In the mid 1800’s San Antonio’s Water Works Company was privately owned by George W. Brackenridge. George also owned some very valuable land in the area, that included the current location of the University of Incarnate Word, Brackenridge Park, Mahncke Park and the San Antonio Botanical Garden. When water was needed for the area it was drawn from the San Antonio River, and went to a reservoir located on the current Botanical Gardens site.
In the 1890’s George was faced with a difficult situation after a serious drought struck the city. He need to provide water to the surrounding communities and the San Antonio River was no longer an option. He decided to drill the very first San Antonio deep artesian well in order for the families in the area to continue receiving water. After about 15 years, that old system for pumping was no longer effective and Brackenridge decided to sell the company and move onto other pursuits in life.
Brackenridge wanted “a continuous drive from the city through Brackenridge Park to the Reservoir,” so he gave 25 acres around the reservoir to the city. There was one condition though, he asked that the land be named after a very good friend, Ludwig Mahncke who at the time, was the City Park Commissioner. Famous sculptor Pompeo Coppini crafted a magnificent statue of Mahncke that stands in the park for all to see.
The once used reservoir is the focal point of the Botanical Garden, which is used as an amphitheater for schools, entertainment and enjoyment of the community and city.