History

Hygieostatic Bat Roost in Comfort, Texas

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In Kendall County, on RM 473 in Comfort, Texas, you can catch a glimpse of historical “thinking outside the box.” In an effort to control the mosquito population and the resulting increase in malaria, a Hygieostatic Bat Roost was constructed in 1918 by former San Antonio Mayor Pro Tem Albert Steves, who had commissioned San Antonio health officer Dr. Charles A. R. Campbell to design the structure. Standing 30 feet high, the roost is pier and beam footing, with shingles forming a pyramid shape. Only one dormer serves as a bat entrance; the others are ornamental.

Bat

Photo: Honky Tonk Foodie

In addition to reducing disease in the area, the design of the roost allowed for the collection of guano. The bottom is raised seven feet off the ground, which permitted wagon traffic below. Among other uses, bat guano was used to make gunpowder in the United States well into the 20th century.

Wikipedia writes that Dr. Campbell “patented his bat roost design and erected several of them in the San Antonio area beginning in 1907. When the bat roost was built on his Kendall County property, Steves coined the name Hygieostatic Bat Roost based on the Greek words hygiea (health) and stasis (standing). The descendants of Albert Steves still own the property where the tower is located. It was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1981. In 1983, the roost was added to the National Register of Historic Places.” Please note this structure is on private property. It is visible from the road.

This one didnt work as well

Photo: Honky Tonk Foodie

Texas is home to 33 species of bats. Dr. Campbell’s design was used to create 14 original hygieostatic bat roosts worldwide. Two others are still standing in the United States, one in Sugarloaf Key, FL (shown above) and Orange, TX.

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