Bexar County Girls Home was established on Walker Ranch when it was owned by Ganahl Walker, Sr. in 1919. What is now known as Walker Ranch Historic Landmark Park was home to several acres of ranch land for Bexar County Girls Home. The purpose for Bexar County Girls Home was to serve as a detention facility for delinquent girls between the ages of 11 through 17 years. (Ref: Bexar County Official Public Records - Real Estate, Document No. 916)
Plans for the new girls home called Henrietta Joske Memorial Home were announced by San Antonio Express in spring 1919. Henry T. Phelps helped develop plans. The plans were approved by order of the County Commissioners’ Court. The contract was drawn on a basis of cost plus 8% percent. (Ref: San Antonio Express, Plans Approved For Girls’ Home, March 18, 1919)
In April 1919, San Antonio Express announced Walsh & Burney won a bid for the construction of Henrietta Joske Memorial Home. Henrietta Joske Memorial Home was constructed by Walsh & Burney. The county donated a sum of $130,000. (Ref: San Antonio Express, Renditions Ready For Huth, April 9, 1919)
A contract was given to the San Antonio Public Service Corporation to install a lighting plant in the Henrietta Joske Memorial Home, at a cost of $1,720 at a meeting of the Commissioners' Court. (Ref: San Antonio Evening News, Page 10, October 9, 1919)
Remodels and additions were constructed in 1923 by Walsh & Burney as reported by Manufacturer’s Record. The Manufacturer’s Record of 1923 listed Bexar County Girls Home as “Henrietta Joske Memorial Home” and was located on what was then North Loop. Bexar County Girls Home had first went under the name of Henrietta Joske Memorial Home before changing to the current name. (Ref: Manufacturer’s Record, 1923)
On the date of December 2, 1926, a moss-covered fountain which was located in the patio of the county courthouse was sent to the Joske Memorial Home to make room for expansion. (Ref: https://www.mysapl.org/Events-News/News-Media-Center/News/ArtMID/17281/ArticleID/11945/Deember-2-in-San-Antonio-history)
Over the years, Bexar County Girls Home went under a plethora of several names such as Bexar County Girls School, Bexar County School for Girls, Bexar County Home for Girls, Bexar County Juvenile Girls Home, and Henrietta Joske Memorial Home.
Bexar County planned for Henrietta Joske Memorial Home to be a county juvenile training school for girls from the beginning. This girls home eventually transformed into a detention facility despite there never being a high demand for housing juvenile female delinquents.
According to a thesis titled DETENTION HOUSES AND REFORMATORIES AS PROTECTIVE SOCIAL AGENCIES,
“The spirit of the agreement with the Government was kept and Live Oak Farm was operated and maintained according to its terms until August 1, 1920, when the inmates were transferred to the city jail. It became known in November 1919 that the city had transferred its interest in the property to the county and that the original building would eventually be used as the administration building for a county juvenile training school for girls to be known as the Joske Memorial Home. The erection Of a new building about 100 feet away was commenced about that time. The county officials interviewed contend that they never intended to carry on the work of the institution as a detention hospital after the close of the war and that they know of no contract with the Government which bound them to such a plan.”
(Ref: DETENTION HOUSES AND REFORMATORIES AS PROTECTIVE SOCIAL AGENCIES, MARY MACEY DIETZLER, JUNE 1922)
In the middle of 1945, nine inmates of the Joske Memorial Home on North Loop Road were booked at county jail for staging a free-for-all fight to get better food. The girls demolished furniture and broke windows in their demonstration. Some inmates were drunk. (Ref: http://sanantonioremembers.blogspot.com/2009/11/november-21-in-san-antonio-history.html)
By the mid 1940s, the Bexar County Home for Girls had a small working farm as a part of their rehabilitation program. Inmates helped with various duties of the working farm. Despite having a working farm, the detention facility was not very big. The girls who lived there had long juvenile records being held on trial or were being held for county juvenile authorities.
An auxiliary unit was established for Bexar County School for Girls called Bexar County School for Girls Auxiliary. The group was organized in 1952 to provide service to the girls and to integrate the school to the community. Bexar County School for Girls Auxiliary was a domestic nonprofit corporation. Bexar County School for Girls Auxiliary was disestablished in 1972.
