Texas Escapes gives a fascinating account of the life of Dr. Aureliano Urrutia, the original owner of the property. Dr. Urrutia was involved in the highest levels of Mexican politics in the early 1900’s. In 1915 he fled to San Antonio with his wife and children. In 1917 he is said to have given General Frederick Funston the “evil eye” in the lobby of the St. Anthony Hotel. General Fuston died on the spot of a heart attack. Dr. Urrutia seems to have lived a peaceful life after this, establishing a successful medical practice downtown.
In June 1916, Dr. Urrutia purchased land on River Avenue (now Broadway) and built an elaborate home, Quinta Urrutia, for his large family. The Moorish-inspired house was built around a central courtyard and fountain. Photographs of the house are available at Forever Texas. The house was demolished in 1962.
In 1962 Dr. Urrutia, then 91 years old, sold Miraflores to United Services Automobile Association (USAA) for construction of their headquarters building. The property was sold to Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in 1974. From 1974 to 2001 the 4.5 acre area on the river at the back of the property was used for events by the local chapter of the Telephone Pioneers of America who named it Pioneer Park. During this period the Pioneers poured concrete picnic pads, constructed an open air pavilion for social events, and filled the garden’s pools to eliminate safety hazards.
In 2001 Southwestern Bell transferred the 4.5 acre park area to UIW. When UIW proposed turning the gardens into a parking lot the San Antonio Conservation Society got involved and worked to transfer ownership of the property to the City of San Antonio. The City took ownership of the property in 2005 and published an extensive 284-page Master Plan for Miraflores Park in 2007.
Miraflores Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The National Register application provides a detailed description of the Dionicio Rodriguez sculptures located on the property. According to the application Miraflores “remains as one of the most intact and concentrated groupings of Rodriguez sculptures in Texas, and it is believed to be his earliest work in the United States.”
The Master Plan describes a detailed plan to restore the artwork, plantings, pool, fountains and walkways to their original state. Visitors will be allowed to enjoy the gardens on foot during the day with plans for outdoor clasrooms and performance spaces.