San Antonio’s 18th-century acequia started within the park, bringing water from the San Antonio River to the city’s Eastside. After construction in 1776, the river reached what is now the Westside of San Antonio to cultivate fields. Remnants of the dam can be found today in the park within the boundaries of the San Antonio Zoo. Historical buildings such as the 1878 Pumphouse #1, the oldest industrial building in Bexar County, remain standing in Brackenridge Park.
While the park may predate back to the B.C. era, Brackenridge Park itself was founded in the late 1800s when George Washington Brackenridge donated land to the City. Brackenridge, one of San Antonio’s leading citizens and founder of the San Antonio Express-News, donated 199 acres to his beloved city to create what is now known as Brackenridge Park. He later donated addition acreage as well as Emma Koehler which lead the park to consist of 343 acres of land. The park is named after its original donator whose bronze statue can be found at the Broadway Street entrance of the park.
Brackenridge’s mansion, Fernridge, is now part of the University of the Incarnate Word campus. Brackenridge Park, San Antonio Japanese Garden and Mahncke Park were made possible by the generous donations of land holdings of George Washington Brackenridge.
The Conservancy:The Brackenridge Park Conservancy was incorporated in September 2008. The Conservancy’s formation was the result of many years of advocacy on the part of the San Antonio Conservation Society which has played an active role in the park’s preservation for since its founding in 1924. After meeting for several years, in 2007 the Society’s Brackenridge Park committee and Board of Directors took steps to initiate the formation of the Conservancy, providing seed money for the new organization. Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, the founder of the Central Park Conservancy in New York and a San Antonian, was engaged by the Society to prepare a “White Paper” about the creation of an organization dedicated solely to the protection of Brackenridge Park. The Conservancy was incorporated in September 2008, and its founding board was elected in February 2009.
Since 2009, the Brackenridge Park Conservancy has listened to and been a voice for those who use this cherished San Antonio park and its facilities. The organization exists to work with everyone who has an interest in Brackenridge Park so that together we can make progress toward common goals, such as implementing existing plans and developing new programming for the park. A key component in maintaining and improving the facilities and property of Brackenridge Park is the continued participation of volunteers, sponsors, and advocates. For this reason, Brackenridge Park Conservancy seeks to increase the network of volunteers, experienced consultants and enthusiastic donors and sponsors for the park through programming, special events, board and committee activities, and long-term planning.
The Brackenridge Park Conservancy is a steward of and an advocate for the park and an instrument for preserving and enhancing the park’s natural, historic, educational and recreational resources for the enjoyment of current and future generations.
Brackenridge Park Conservancy Goals:
The Brackenridge Park Conservancy's goals are to represent the interests of the park user, unify the park as one coherent place, and augment resources dedicated to the park, including volunteers, expertise, funding, and advocacy.
The Conservancy raises funds for projects that benefit the park, implements park-based programs and projects, advises City staff and Council, supports the evolution and implementation of plans for the park, and acts as a forum for users to address common issues and build consensus. The Conservancy works closely with the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department.