Take a tour of the Spanish Governor’s Palace, a National Historical Landmark constructed in the early to mid 1700s. The structure, restored in the 1930s, now has ten rooms with antique period pieces and beautifully landscaped courtyards.
The Legend of the Doors. The doors were carved in 1930 by Swiss woodcarver Peter Mansbendel (1883-1940), who later also carved the huge front doors at Mission San José.
Beginning at the top of the right-hand door and reading downward, the three seashells represent the three ships that crossed the ocean facing many dangers (represented by the dragons) in search of the infant country (baby face) we now call America. They brought their arms and shields for protection and found a land of flowers and resources such as gold, silver, and spices. They also found the Maya, Inca, and Aztec Empires (Native American face).
Moving to the bottom of the left-hand door and reading upward, we see the Spanish conquistadores who came to this land of paradise. With their weapons and shields they conquered all the dangers (dragons), including the many Indian tribes (medicine man mask), and returned to their homeland across the ocean (seashells).
1722 CAPTAIN’S OFFICE AND HOME
This one room served as the first home and office of the Captain of the Presidio. Some of the original adobe bricks can still be seen behind the glass frame in the north wall. In 1749 three more rooms were added and this became the family bedroom.
1749 LIVING AREA
The family would gather here in the evening for dinner and to entertain visitors. As with the first one-room house built in 1722, all cooking was done outside. The light fixtures here and throughout the museum were also installed during the 1930s restoration and are typical of the 1700s. The two fireplaces in the living area were installed in 1930 when the City of San Antonio restored the structure.
1930s CHILDREN’S BEDROOM
Added during the 1930s restoration, this small room was designated a children’s bedroom to support the idea that upper-class life during Spanish times in San Antonio had been sophisticated and luxurious. Typical in many bedrooms would be a prayer bench facing a small niche in the wall in which the inhabitant would place a statue of a favorite saint.
LATE 1700s DINING ROOM
The dining room, containing the only fireplace original to the home during the Spanish era, was added some time between 1763 and 1804, when the building was owned by Captain Luis Antonio Menchaca and his son José.
Attached kitchens were not typical during the 18th century because of the risk of catching the home on fire. This kitchen was added to the original structure as part of the 1930s restoration. It incorporates typical features and utensils of late Spanish Colonial kitchens.
The small room next to the kitchen and the loft above it were also added to the building during the 1930s and were interpreted as storage areas for garden vegetables and herbs.