The last remains of a dream castle that never was completed – Comanche Hill, San Antonio

Comanche Hill is one of the tallest hills in Bexar County, and has always had an amazing view of the countryside all around. The Indians are supposed to have used it, to watch for herds of game moving around below. In the 1920s a retired Army officer bought the hill, and began building a replica of a Gothic castle, modeled after those he had seen in the Rhineland. He got as far as one tower – and maybe another, long fallen down – a range of stone buildings for garaging and sheds, and a foundation for the main house. Then his stonemason died, the retired officer died, and the stock market tanked … but this tower is still there. It’s a park now, where people walk their dogs on the weekend.

7 thoughts on “Tower”

  1. Reminds me a bit of the author Jack London’s (Call of the Wild) house – near Santa Rose CA. He had made some money as an author; was building his dream house – it caught fire just before he was going to move in.

    it too is a state park. You can still se the stone walls and foundations….

  2. You can see them here, too. In the 50s and 60s, the place was where teenagers used to sneak in, to smoke, drink and otherwise carry on in the ruins. Sometimes I think it was a pity that the builder just didn’t go balls-to-the-wall and finish the whole thing in grand Gothic style. It would have been beautiful, and a landmark visible for miles – with an absolutely wonderful view and landscaped gardens … but then, it would still remained a private mansion, most likely. And not open to the public.

  3. Fascinating as any human über-dream, but I can’t see any Gothic element in that tower: the windows are rectangular and the battlements similar to any Guelph or Ghibelline building. Perhaps the Gothic parts are those fallen down and, as in historical castles, the retired Army officer had a juxtaposition of styles in mind?

  4. It almost looks like Blarney Castle. Somewhere I have a picture of me kissing the Blarney stone.

    Jack London’s house is a bit of a hike that I doubt I could do today. I took some friends from England there a few years ago. I think I referred to that trip in talking about the Central Valley and its devastation today. Anyway, they didn’t know who he was so we gave them a postgraduate course on Jack London. My son knows his history as an oyster pirate in SF Bay. The authorities finally made him the local constable. Sort of “To catch a thief…. His favorite bar is still there in Oakland but the floor is all slanted from the 1906 earthquake. His house where he died of appendicitis is still there. The ruins of “Wolf’s Lair”, also the name of Hitler’s headquarters (“Wolfsblut”), are quite impressive. Quite a walk, though.

    We gave them copies of some of his books when they left to go back to England.

  5. I think so, Sejo – about the juxtaposition. The whole thing may have been just a make-it-up as you go folly. Supposedly, he was trying to build something after a castle on the Rhine. But around here, something more like a stucco and Spanish tile improvisation after the Alhambra might have been a bit more workable, and closer in local style.

  6. Michael – I thought his boat – the Snark – a sleek sailboat – was still in Oakland but according to a Google Search (Google seems to know all) – it is gone but the way it disappeared is apparently a mystery.

    Still remember The Call of The Wild a story of Buck – a domesticated dog who has to survive in the Alaska’s wilderness during the gold rush.

    Can’t believe your English friends never heard of Jack London. But I guess among authors he is in the tier below “world famous”?

    I think – like Hemingway – London was a “man’s man”.

    Sgt – seeing that tower also reminded me of a FL landmark – in Lake Wales (just 40 minutes or so south of Orlando). My aunt & uncle used to have a home there.

    It is the Bok Tower on Florida’s highest ground (all of 800 feet).

    Like the Will Rogers memorial in Colorado Springs it has a chime that goes regularly and could be heard for quite a distance. When I would visit them it became a part of Lake Wales (like The Springs and the Will Rogers memorial, I guess)

  7. Bill – No real mystery, it “softly and suddenly vanish away, and never be met with again.”

    I’ve always wanted to build a castle, stone block is really expensive up here though, might have to settle for concrete. All the concrete plants around town make big blocks (roughly 4’x2’x2′) that look like giant two post Lego blocks. I think they actually mostly make them to use up the odd 1/4 truck of mud here and there.

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