By Riley Stephens
Students may pass by a state and national landmark every day without knowing.
Two are within the boundaries of this college: Koehler Cultural Center at 310 W. Ashby Place and the L. B. Clegg House at 123 W. Park Ave. Koehler received its landmark status in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and the L.B. Clegg House in 1929.
The register is a division of the National Park Service, which records historical sites.
Bob Brinkman, coordinator of historical markers at the Texas Historical Commission, said to earn landmark status, the property owner must be notified, and it’s usually the property owner or the county historical commission who files an application for the recognition.
“The application has to go through the county historical commission,” he said.
“Before a landmark can be considered, the building must be at least 50 years old and must have historic or architecturalsignificance for that period, and it has to show architectural significance today,” he said.
Koehler was willed to the college in 1961 and renamed Koehler Cultural Center. It was built by Otto Koehler, a former president of Pearl Brewing Co. The college assumed ownership in 1973 after his widow, Marcia Koehler, moved out.
The home is a showpiece in the Monte Visa Historical Association, which stretches from Ashby at the northern boundary of the campus to Hildebrand and from Kings Court at the north end to McCullough Avenue.
On the north end of campus is the Koehler, a three-story Victorian- style mansion of 12,655-square feet. A black iron fence surrounds the grounds, which cover a city block between Lewis Street and Belknap Place and West Ashby and West Courtland places.
The deed to Koehler belongs to Alamo Colleges, but the mansion is considered part of this college, which manages it.
Dr. Robert Zeigler, former president of this college, said the deed to the house and property may read it is for the use of S. A. Union Junior College District because that is what the district was named in 1961. It wasn’t until 1982, the district governing this college and St. Philip’s College was renamed Alamo Community College District.
“Any property deed would have been reverted to the name of the district and then given to the campus closest to the property,” he said. “We manage it, but it still belongs to the district.”
The property includes a greenhouse and a carriage house where the college offers ceramics classes. The house is open to students by appointment for tours and often is used for social gatherings for college faculty, staff and students.
Koehler can be rented for parties and weddings.
Across campus near the southeast corner but within the college’s footprint is the L. B. Clegg House, built in 1902 by architect Harvey Page for Luther Bynum Clegg, who opened the first San Antonio Printing Co. in 1896. It later was named for L.B. Clegg.
It resides in the Tobin Hill Neighborhood Association. Since 1951, as this college has grown and added buildings, the Clegg House first lost its neighbors and eventually stood alone, surrounded on four sides by college parking lots. More recent growth has been vertical.
The house sits between the college’s five-story parking garage and the four-story Tobin lofts, Phase 2. To the east is the district police department, and to the west the four-story nursing complex.
David Mrizek, Vice President of college services, said the area of Tobin Hill goes north on San Pedro to Myrtle and from Myrtle across to U.S. Highway 281, then 281 south to I-35 and I-35 to San Pedro.
According to Bexar County Appraisal District, the Clegg House is 6,478 square feet, and the property is just over a half acre.
Information filed in the national registry describes the house as Spanish-American style exterior walls of stucco and a servants’ quarters on the northwest side.
That portion of the property had a green felt roof while the main two-story building features asbestos shingles. Today, it features a standing-seam metal roof.
Mrizek describes the Clegg House as somewhat in disrepair with lots of cracks and in definite need of preventative and regular maintenance. He said there are lots of palm trees and overgrown plants in the front that block use of the sidewalk.
Current resident Richard Bustamante says the house looks better on the inside than the outside and it has been hard to maintain the upkeep of the house over the years.
A 1980 Ranger article titled “Haven resists asphalt squeeze” reported Dr. Jerome Weynand, then president of the district, said if the district acquired the house, he would love to see it preserved.
“We have been reluctant to talk to anybody about the house because the college has tried to purchase the property in the past,” Belinda Bustamante Hennings, the current owner, said.
A quarter century later, the Clegg House is more squeezed by the college than ever, though the occupants should not worry about the district trying to acquire the property.
Zeigler said this college already has one landmark to take care of and isn’t looking for another.