Maraflores, San Antonio's 'Secret Garden' Finally Opening to the Public

For the first time ever, San Antonio's legendary Secret Garden is being opened to the public, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Like the ghost tracks and the haunted Menger Hotel, Miraflores has been a whispered about San Antonio legend for decades, with the added advantage of being real, and now, the Brackenridge Park Conservancy is putting the finishing touches on a plan to open it to the public, in pieces at first, and eventually the whole thing.

First the back story.  Dr. Aureliano Urrutia was the Interior Minister in the pre-revolutionary government of Mexico.  When the revolution of 1910 began, like many wealthy Mexicans with connections to the Porfirio Diaz regime, Urrutia was forced to leave Mexico, and he settled in San Antonio, among the first wave of Mexican immigrants who would eventually make major changes to what was then a largely German community.

Dr Urrutia purchased a 15 acre estate at what is now the corner of Broadway and Hildebrand, and he built a garden which was filled with artifacts which reminded him of his native Xochimilco and named it Miraflores.

Over the years, Urrutia increased on his private contemplative garden, adding major Mexican works of art, including concrete art objects which reflect important aspects of Mexican history, art, and culture, some of which are in the Smithsonian American Art Museum inventory of American sculpture.  Among his works were faux bois creations of Mexican artist Dioniclo Rodriguez, and a bench which is covered in tiles which are said to have been brought to Mexico by the 'conquistador' Hernan Cortez personally.

"This is a celebration of what remains of a very special outdoor sculpture garden," Lynn Osborne Bobbitt, executive director of the Brackenridge Park Conservancy tells 1200 WOAI news.

Dr. Urrutia died in 1962, and the garden remained in private hands until it was sold to the city in 2006 to become part of Brackenridge Park.  Many people have seen and puzzled over the northern edge of Miraflores, which can be spotted just as you approach Broadway on Hildebrand, on the opposite side from the University of the Incarnate Word, behind the AT&T building.

After more than a decade in city hands, and more than 90 years after Dr. Urrutia began work on Miraflores, Bobbit says a portion of the amazing garden is set to be opened to the public through guided tours only.

"The walkway will connect to Brackenridge Park, and we discovered historic brick pathways that are going to be recreated with the same brick," she said.

It will enable people to, for the first time, see some of the extensive collection of sculptures Dr. Urrutia was able to collect.  She says much of the garden is still too uneven for people to wader through on their own, but the hope is that eventually renovations will be made that will make individual tours possible

."The park is a representative of a mixture of cultures here, and representative of what an estate garden was in the 1920s."

She says eventually, Miraflores will become a 'contemplative garden' for the people of Dr. Urrutia's adopted city, and the place where he lived more than half of his eventful life, and to allow them to appreciate Mexican culture, just like the doctor intended.


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