Tuesday, November 26, 2019

History of the Bexar County Home for the Aged explored and explained.

Not too much history of the Bexar County Home for the Aged has been documented or explored. So much history about this place seems to have been forgotten. The history of Bexar County Home for the Aged is short of nothing too compelling. This news article will explain the history behind Bexar County Home for the Aged. The property was never an insane asylum or mental hospital as many people would have you believe.

On November 21, 1849, the County Commissioners Court passed an order making it the duty of the court to support and bury indigents of the county. The county and city were to maintain and bury their paupers.  Methods were mapped out on how to take care of the poor and the aged in San Antonio in February 1854. This led to the establishment of Bexar County Poor Farm. Home for the Aged was located on the same property. (Ref: San Antonio Express, Welfare Problems Given Different Treatment in Past, Page 108, August 3, 1969)

Bexar County Home for the Aged was established on Farm Road off of Southton Road in San Antonio, Texas in 1857. County officials established Bexar County Home for the Aged for the purpose of housing the aged. (Ref: Bexar County Official Public Records - Real Estate, Volume 2427, Page 442)

Their facility was a 3 story wooden structure with a basement built in 1856 and opened in 1857. Small one room structures were used for tuberculosis patients. The rooms were small and isolated from the other charges along with everyone else. Residents who were healthy and able were expected to work on the property.

Albert Huppertz was the attending physician and druggist for Bexar County Poor Farm and Home For The Aged during the 1890s. (Ref: https://txbexar.eppygen.org/Records/Re_CD_1891_H.htm)

In 1914, 110 acres worth of land were purchased from H. C. Feldman and Cheryl Neese for the sum of $12,932.40 dollars. An additional 10 acres were purchased for staff housing on the end of Farm Road for more than $1,000 dollars. (Ref: Bexar County Official Public Records - Real Estate, Deed No. 69676)

HFTA replaced the dilapidated wooden structure with a beautiful Colonial style building. The wooden structure served as a hospital facility during the pre-Civil War era during the same year. The new facility was a Colonial style building on beautiful grounds in spite of politics and the dark history surrounding the property. (Ref: https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth399351/m1/1/zoom/?q=southton&resolution=2&lat=2905.5&lon=2217)

Bexar County Poor Farm and Home for the Aged had a cemetery located north of their buildings. A cemetery was plotted on their property near Salado Creek. All the paupers and indigents in the area were placed on this land outside of the city. Today the cemetery is now gone. So are the fence and markers. (Ref: https://www.uer.ca/locations/show.asp?locid=23427)

However Home for the Aged had a number of problems. Complaints of poor care of the residents and lack of food were a common problem. Staff were eating well and the charges were not. Mistreatment of charges often went unreported.

Over the course of several years, several hospitals, detention facilities, and schools were located on the same property. They are as follows: Southton Sanatorium, Home For The Aged, Bexar County Boys Home, Bexar County Girls Home, Bexar County Poor House, Southton Convalescent Home, Southton Boys Home, Bexar County Home for Boys, Bexar County Home for Girls, Bexar County Boys School, Bexar County Girls School, Southton Home for Boys, Southton Tuberculosis Hospital, and Bexar County Convalescent Sanatorium. The reason for this is because the county believed it would be easier to keep all the 'undesireables' in one location.

When Bexar County Home for the Aged closed in 1968, the people who had lived there had no other place to go. Many were dispersed to nursing homes, halfway houses, and to the medical center at Robert B. Green Hospital (then Bexar County Hospital). (Ref: https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/48916250/)

University of Texas - San Antonio had announced plans on reusing the old Bexar County Poor Farm property as a college campus. The old Home For The Aged building would serve as an administration building for the college campus. (Ref: San Antonio Express, Casseb Heads Jail Committee, Thursday, August 21, 1969)

Home for the Aged was used as a tuberculosis hospital for a short period of time. However those plans never came to fruition as newer facilities were built elsewhere inside the city of San Antonio. A portion of the land was deeded to the Bexar County Hospital District as a temporary home for Southton Convalescent Home. Southton Convalescent Home used the old Home For The Aged building as temporary housing for patients which lasted until 1972. (Ref: San Antonio Express, Page 54, September 12, 1969)

The main building was abandoned yet again in 1972. By 1973, people began using the building for satanic rituals and criminal activities. Graffiti soon covered the exteriors and interiors of the main building.

The property had sat abandoned for decades before being repurposed. The property was soon taken over by nature and greenery. The property was reported as still abandoned in 1996. Reasons as to why have never been made public. (Ref: http://scribol.com/anthropology-and-history/urban-exploration/19th-century-insane-asylum-abandoned-creepy-haunted/)

People already have been arrested and charged for trespassing onto the property over the years. The property is now off limits.

In 2011, the former property of Bexar County Home for the Aged was repurposed as the Bexar County Police Training Facility. It is now home to a shooting range owned by Bexar County (Bexar County Police). The 3 story building is used for SWAT tactical training. The land is managed by Bexar County Public Works. (Ref: http://www.mesquite-news.com/southside-haunts-to-visit-this-halloween/)

Bexar County Home for the Aged was located at 3680 Farm Road, San Antonio, Texas, US 78223.

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