Hughes House at Tobin Hill in San Antonio Saved from Demolition by Chief Weissman, Investor Chu | San Antonio News | San Antonio

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San Antonio Heron / Ben Olivo

May Chu (left) and Andrew Weissman leave the Hughes house in Tobin Hill, which business partners bought on Wednesday.

Hughes’ circa 1913 home in Tobin Hill, which was once on the way to demolition, was bought by chef Andrew Weissman and a curator named May Chu, who plan to convert the first floor into a wine and cheese bar in the course of this period. year.

The previous owner, the Archdiocese of San Antonio, had proposed demolishing the house, 312 W. Courtland Place, which for decades had served as a Catholic student center for nearby San Antonio College. After learning of the demolition request made to the city last year, the Conservation Society of San Antonio, members of the Tobin Hill Community Association and other conservationists launched a public awareness campaign to try to slow down the process. It worked, and their efforts led to the purchase this week by Weissman and Chu, who met just a month ago through the company.

Chu and Weissman said they were both spurred into action by the prospect of the structure being razed and by the Conservation Society’s efforts to save the childhood home of Russell Hughes, who later became a famous dancer. in the 1920s and 1930s under the stage name “La Meri.

Click to enlarge Weissman and Chu speak to conservationists at the Hughes' home on Friday morning.  - SAN ANTONIO HERON / BEN OLIVO

San Antonio Heron / Ben Olivo

Weissman and Chu speak to conservationists at the Hughes’ home on Friday morning.

The house has four fireplaces, as well as two upper floors and a basement.

“At this point we will preserve the house, fix the issues that need to be fixed, and then create an expanded wine and cheese bar where it could almost be a community gathering space for Monte Vista and Tobin Hill and surrounding areas,” said Weissman, a James Beard Award-nominated chef. “And with what’s happening across the street, I think that will mesh pretty well.”

[Check out the San Antonio Current‘s slideshow of the Hughes home.]

The Hughes House sits across from the 120-year-old Koehler House, which Weston Urban had planned to buy from San Antonio College and convert into a hotel with restaurant, though it’s unclear whether that deal has been concluded. The three-story mansion was built in 1901 by Otto Koehler, president of the Pearl Brewing Company.

Chu and Weissman, who have chosen not to disclose the purchase price, will likely incorporate the porch and front yard as part of the wine and cheese bar. Weissman said a wine and cheese concept makes the most sense for the home because a kitchen isn’t necessary. “We want to be true to home,” he said. They said they don’t have any plans for the basement or the top two floors yet.

Click to enlarge Another of the Hughes house fireplaces.  - SAN ANTONIO HERON / BEN OLIVO

San Antonio Heron / Ben Olivo

Another of the Hughes house fireplaces.

Weissman and Chu will need to get a waiver from the city to sell alcohol because of its proximity to Temple Beth El, where Great Hearts Monte Vista South students go to school during the week. It will also need to be rezoned.

Chu learned about the impending demolition from a blog post written by Vincent Michael, executive director of the Conservation Society, about the Hughes. Next, Chu contacted Michael who put her in touch with Weissman, who had also expressed interest in buying the house.

During a gathering at the house on Friday morning, Chu suggested that the upper floors could be used as space for lectures on the preservation of old houses. The rest of the house has plenty of possibilities, Chu said.

“We’re open to ideas,” said Chu, who lives in San Antonio and also runs a building inspection company in New York. “Nothing concrete, yet.”

Vincent said the Hughes House is a classic example of the community coming together to save a dying building of historic significance.

“We kept saying, ‘Test it in the market. Put it on the market and see if anyone wants to buy it and restore it,” Michael recalled, telling the Archdiocese of San Antonio. “And, of course, we helped identify some people who wanted to buy it and restore it, and now we’re here.”

Click to enlarge One of four fireplaces inside the Hughes House.  - SAN ANTONIO HERON / BEN OLIVO

San Antonio Heron / Ben Olivo

One of four fireplaces inside the Hughes House.

Click to enlarge Conservationists take photos of Weissman and Chu.  - SAN ANTONIO HERON / BEN OLIVO

San Antonio Heron / Ben Olivo

Conservationists take photos of Weissman and Chu.

Click to enlarge The front room of the Hughes houses.  - SAN ANTONIO HERON / BEN OLIVO

San Antonio Heron / Ben Olivo

The front room of the Hughes houses.

Click to enlarge Another room inside the Hughes house.  - SAN ANTONIO HERON / BEN OLIVO

San Antonio Heron / Ben Olivo

Another room inside the Hughes house.

A biography of

San Antonio Heron / Ben Olivo

A biography of “La Meri”, the stage name of famous dancer Russell Hughes, who grew up in the house, sits on a coat.

Click to enlarge Frederica Kusher, chair of the Tobin Hill Community Association's Historic Preservation Committee, checks one of the house's sliding doors.  - SAN ANTONIO HERON / BEN OLIVO

San Antonio Heron / Ben Olivo

Frederica Kusher, chair of the Tobin Hill Community Association’s Historic Preservation Committee, checks one of the house’s sliding doors.

Heron Editor Ben Olivo has been writing about downtown San Antonio since 2008, first for mySA.com and then for the San Antonio Express-News. He co-founded the Heron in 2018 and can be reached at (210) 421-3932 | [email protected] | @rbolivo on Twitter

This story was originally published by the San Antonio Heron, a Non-profit news organization dedicated to informing its readers about changes in downtown and surrounding communities.

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