Archaeological Monitoring and Limited Testing for Recent Development in Hemisfair Park, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas




Zapata, José E.
Figueroa, Antonia L.
Smith, C. Stephen
McKenzie, Clinton M. M.

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Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio


In response to a request from the City of San Antonio (COSA), and under contract with Poznecki-Camarillo, Inc. (PCI) and Adams Environmental, Inc., the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) of The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) conducted archaeological monitoring and limited testing for three redevelopment projects at Hemisfair Park between January 2015 and February 2017. These investigations followed monitoring and test excavations previously conducted by Prewitt and Associates in 2014 and an extensive archival report from 2013 (Dase 2013; Fields and Dase 2014; Fields et al. 2015). The project area intersects or is adjacent to four historic districts or proposed historic districts. The La Villita Historic District and Lavaca Historic District are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and the River Walk Historic District is eligible for the NRHP. The HemisFair ’68 Historic District was recently recommended as eligible for the NRHP (Dase 2013:65). All four are also local historic districts. Archaeological services were in response to a request for full-time monitoring of subsurface excavations with the potential to impact significant archaeological resources within the project area. Given the project area is primarily COSA-owned property, the project fell under the COSA Unified Development Code (Article 6 35-630 to 35-634). The project also required regulatory review by the Texas Historical Commission (THC) under the Antiquities Code of Texas. Work was conducted under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 7118. Dr. Raymond Mauldin was Principal Investigator until July 2015, when Dr. Paul Shawn Marceaux took over the role. Stephen Smith, Antonia Figueroa, and José Zapata served as Project Archaeologists. The work covered in this report involved three related subprojects: Yanaguana Garden, Historic Homes, and Internal Streets. The project area was originally part of the Labores de Valero, or the farmlands of Mission San Antonio de Valero. Some 250 years later, the area was the setting for the San Antonio World’s Fair, commonly known as HemisFair or HemisFair ’68. The earliest archaeological evidence identified during these investigations was the Spanish Colonial Acequia Madre de Valero (41BX8), also known as the Acequia del Alamo, the irrigation canal that provided water for the mission pueblo farmlands. CAR staff also documented features associated with early residences constructed in the 1850s, as well as structural remnants and features related to later nineteenth- and twentieth-century occupations. Work on the different subprojects often occurred concurrently, and archaeologists documented numerous historic-period features within the 8.8-acre Area of Potential Effect (APE). CAR staff revisited several previously recorded sites and recorded three new historic home sites (41BX2123, 41BX2124, and 41BX2246). CAR recommends none of the newly recorded sites are eligible for listing on the NRHP or as a State Antiquities Landmark (SAL). The most significant result was the location of extant parts of the Acequia Madre de Valero (41BX8), along the north and south end of the project area. CAR recommends these existing sections of the Acequia Madre de Valero (41BX8) are eligible to the NRHP and as a SAL. Wide-ranging past development projects and construction activities have disturbed and/or caused substantial impacts across the project area. However, current work demonstrated that some undisturbed areas with intact archaeological features remain. Importantly, significant cultural resources persist at depths of less than 12 inches (in.) below the surface. CAR recommends avoiding ground disturbance in undisturbed areas and in the areas with known historic resources. This is especially true along the path of the acequia, which is now clearly marked by paving stones at the south end. If ground disturbance is unavoidable, then CAR recommends monitoring excavations or a comprehensive systematic effort to recover significant data. All records generated during the project were prepared in accordance with federal regulations 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 79 and THC requirements for State Held-in-Trust collections. In consultation with the THC, subsequent to proper analyses and/or quantification, artifacts possessing little scientific value will be discarded pursuant to Chapter 26.27 (g)(2) of the Antiquities Code of Texas.



archaeological investigation, archaeology, Texas archaeology, archaeological surveying, excavations, Bexar County, San Antonio, Hemisfair Park