“Members of the Bexar County School for Girls Auxiliary furnished school supplies, dental care, eye care, clothes, religious training, hand crafts and transportation for the girls who lived there. The group promotes social activities through monthly coffees and luncheons and stimulates participation in club-sponsored welfare work which include both Air Force and community services. Each year a Christmas party is given for students at Stonewall Elementary School and support was given to Christmas Clearing Bureau Brooks Youth Center and the Air Force Village.” (Ref: San Antonio Express, Page 24, May 21, 1968)
Bexar County School for Girls Auxiliary provided many useful services for girls at the school. The auxiliary also hosted a picnic and a party. They also gave gifts to all the girls. The members of the auxiliary assisted with many activities at the school. They supervised the religious education of the students and see that each girl receives instruction in her faith
Mrs. Frank Jordan served as treasurer before being elected to the presidency of the Bexar County School for Girls Auxiliary. Geraldean Brown served a founding member and president of the Bexar County School for Girls Auxiliary. (Ref: https://porterloring.tributes.com/obituary/show/Geraldean-Brown-94304120)
In 1960, $8,350 worth of improvements were approved by the court for Bexar County School for Girls. It took months of decision making by commissioners to decide appropriate improvements. Shortly after, Bexar County School for Girls received $8,350 worth of improvements. (Ref: San Antonio Express, Page 12, December 17, 1960 )
San Antonio Express shed light on a controversial protest that took place on the date of October 15, 1961 in a news article.
Members of the Bexar County School for Girls Auxiliary protested administration of Bexar County School for Girls. This was because Judge John Onion moved the auxiliary be abolished. The Bexar County School for Girls accommodated four students with 10 employees to look after them. Judges have discussed leasing the school to the state while some have talked of closing it. Auxiliary members objected. This caused friction between the parties involved. So members of the Bexar County School for Girls Auxiliary began to form a protest.
Members of the Bexar County School for Girls Auxiliary wanted the detention facility to remain open to rehabilitate delinquent girls. Judge John Onion wanted the auxiliary and Bexar County School for Girls to be closed due to low population.
Most board members feel the ladies have overstepped their bounds. Judge John Onion called the women “busy-bodies” and “troublemakers”. Judges claim the women were becoming “too involved”. The auxiliary, a charter organization, was formed to help with the girls, providing clothing, and other services. Judges had resented the women barging in on other matters. During time in court, judges studied Onion's proposal to abolish the club. However the organization had been chartered as a domestic nonprofit corporation with the city.
Members of the Bexar County School for Girls Auxiliary also accused Chief Probation Officer Jim Lewis of freeing delinquent girls. They had demanded for his dismissal. However the judges say girl delinquents are scarce. (Ref: San Antonio Express, October 15, 1961)
By 1963, Bexar County Girls Home had their own school district called Bexar County School for Girls Independent School District. By then the facility expanded to include ages 12 through 21. Then the age limit grew to 23. (Ref: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Page 4, June 12, 1963)
The Directory of Catholic Special Facilities and Programs in the United States for Handicapped Children and Adults lists Bexar County Girls Home under the address of “Route 13, Box 292, San Antonio, Texas 78209” with Myrtle Bailey as the superintendent. (Ref: Directory of Catholic Special Facilities and Programs in the United States for Handicapped Children and Adults, 1965)
Bexar County Girls Home shut down in 1972 after Ganahl Walker, Jr sold much of the ranch property to a Dallas developer. Shortly after, the former site of Walker Ranch was added to the National Register of Historical Places.
Existing site structures including building foundations of the Walker Ranch and Bexar County Girls Home were demolished in 1997. The demolition process lasted from 1997 to May 10, 1999. The only remaining structure of Bexar County Girls Home is the Main Hall located more 20 feet from the public view of West Avenue. (Ref: https://www.sanantonio.gov/ParksAndRec/Parks-Facilities/All-Parks-Facilities/Parks-Facilities-Details/ArtMID/14820/ArticleID/2467/Walker-Ranch/Park/250)
Today the Bexar County Girls Home is now home to Walker Ranch Historic Landmark Park which is owned by City of San Antonio. Walker Ranch is now on National Register of Historical Places.
Bexar County Girls Home was located at 12603 West Avenue, San Antonio, Texas, US 78216. The original address for Bexar County Girls Home was Route 13, Box 292, San Antonio, Texas 78209.