If there were ever a letter-writing campaign needed to save a city landmark, Miraflores fits the bill. Old, artistic, neglected, forgotten, and in need of restoration, this once-vibrant sculpture garden was a physician’s passion project in the early 20th century.
Dr. Aureliano Urrutia was an eccentric fellow, an accomplished physician, art collector, and politician who once served a brief stint as the Interior Minister for Mexico. After learning the president he had served wanted him killed, he fled to San Antonio to continue his medical practice. Once established, Urratia started designing and decorating Miraflores, his own personal art garden. Throughout the 1920s and ’30s, he filled with statues, fountains, pools, arches, and tiled benches.
One of the most fascinating pieces still in the garden is a replica he commissioned of the world-famous Winged Victory of Samothrace that’s kept at the Louvre in Paris. According to some tales, the commissioned replica was sent back to France on three separate occasions because port authorities in Houston thought the headless statue had been broken during delivery. Finally, the port was informed the statue was supposed to be headless. This interesting replica is just one of many statues still standing in what’s left of Miraflores.
As the doctor grew older, the lush, beautiful garden fell into a state of neglect and was even vandalized over the years. When the doctor died in 1975, Miraflores became the property of the University of the Incarnate Word and then the City of San Antonio in 2006.
Now, the sculpture looks more like a forgotten cemetery, where the statues and artwork are left to crumble and fade. Miraflores is closed and fenced off from the public, though you can still stop to take pictures from outside the fence. There have been plans to restore and reopen the garden for years, but the money for the restoration, and the work itself, never seems to materialize.