Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Borglum House (Pump House #2)

Today's door leads into a structure mentioned in a previous post about the Upper Pump House.

In 1885 George W Brackenridge purchased land about a mile downstream from the Upper Pump House and built a second pump house. He felt the original plant was becoming insufficient to meet the growing demand for safe water in San Antonio.

The pump house looks out on the Brackenridge Park Golf Course which was built in 1915-1916. It is just a few steps from the current Club House built in 1923. (future post)

Today the building is known as the Borglum House. Gutzon Borglum  lived here while designing the models for the carvings for Mount Rushmore.  He had come to San Antonio in 1924 at the request of the Texas Trail Drivers Association who were hoping to have him complete a sculpture honoring the early trail drivers.  Borglum leased this property and spent $7,000 remodeling the abandoned building and adding the 650 square foot wooden addition.   The addition of skylights and the serene views of the golf course made the property an ideal artist's studio. 

When Borglum left the studio in 1937 he gave his key to the director of the Witte Museum.  The studio would be used by various artist groups until 1961.  By the late 1970's the building was in a sad state of neglect, including the collapse of the roof.  Friends of the Park came together to save the property and in 1981 it was added to the Register of Historic Places. The building was used for a few years as an architect office, but then fell into disrepair again.  In 2007 it was included in an extensive renovation of Brackenridge Park and the golf course. 

Today there are no signs of the raceway that moved the water upstream to the reservoir and probably few people realize this charming little building's original purpose. 

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