Archaeological Monitoring along North St. Mary's Street, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas
In January 2021, the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) conducted archaeological monitoring for the North Saint Mary’s Street Improvements Project in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. This work was in response to a request from the City of San Antonio (COSA) Public Works Department (PWD). The project entailed monitoring excavations for utility improvements along North St. Mary’s Street from East Dewey Place to north of East Ashby Place. Archival maps suggested that this area of North St. Mary’s Street could intersect with the Upper Labor Acequia (41BX1273), the last Spanish Colonial acequia to be built in San Antonio. The Upper Labor Acequia has been recommended as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and as a State Antiquities Landmark (SAL). San Antonio’s acequia system has also been recognized as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. As public land owned by the COSA, a political subdivision of the State of Texas, the project falls under Article VI, Sec. 35-630 to 35-634, of COSA’s Unified Development Code (UDC). The project is also governed by the Texas Antiquities Code, and the work was performed under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 30061.
The initial monitoring area was 1.35 ha (3.33 acres) and excavation within this area began on April 1, 2021. After portions of the Upper Labor Acequia were found on the west side of North St. Mary’s Street during the excavation for the new gas lines, the monitoring area was revised by the COSA’s Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) to an area along North St. Mary’s Street between East Courtland Place and East Ashby Place, to include parts of Terry Court. The revised monitoring area was 0.46 ha (1.15 acres). A permit amendment specifying that revision was approved by the Texas Historical Commission (THC) on June 3, 2021. In July 2022, CAR was contracted to provide additional archaeological monitoring within the monitoring area for the installation of electrical conduit, light poles, irrigation lines, and landscaping. Archaeological monitoring was completed on July 10, 2023. Dr. Raymond P. Mauldin served as Principal Investigator for the THC antiquities permit until his retirement in January 2022, at which time David Yelacic assumed this role. Cynthia Munoz took over in September 2023 after David Yelacic left the CAR. Peggy Wall served as the Project Archaeologist throughout the project.
CAR monitored 0.9 km of excavations. The area monitored encompassed at least 0.17 ha (0.42 acres). Remnants of the Upper Labor Acequia were found on the west side of North St. Mary’s Street between East Courtland Place and East Ashby Place, and in the intersection of East Ashby Place and North St. Mary’s Street. CAR recommends that these remnants of the Upper Labor Acequia, site 41BX1273, are eligible for inclusion into the NRHP and as a SAL, as they were preserved in situ. The CAR also recommends that any future subsurface excavations near these features be monitored by archaeologists to ensure preservation of these acequia sections and to further delineate the full extent of the Upper Labor Acequia in this area. After quantification and in accordance with guidelines and approvals from the THC and the COSA, artifacts possessing little scientific value were discarded. In this case, that consisted of all artifacts. In accordance with THC guidelines, all project generated and related documents have been curated at the CAR under accession number 2791.