Savannah. Charleston. New Orleans. San Antonio. These colonial-era cities inspire the courtyard garden ideal: green and lush, with beautiful plants, pools and fountains, paved with stone, tiles or bricks, & protected by sheltering walls with gates that reveal a table and chairs for cocktails or an al fresco meal...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Courtyard at The McNay

Probably the best "Spanish Courtyard" in San Antonio is the one surrounded by the Spanish Colonial Revival mansion built by Marion Koogler McNay in 1928. Mrs. McNay donated her home, its courtyard, grounds and artwork, and they have now become The McNay Museum of Art on the corner of North New Braunfels and Austin Highway. The paintings and sculpture are magnificent but I will leave them to the fine art bloggers. For me, the highlight of any visit is the courtyard. Come see!

This is the front of her original home, designed by Atlee & Robert Ayres. The museum sits on 23 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds on a corner between Alamo Heights and Terrell Hills. 

One enters the museum through the new modern addition to the rear of the original house. It connects through to Mrs. McNay's home, and I entered the courtyard through the first side entrance that was open to visitors. This first glimpse of the courtyard is offered through a decorative wrought iron grate.

The courtyard contains many of these antique olive jars, which are now fitted with up-shining landscape lights hidden within them.

There are bronze sculptures throughout the courtyard. Here is one framed by a potted  but not-yet-blooming plumeria.

These two views, taken from the upstairs balconies, show the layout of the courtyard. An upper fountain with a lions-head waterspout and shell-shaped basins leads to a narrow rill which empties into the center tiled lily pond.

The lily pond, looking across the courtyard.

Bougainvillea adds a shock of color.

Mrs. McNay loved peafowl, and kept some on the grounds. These peacocks are permanent specimens in tile.

Stairs to the second floor, with different rows of tile on each riser.

The upper fountain.

A tiled doorway with carved stone corbels supporting putti.

Views from the upper level balconies.

This is the last view as I reluctantly exit and look back across the courtyard through some sago palms to the outdoor hearth. What a great place! If you've already seen the riverwalk downtown, come see the McNay. A future post will visit the new and beautifully landscaped "Museum Reach" of the Paseo del Rio. Photographed on the grounds of the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas.

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