Site of de la Garza House, Gardens and Mint

Location: 100 E Houston St at Soledad St., San Antonio, TX

Erected on this site in 1734 for prominent Bexar citizens Geronimo and Javiera Cantu de la Garza, the de la Garza family home was designed by Geronimo's brother-in-law Pedro Flores Valdez. The complex occupied an entire city block and was crafted with limestone and plaster walls three feet thick. Extensive gardens included cottonwood, pecan, fig and peach trees. The Spanish government granted the property to Javiera de la Garza in 1736 after her husband's death. Two generations later, Jose Antonio de la Garza used the home's vault to safeguard the valuables of local merchants. In 1818 the Spanish crown granted him permission to mint coins which became known as jolas, a Spanish slang term for small currency of local issue used in the northeastern provinces of New Spain. The jolas replaced scarce Spanish silver in the value of a half real, making the de la Garza home what was probably the first mint in Texas. During the Siege of Bexar in 1835, Ben Milam's troops engaged in a two-day battle to commandeer the fortress-like compound as their headquarters. Milam died in the struggle to take the city. After the siege possession of the home returned to the family, in whose control it remained for the rest of the century. Six months of demolition were required to bring down the de la Garza home in 1912. At that time a large sum of money was found hidden in the house and a sixteen-pound cannonball was discovered embedded in the walls, inscribing another page in the de la Garza chapter of San Antonio history. (1999)