There are a few things that make up the soul of a city: its people, its cuisine, and its architecture. Recently, a 1920s house in Terrell Hills designed by architect Atlee Ayres hit the market. In the listing, it was noted that Ayres had designed hundreds of home across San Antonio in the early 20th century, including the Atkinson-McNay House, along with famous commercial buildings such as the Freeman Coliseum and the Smith-Young Tower, once the city’s tallest skyscraper. If architecture defines a place, then Ayres was key in creating the San Antonio we know today.
But despite his reputation as “San Antonio’s most famous architect,” there isn’t much written about Ayres (in fact, there’s only one book — The Eclectic Odyssey of Atlee B. Ayres, Architect — dedicated entirely to his legacy). Adding to the confusion is that often what is written is incorrect, due largely to his longtime partnership with his son, Robert M. Ayres, leading to confusion about exactly which Ayres is responsible for which project.