeded the downstream flow of flood water. The river channel immediately behind the Maverick Carter House was filled and a new, straight channel constructed. The Maverick family and others with river front land conveyed its “riparian and water rights” to the city which guaranteed to fill and grade the property.11
11BCDR 598:293-295 (Elizabeth B. Maverick to City of San Antonio, June 9, 1920).
William Maverick lived with his son, Robert, in the Taylor Street home until 1910 when he moved to live with another son, Augustus, and his wife Elizabeth in the new Beacon Hill subdivision. Robert, who was president of the Express Publishing Company, purchased the house from his four siblings, and continued to live there with his wife Laura until 1912.12
Robert Maverick then sold the family home to Arthur L. and Mary Tuttle who owned it for less than two years. Tuttle was the general agent for the Jimulco, Continental and Texas and Mexico Mining Companies and the Panuco and Monclova Railway Company. During Tuttle’s ownership, Henry Champe (H.C.) Carter (1861-1948) and his wife, Ella Goodwyn, lived in the house which they purchased in 1914.13
12BCDR 344:576-78 (William C. Maverick et al to Robert Maverick, December 2, 1910).
13BCDR 439:16 (Maverick to Tuttle, April 15, 1914); BCDR 441: 378-80 (Lewis Maverick to H.C. Carter et al July 14, 1914); David Carter to Maria Pfeiffer, November 1997.
H.C. and Ella Carter had four children, Mary Louise, Randolph, Goodwyn, and Ella. Ella Carter died in 1914 soon after she and her husband purchased the Taylor Street house. Two years later, H.C. Carter married Aline Badger (c. 1892-1972), and they had three sons, H.C., Jr., Frank and David, all born at 119 Taylor Street.14
Described at the time of his death as “dean of the San Antonio bar,” H.C. Carter practiced law for 55 years.”15 He was a respected member of the legal profession, and served as president of the Texas Bar Association. In Carter’s honor, all Bexar County courts were closed the afternoon of his funeral. 16
Aline Badger Carter was descended from a pioneer San Antonio family. She was the granddaughter of Sarah Riddle Eagar, who is sometimes referred to as the first American girl born in San Antonio. Until the time of her marriage to H.C. Carter, Aline Badger lived in the historic Eagar family house at 434 South Alamo Street. 17
As a poet, artist, astronomy educator, musician, and humanitarian, Aline Carter was a unique woman of her day, and her house came to reflect these interests. A devoted member of nearby St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, she was known as “the angel of St. Mark’s.”18 She converted William Maverick’s first floor library into a small chapel and installed an organ where she demonstrated her musical training gained at the Boston Conservatory. Following Mrs. Carter’s designs, local artist and conservationist Ethel Harris and her husband Arthur, who were family friends, built the chapel and its furnishings, including ten chairs that serve as pews. Stained glass windows added to the house featured religious themes, with crosses, doves, and Gothic decoration. Above the archway leading to the chapel are the words, “Be Still and Know that I am God.” 19
Aline Carter also realized her religious ideals through science. Her love of astronomy led her to purchase a telescope and construct a rooftop observatory, also built by Ethel and Arthur Harris. She shared her knowledge by teaching classes in astronomy at San Antonio’s Witte Museum. The observatory dome is painted with the inscription, “When I Consider Thy Heavens, O Lord.” 20
Devoted to the betterment of mankind and to worldwide peace, Aline Carter hosted a Christmas celebration for orphans at her house for 35 years. The St. Mark’s Church choir descended the grand staircase singing and holding candles and Carter distributed gifts and served refreshments.
14Carter,” San Antonio Express, October 14, 1972; “Mrs. H.C. Carter dies,” San Antonio Express, July 27, 1914.
15“H.C. Carter Funeral Held,” San Antonio Light, October 11, 1948.
17Charles Merritt Barnes, Combats and Conquests of Immortal Heroes (San Antonio: Guessaz and Ferlet Company, 1910) 40; “Poet Laureate,” San Antonio Express, October 10, 1948; Texas Historical Commission, Registered Texas Historical Landmark listing, 1966.
18Lewis F. Fisher, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 150 Years of Ministry in Downtown San Antonio, 1858-2008 (San Antonio: Maverick Publishing Company, 2008) 98.
