Last week, at long last, the Villa Finale Visitor Center opened to the public with great fanfare – both natural and manmade! Nearly 300 friends and neighbors turned out to visit, explore our exhibits, and check out the Museum Shop during our opening celebration. We began with a very touching dedication ceremony featuring remarks from a niece of Walter Mathis’s, as well as Jim Vaughan, the Vice President of Historic Sites for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Phil Hardberger, the former mayor of San Antonio. All knew Mr. Mathis and remarked on how proud he would have been to see his dream of a museum beginning to come true.
Following the ceremony, the guests were treated to wonderful food from the Liberty Bar, beer donated Eugene Simor of Alamo Beer, and an excellent selection of wine generously provided by Charles Butt of HEB. King William neighbors joined us as part of their quarterly social, and I think many of them were excited to learn more about their neighborhood and see objects they had loaned to us for the exhibits.
You’ll see additional blog entries about the exhibits and shop shortly, but in the meantime, if you’re in the neighborhood, come check them out! The Visitor Center is located at the corner of Turner and Madison in the King William district, and we’re open from 9:30am – 3:30pm Wednesday-Saturday, and Tuesdays 12:00 – 3:30 pm.
I also want to thank Councilwoman Mary Alice Cisneros for all she did to facilitate the event, Richard Thompson of Thompson Landscaping for lending us the gorgeous plants for the event, and Josie Fauerso and Joey Fauerso for the flowers. And we couldn’t have done it without Esther Pipoly, Jessie Kardys, Josie Fauerso, Betty Murray Halff, Carolene Zehner, and Alice Lynch, who volunteered their time to help with the planning. In addition to those mentioned above, we also had generous financial support from Dwight Hobart, Frost, and The Howard and Betty Halff Fund.
It was a fantastic night, but what I think I’ll always remember is this:
Weeks ago, while we were planning the event, we went back and forth on whether to rent a tent. They’re not cheap, and we hadn’t had any significant rain in South Texas for many many months. The odds of actually getting rain that day seemed about as good as my winning the lottery – which is pretty impossible since I don’t buy lottery tickets. But rain here is serious business. No polite little drizzle making one want to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea. We’re talking Noah-get-the-ark-because-the-floodwaters-are-rising kind of rain. So we decided not to take any chances. Thanks to the generosity of the Steves Foundation, we rented the tent, and are we ever glad we did!
Just as the dedication ceremony was about to get underway, Hurricane Rick decided to make his appearance. (Hey, who invited that guy?) The roar of the rain on the tent was so loud that the guests couldn’t hear the speakers even with microphones, so we had to move everyone into the building for the speeches. By the time the last speaker finished, we’d received about an inch of rain! Thankfully the rain slowed after that and it turned into a very pleasant evening for all.