South Texas Destinations: Denman Estate Park, San Antonio, Texas

I think I’m done with downtown destinations (though I reserve the right to revisit downtown at any time in the future).  I should probably start to write up some of the parks that I’ve visited in the last few years.  I guess I’ll start with the park that I visited on Saturday, April 23, Denman Estate Park.

Gilbert M. Denman, Jr. was an attorney and philanthropist who lived in San Antonio.  Denman donated many Egyptian, Greek, and Roman artifacts to the San Antonio Museum of Art (review to follow).  When Denman died in 2004 at the age of 83, his only heirs were two cousins, and so the executors of his estate broke his real estate into two parcels and sold one to the City of San Antonio and the other (which contained the structures on the property) to the University of the Incarnate Word.  The 12.52 acre parcel that belongs to the city has become Denman Estate Park.

When you arrive at Denman Estate Park, the first thing you notice is Denman’s mansion.  This is now owned by the University of the Incarnate Word and you can photograph it, but it is private property and there are signs saying that trespassers will be prosecuted.

As you travel down the 0.36-mile path, there will be a labyrinth on your right-hand side.  I like to walk the labyrinth when I visit.  After the labyrinth, the path goes around a pond.  On the far side of the pond is a pavilion donated to the park by the city of Gwangju, South Korea.  The pavilion was built in Korea and then disassembled, shipped to the United States, and reassembled by the artisans who built the pavilion.  There are signs saying that people should stay off of the pavilion.  A friend who works in the construction industry says that the pavilion was built with traditional methods.  There is not a single nail in the whole thing.  This means that it is probably not going to fall down if you go up in it, but it also doesn’t comply with San Antonio municipal building codes and thus is unfit for human occupancy in the city.  Also, keeping people out of it will keep it looking as nice as it can for as long as it can.  So just admire it from the ground and don’t go up in it.

Denman Estate Park Pavilion, San Antonio
The Gwangju Pavilion from the far side of the pond, Denman Estate Park, San Antonio, Texas

There is another branch of the path that passes down through a wooded area behind the pavilion.  I think I’ve only been down that path once or twice, and it’s a very nice, shady walk.

In front of the house is a statue of a mermaid labeled “AMA MARIA ” and with a set of coordinates.  In Spanish, “Ama” is “he, she, or it loves,” so I assumed that the name is in Spanish.  It isn’t.  The statue is part of a charity art project to raise awareness of the state of the world’s oceans.  The explanation for the “AMA” name is that this is the title used for female pearl divers in Japan and Korea.  It looks like there are nine of them in existence, and the website tells how to purchase one, if you have €15,000 plus tax (and shipping if you live outside of Europe) burning a hole in your pocket.  AMA Maria belongs to the University of the Incarnate Word, but she is on the park side of the house.  I’m not sure if she’s on private property or not.

Denman Estate Park is a nice little park to visit if you happen to be in the neighborhood or if you have half an hour or so to spare.  The main path is labeled Level 1, so it is wheelchair accessible.  The path behind the pavilion is unlabeled, but it seemed to be no higher than Level 2 to me.  There are some waterfowl in the park.  The Sebastapol geese seem to be the most aggressive of them, and I’ve never had them do more than hiss at me.  If you happen to have any ornithophobes in your group, you may want to be cautious on your visit.

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