Woodlawn Lake

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Woodlawn Lake Park has not always been Woodlawn Lake or a city park. In 1887 General W. Russ, F. H. Brown and W. P. Anderson acquired 1000 acres of land, which is now the lake and surrounding neighborhood and was known as "Maverick’s Pasture". Under the title of the West End Town Company these men began to develop what would become the first subdivision of this type outside the city limits of San Antonio.

A dam was constructed in 1889 across Alazan Creek to create an 80-acre lake, which was supplied by two artesian wells. Soil was excavated from what would become the casting pond to build the dam. Crosstown Street Railroad operated a trolley, which ran across the dam from Woodlawn Lake to Houston Street in downtown San Antonio. With the lake, trolley and a floating dance pavilion, West End soon became a pleasure resort destination.Woodlawn Lake

Tough financial times in 1894 resulted in the West End Town Company borrowing money from Julia Anderson and F. H. Baldwin. In time, the Company defaulted on the loans prompting a foreclosure on the property. Subsequently Ms. Anderson and Mr. Baldwin leased the lake and adjacent land to the Peacock School for Boys until 1910.

In 1918 Mr. Baldwin died leaving his portion of land to the University of Cincinnati. Ms. Anderson joined with the University in 1918 to relinquish ownership of the land to the City of San Antonio. By 1920 a group known as "The West End Improvement Club" begun to focus on revitalizing the area. One of the first actions the group took was to change the name to Woodlawn Lake. The Club constructed two comfort stations, built a playground, and planted 100 trees during its existence.

Mr. W. H. Suden leased the lake from 1915 to 1929. He provided rowboats for rent, showed free movies, ran a hotel, and built an island at Woodlawn Lake. In 1924 the City of San Antonio acquired five acres on the northeast side of the park for a playground. With the growing popularity of the park the citizens of San Antonio passed an $188,000 bond package in 1928 for the construction of the pool and community center. The city-owned community center and pool marked the last time Woodlawn Lake would be operated by privatized interest.Woodlawn Lake

Development of the surrounding neighborhood and construction of paved streets caused more drainage and silt to go into the lake. Several dredging projects have taken place to restore the lake depth. The WPA (Works Progress Administration) dredged the lake in the late 1930s. The Army Corps of Engineers dredged the lake in 1960. The current spillway and dam were built as part of the 1970 dredge project. During the 1981 project, the lake was drained for almost two years while the city coordinated efforts to dredge the lake to a depth of six feet. The jogging track was added at this time. In 2000 Woodlawn Lake was designated as a local historic district.

 

Information found in the Woodlawn Lake Park Conceptual Master Plan, Prepared for the San Antonio Parks & Recreation Department by Ford, Powell & Carson, Inc. February 1997.

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