Breaking Down the History of San Antonio’s Samuels Glass Building

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If you’ve lived in San Antonio for a while, you’ve probably passed by the old Samuels Glass Building, identifiable by its large retro burnt orange sign that colors the Pearl District. Recently, it received official historic designation by the City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation.

Shannon Miller, director of the city’s Office of Historic Preservation, told MySA that the new designation, along with that of the Grumbles House on Wyoming Street, are examples of the city’s efforts to celebrate our architectural and cultural diversity. “Samuels Glass, built in 1948, has a streamlined Art Deco design and is distinctive for its relationship to the business, which is still in business today, and its unique wedge shape built to accommodate the old railway spur,” Miller said.

As it stands, the building is a former glass factory. Interestingly, it’s a good example of San Antonio’s transitional industrial history – straddling two worlds – not yet revised and firmly anchored in a plan of redevelopments. But where is he going? Let’s see where it has been first.

Sam’s Glass

Camille Sauer

Samuels Glass Co.


Designed by famed architect Bartlett Cocke, the brick warehouse at 221 Newell Street was intended to become Samuels Glass Co., in 1948, a company founded by Lawrence Samuels officially in 1914. Nearly 70 years later, in 2017, the still family-owned business spun off the Pearl-area building and moved to a newer facility off Interstate 410 NE due to an increase in development. at Pearl.

“An apartment building moved next door and there were kids riding bikes outside and people walking around, you know, it was too difficult to run a business from there,” says Jenni Samuels , Lawrence’s great-granddaughter and current vice-president. president of the company. Samuels added that around this time, even the regular 18-wheelers tasked with bringing the materials began to struggle to enter the premises.

Sam's Glass

Sam’s Glass

Camille Sauer

In its early days, Samuels Glass Co. focused primarily on producing art glass, says Jenni. They have since expanded into a variety of other glass-based niches, from automotive glass to glass for buildings and new construction.

“We used to have an auto warehouse, where different glass companies in San Antonio came to buy their auto glass from us. And anyway, that all changed. And now there are AutoGlass stores everywhere,” says Jenni.

Jenni grew up at Samuels Glass Co. and started working for the family business when she was 16 – she is now in her late 60s. Although the development of the Pearl has made it harder to do business as usual, the changes to the region are not unwelcome for Jenni as a local.

“I think it gave San Antonio a really big boost. So yeah, I’m really happy with that,” Samuels said.

Sam's Glass

Sam’s Glass

Camille Sauer

The historic designation of the former home of family businesses is also not to be overlooked – it was particularly happy that current developers, Silver Ventures, decided to leave the listing.

“I’m very proud of it. I’m very proud of the business and I’m really happy with the historic landmark. It’s a great building,” Samuels said.

Renderings show the renovated building of Samuels Glass Co.

Renderings show the renovated building of Samuels Glass Co.

Courtesy of Clayton Korte

Where is he going ?

Silver Ventures, responsible for brewing numerous redevelopment concepts in the former Pearl Brewery area, is currently working under Rio Perla Properties to reimagine the function of the now-historic property, according to documents submitted to the Historic and Design Review Board. . Rio Perla officially purchased the property in 2015.

In 2021, they submitted the site for historical review, which would make it eligible for local, state, and federal tax incentives. The groups want to continue the Pearl District’s trend of revitalizing older properties. The new Samuels Glass building will become a dynamic multi-use space for restaurants, office space and storage space for Pearl’s operations.

Architectural firm renderings Clayton Korte illustrate this pedestrian-friendly transformation project.

Pearl obtains an extension of its marketplace.

Pearl obtains an extension of its marketplace.

Courtesy of Clayton Korte

Currently, the warehouse has over 17,400 square feet of space according to Bexar County property records. Project developers say the roof, exterior windows and doors will be restored. The exterior should also be repaired to provide greater water resistance, according to the documents.

It is also expected that many of the old industrial features will give way to a more communal space. The loading dock on the Karnes Street side of the building will be transformed into a raised courtyard with repainted floors, and the service driveway will become a new market entrance with a covered patio.

It looks like history is still in the making for the multi-storey Art Deco building. A construction schedule has not yet been confirmed.



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