If you’ve stopped to have a beer and to relax during the fair at “Julia’s Veranda," you should know that it honors Julia Cauthorn, often referred to as “The Duchess of King William.” Julia, who writer Mimi Swartz said looked a little like Gloria Swanson crossed with a pioneer woman, is said to have sold old jewelry and gold coins to buy her house in 1973. It’s the gothic revival, Alfred Gilesdesigned cottage, known as the Sartor House at 217 King William. Julia died in 2000 at age eighty-two. She was a passionate supporter of the local performing arts and on many Sunday afternoons would host musicales in her home to showcase an up-and-coming singer, performance group, musician or dancer that had recently caught her fancy. She would set up chairs in her parlor and invite the neighbors in for the performance and serve cake and punch afterwards on her veranda.
Although she was an ardent preservationist and worked tirelessly to restore and preserve the homes in King William, she was often at odds with Walter Mathis. Julia’s approach to restoration was somewhat pragmatic and open-minded whereas Walter was a stickler for authenticity. These differences came to a head in “the battle of the bay window.” Julia wanted to add a third bay to her cottage on King William on the scale of an 1882 original and a second added in the 1920’s. Walter used his considerable influence to convince the Historic Review Board that the proposed window was “inappropriate” since it wouldn’t look like the existing two – which of course, didn’t look like each other in the first place. To this day, the cottage still has only two bay windows.
Julia, a beloved art patron, had a particular affinity for classical dance. Her spirit lives on through a scholarship program bearing her name at the San Antonio Dance Umbrella.