King empire

The historic museum of King William’s house soon to be closed to the public

The Steves Homestead, open to the public for years as a house museum showcasing 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 historic King William district was purchased in early June by the JW Plumfield Living Family Trust, according to an attorney representing the trust.

Citing a non-disclosure agreement, a sale price was not disclosed by the company, Langley & Banack, nor the Conservation Society and its sales representative agent, Stephen Yndo.

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

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

“As history students and longtime residents of San Antonio, we are honored and excited to have the opportunity to continue the work the society began. Our goal is to preserve the home and its appurtenances as much as possible, and to continue the work of restoration for the benefit of future generations.

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

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

Located at 509 King William Street, the Steves Homestead was built in 1876 for Edward Steves, founder of the Steves & Sons lumber company. It was built of limestone in the French Second Empire style and is said to have been designed by famous 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 that the house is once again a residence in the King William ward.”

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

Named after King William I of Prussia by one of its first inhabitants, Ernest Altgelt, the area is made up of many large, impressive houses designed in Greek Revival, Victorian and Italian styles.

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

Owned by the 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.