José Antonio Navarro was an influential political figure during the momentous 55 years (1810–1865) when Texas’ destiny was forged. Navarro served in Texas legislatures under Mexico, the Republic of Texas and the state of Texas. In addition, he served on the committees that wrote the first two Texas constitutions in 1836 and 1845.
Although a prominent, influential leader, Navarro was not a professional politician. As a young man he learned the merchant trade, the occupation of his father. Factories from the United States and Europe sent ships loaded with merchandise to New Orleans, where Navarro arranged to import books, cloth, clothing, wine, sugar, rice and coffee.
Navarro also earned a living through land investment. During the 1830s, he purchased more than 50,000 acres of ranch land at a price of pennies per acre. Because thousands of people were immigrating into Texas, the demand for land increased. Navarro sold portions of his land holdings for up to three dollars per acre. His San Antonio rental properties also produced income.
His wife Margarita de la Garza was also a native of San Antonio. Between 1817 and 1837, she bore four sons and three daughters. Numerous descendants live in and around San Antonio, with many more scattered throughout the country.
Did You Know?
- Navarro was one of only two native-born Texans to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836.
- Casa Navarro is the last remnant of the historically Mexican west side of San Antonio, known as Laredito (Little Laredo), and it is located on Laredo Street, a vestige of the Camino Real (King’s Highway).
- The home is a rare example of adobe and caliche-block architecture and is among the oldest adobe structures remaining in San Antonio. The oldest building on the property is the adobe kitchen, built ca.1832.
- Casa Navarro staff is capable of demonstrating adobe-making techniques, by request.
- The site staff whitewashes the three historic buildings on an annual basis—typically in late-July or early-August—using an old recipe consisting of lime paste and cactus juice.
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