Ernst Altgelt House


226 King William StREET

This simple two-story limestone residence was built in 1878 for Ernst Altgelt, who moved here in 1866 from the Hill Country town of Comfort, which he helped establish. Altgelt’s earlier house, a modest structure immediately to the south, is said to have been the first house on the street, affording him the honor of naming the thoroughfare, he christened it in honor of Kaiser Wilhelm I of Prussia. The street elevation is undecorated, except for the arched entry, while the side is dominated by a two-story gallery with outside stairway. It is the only remaining neighborhood example of this once common feature. The tall limestone wall separating the house is a mid-twentieth century addition.

‘San Antonio Architecture, Traditions and Visions’, AIA San Antonio, 2007

The Altgelt / Schleuning / Isbell House is oriented with the gable-end facing the street, which causes the full-length double porch to be on the west façade. According to the HABS (Historic American Buildings Survey), ‘this house is an excellent example of restrained Victorian. Although built in the Victorian period, much of the architecture has Classic Influence’. The limestone walls are 16” thick.

Ernst Altgelt migrated to the United States from Germany, established the town of Comfort, Texas, and then moved to San Antonio in 1866 and set up a law practice. He commissioned the building of this house in 1876 but died in 1878 just before it was completed. We know Ed Steves furnished the construction material because he filed a mechanic’s lien against the property.

In 1882 Emma Altgelt sold the house to Theodore Schleuning, dealer in groceries, provisions and wines, whose business was located on the west side of Alamo Plaza. After he died around 1898, his widow, Bertha, continued to live here until 1932. Louis Schleuning, their youngest son, occupied the house for four or five years after that. Mrs. Schleuning’s granddaughter, a Mrs. Martin, inherited the property, and it was rented to Mr. and Mrs. Peter Petraitis as a home and music studio until about 1942.

In 1944 Mr. and Mrs. George Isbell purchased the house from the Martins and during their time here erected the limestone wall. The grandchildren of Mr. and Mrs. Isbell now own the property and the linden tree Mary wrote about still stands at the southwest corner of the porch.

‘The King William Area, A History and Guide to the Houses’, Mary V. Burkholder and Jessie N.M. Simpson; published by the King William Association, 2017