The Lost Garden of Miraflores: San Antonio’s Gem of The Past

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Tony Maples Photography


Gardens can be magical places, telling stories and leading wandering feet to new discoveries in nature and art. San Antonio once had such a place, and the city is now struggling to preserve it after years of neglect and active destruction. Miraflores was conceived and executed by Dr. Aureliano Urrutia. Alamo City natives and eagle-eyed visitors may have seen the replica of “Winged Victory of Samothrace,” on Hildebrand near Broadway. Per legend, the statue was sent back by Houston port authorities three times because they thought the headless statue had been broken during delivery.

Dr. Aureliano Urrutia was a celebrated physician who worked diligently for 40 years to serve area citizens. In the medical world, he was recognized for his advances in surgery, including modernizing the environment of the operating room as well as designing innovative surgical tools. Arriving in San Antonio from Mexico in 1914, Urrutia evolved Miraflores between 1921 and 1930, with canals, pools, fountains, statues, and architectural features. Through world traveling, his appreciation of artistry styles grew, and subsequently, so did his garden. It was not unusual to find surprises around each corner. A tower library even graced the property! Urrutia was also a patron of Dionicio Rodriguez, whose works can still be found around San Antonio and the world.

The Lost Garden of Miraflores: San Antonio's Gem of The Past

Photo: @mjbjerre via Twenty20

When Dr. Aureliano Urrutia passed away in 1975 at the age of 103, his beloved Miraflores had become the property of the University of the Incarnate Word, and then in 2006, the City of San Antonio. Today, Miraflores is fenced and closed off from the public, but it can be viewed from beyond the barriers. As restoration will be considerably expensive, over the years, plans are often delayed and minimalized. One of the giant tiled entry markers can be seen at the San Antonio Museum of Art, but it too needs repair. A glimpse into Old San Antonio can still be had but not for much longer without dollars and focused efforts.