19“Renovation recalls Victorian dream,” San Antonio Express-News, August 30, 1981. Ethel Wilson Harris was the 13th president of the San Antonio Conservation Society, serving from 1951-1953.
20 “Renovation recalls Victorian dream,” San Antonio Express-News, August 30, 1981; David Carter to Maria Pfeiffer, November 1997.
Devoted to the betterment of mankind and worldwide peace, Aline Carter hosted a Christmas celebration for orphans at her house for 35 years. The St. Mark’s Church choir descended the grand staircase singing and holding candles and Carter distributed gifts and served refreshments. 21
Mrs. Carter’s interests also included weekly classes for juvenile delinquents at the Bexar County Juvenile Home where she taught astronomy, geology, nature studies, reading and writing. She devoted much of her time to social work in city and county institutions, including local jails, and is credited with saving the life of Pete McKenzie, who was accused of killing police commissioner Sam Street. 22
Aline Carter was perhaps best known for her love of poetry and dedication to promoting this literary form in Texas. In recognition of her talent and work, she was named the eighth Poet Laureate of Texas, serving from 1947 to 1949. Carter, working with another San Antonio writer, Lucia Trent and the Texas Council for the Promotion of Poetry, began a movement to establish Poet’s Day in Texas, which was designated in 1948 to be October 15 by Governor Beauford H. Jester. 23
Carter published her collected works in two volumes, Halo of Love, which she illustrated with her own drawings, and Doubt Not The Dream. Both books contain poems reflecting her love of astronomy and religion. She won first prize in a 1950 worldwide competition of poems on peace held in Paris. Further demonstrating her dedication to humanity was Aline Carter’s establishment during World War II of a $50 prize for the best poem by a Texas author (or a $100 prize for an individual world-wide) written on the subject of peace. After the war, the prize was devoted to the subject of international or friendly relations. In recognition of her work, the Poetry Society of Texas created the Aline B. Carter Peace Prize. 24
Aline Carter deeded the family home to her youngest son, David (1921-2013), in 1953, retaining a life estate. She continued to live there until her death in 1972. David Carter undertook a full restoration of the house in 1978 and it was then used for important family events and receptions for distinguished visitors. After David Carter’s death in 2013, his children Marline Carter Lawson and Paul Carter continued the family’s stewardship of the house, completing an extensive renovation in 2018. The Maverick Carter House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, and was designated a Registered Texas Historic Landmark in 2010.25
21The Christmas parties preceded desegregation and included only while children. David Carter recalled that his mother also contributed to the welfare of African American orphans. (David Carter to Maria Pfeiffer, November 1997).
23Tyler, Ron (ed.). New Handbook of Texas (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1996) 5:249; Margaret Royalty Edwards, Poets Laureate of Texas (San Antonio: The Naylor Company) 57-59; “San Antonian named Poet Laureate,” San Antonio Express, April 3, 1947; “Poet Laureate,” San Antonio Express, October 10, 1948.
24“San Antonian named Poet Laureate,” San Antonio Express, April 3, 1947; “Poet Laureate,” San Antonio Express, October 10, 1948; “Mrs. Carter Dies; Was Poet Laureate,” San Antonio Express, October 14, 1972).
25BCDR 3507:433-434 (Aline B. Carter to David Paul Carter, October 10, 1953; filed June 12, 1954). Goodwyn Carter, David Carter’s older half-brother, lived in the house until his death in 1982 (San Antonio News, September 24, 1982).
“Maverick Carter House Historical Narrative”
by Maria Watson Pfeiffer
December 19, 2016
Maria Watson Pfeiffer, a fourth-generation San Antonian, is a self-employed professional historian, freelance historical researcher, and consultant. She received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Texas at Austin and her M.A. in Urban Studies from Trinity University. During thirty-one years as a historian and preservation consultant, she has made extensive use of primary and secondary sources, such as private and governmental records, photographs, and maps, to prepare documentation of historic sites, buildings, and districts. She has affiliations with the National Council on Public History, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Texas Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, the Texas State Historical Association, the Witte Museum, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, and the San Antonio Conservation Society.
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