Hot Wells Reopens as a County Park

Hot Wells of Bexar County is the newest county park, which opened to the public on April 30th, 2019. It is located at 5503 South Presa Street, along the Mission Reach section of the San Antonio River Walk, with connections to the Mission Reach Trails. The park is right across the river from Mission San Jose.Hot Wells of Bexar County

Brief History of Hot Wells Resort

The Hot Wells Resort is a former bathhouse, hotel and spa. It all started when an artesian well with Sulphur water was found, on the grounds of the former Southwestern Insane Asylum, in 1892.Hot Wells of Bexar County

In 1894 a bathhouse and a hotel were built on the property, by developer McClellan Shacklett. The octagon-shaped bathhouse featured 45 private baths, within three 90-foot-long pools. The health spa received hot, sulfurous water from a well in Edwards Aquifer, which released 180,000 gallons of water each day.Hot Wells of Bexar County

The hotel burned to the ground later in 1894. Since Shacklett was financially unable to rebuild, the property was sold to Otto Koehler, a German immigrant and founder of the Pearl Brewery. Koehler reopened the hotel, in 1902, as a 3-story, 80-room Victorian-style hotel.Hot Wells of Bexar County

In 1908, the hotel was expanded to nearly 200 rooms, making it one of the largest hotels in the Southwestern United States. Famous guests at the hotel included Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States and Porfirio Diaz, who served 7 terms, from 1877-1880 and from 1884-1911, as the President of Mexico. Other famous guests included stars of film and stage, including Cecil B. DeMille, Charlie Chaplin, Sarah Bernhardt and Will Rogers.Hot Wells of Bexar County

In 1910, Hot Wells was home to Star Film Company, a French movie production company, which produced over 70 films in San Antonio, most of them silent films.

In 1923, the property was sold to a Christian Science Group, who transformed the property into the El Dorado School. The hotel was used as a dormitory, which burned down in 1925.

Before fading away into history in 1977, the property was a bar and grill- called The Flame Room- a motel and trailer park, as well as tourist cottages. Hot Wells of Bexar County

Hot Wells of Bexar County

During construction of the new park, approximately 1,500 artifacts were unearthed, including animal bones, beer and champagne bottles, stone chips and vintage Syracuse China that featured Hot Wells logos. Construction of the park included preserving and stabilizing the bathhouse ruins, using framing and supports, landscaping the grounds and installing interpretive signs.Hot Wells of Bexar County

Currently, park visitors can stroll the ruins of the bathhouse. The park features a community vegetable garden and picnic tables. Long-range plans for the county park include restoration of the North Wing of the bathhouse to be used for a demonstration kitchen, a meeting room, a museum display, a student computer room, a small gift shop and office space.Hot Wells of Bexar County

The Hot Wells Conservancy is also planning programs for education, preservation, recreation and restoration. Future plans also include drilling a new well and opening a new spa. Additionally, long-range plans will also include an aviary, a greenhouse, an interpretive center, a stage, a system for harvesting rain water and an outdoor film screen showing silent movies, many of them made by Cecil B. DeMille, a filmmaker and frequent Hot Wells guest.Hot Wells of Bexar County

On Opening Day, Lupe Guerrero of the Tehuan Band of Mission Indians blessed the park; Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff unveiled a new sign featuring park hours and park rules and Bexar Commissioner Tommy Calvert unveiled a new historical marker.Hot Wells of Bexar County

Things to Do Nearby Hot Wells of Bexar County

RESTAURANTS

54th Street Restaurant & Drafthouse

Armadillos Texas Style Burgers

Daniel’s Café

Firehouse Subs

Market Barbecue

Texas Roadhouse

NIGHTLIFE

B&N Sports Bar

City Base Cinema 10

Club Oasis

Joe’s Corner Saloon

Mustang Sally’s Bar

Neal’s Ice Station

ATTRACTIONS

La Villita Historic Arts Village

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

San Antonio River Walk

San Fernando Cathedral

The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum

 

 

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