Last Saturday, on Feb. 25, Jose Antonio Navarro’s 222 birthday and National Historic Landmark Designation Celebration took place at 228 South Laredo Street.
Over 150 people turned out for the celebration in the cool of the morning to hear a number of speakers laud the celebration. Proclamations were read by various speakers to include former County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson on behalf of the current Commissioner’s Court that includes Commissioners Paul Elizondo, Sergio Rodriguez, Tommy Calvert, Kevin Wolff and County Judge Nelson Wolff.
Other speakers included MaryEllen Veliz, a Congressman Lloyd Doggett staffer, who read his remarks to the crowd. Also addressing the crowd were Georgia Ruiz Davis, site manager of Casa Navarro State Historic Site; Sylvia Navarro Tillotson, Navarro’s great-great-great granddaughter and President Emerita of Friends of Casa Navarro; Mark Wolfe, executive director of Friends of Casa Navarro; Senator Jose Menendez; and Susan Snow, archaeologist at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.
The complex on South Laredo Street was the home of Jose Antonio Navarro where he lived for many years. The National Park Service very recently designated the Historical Commission’s Casa Navarro State Historic Site as a National Historic Landmark.
Casa Navarro was deemed nationally significant as the home of Tejano statesman and historian Jose Antonio Navarro (1795-1871). While Navarro was born under Spanish colonial rule in San Antonio, Navarro’s life and career spanned four sovereign nations: Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas and the United States.
Navarro was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, a writer of the Texas State Constitution and the namesake of Navarro County. He is acknowledged as a champion of civil rights for Hispanics.
Navarro was considered a Texas statesman, revolutionary, rancher and merchant. The son of Ángel Navarro and Josefa María Ruiz y Peña, he was born into a distinguished noble family.
During the hour long program, I was able to quietly move around and take numerous photos of those in attendance for my photo blog, www.walkerreport.net. I have had the privilege over the years of taking photos of visitors during previous celebrations of Jose Navarro events at the complex.
Many people visit the site to see where Navarro lived and wrote his manuscripts. Numerous portraits and photos adorn the walls of Navarro’s home.
While I was there last week, I met a man named Rodolpho Garcia, who was in one of the many black and white photos on the walls. Casa Navarro was established in February in 1960. Garcia pointed out a photo of him, his brother, mother and numerous others who posed for a group portrait in front of the main building on Feb. 27, 1960. He was six at the time and his brother was four posing in the front row of the photo. I was in eighth grade at St. Gregory’s Catholic School in Balcones Heights at the time Garcia posed for that photo!
Casa Navarro is now the ninth officially designated National Historic Landmark Designation in San Antonio, along with those that include the Alamo and the Missions.
With Casa Navarro as the newest landmark designation in San Antonio, the Alamo City has added to its rich heritage and unique history that will attract not only tourists, but people wishing to live here and be a part of all that San Antonio has to offer.
And as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”
Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and former Justice of the Peace and Journalist.