Yesterday we wrote about the Japanese Tea Gardens, which were constructed in an abandoned quarry that bisected Brackenridge Park. Actually, the Gardens only took up half the quarry. The other half — the northern part — is now the Sunken Garden Theater.
When the Tea Gardens were landscaped in 1915 the north end of the quarry became the Texas Star Garden, with plants beautifully arranged in star patterns. The acoustics in the gardens were fantastic, and musical groups began staging impromptu performances there. By 1928 the civic opera was lobbying for a permanent theater. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who lived in San Antonio and later became famous for his design of Mount Rushmore, drew the first plans for the theater that he said “would present a Grecian style of architecture.” It opened in 1930 and was extensively renovated in 1937 as part of the Texas Centennial celebrations. A bronze plaque installed on the east wing wall read, “1836-1936. Sunken Garden Theatre, a memorial to the Heroes of the Texas Revolution.”
The theater, which has 879 permanent seats and can cram in up to 4,700, is still a popular venue. The city’s annual Bob Marley Festival (“BobFest”) is held in November; the Margarita Pour-Off in September and “A Taste of New Orleans” is staged by the Zulu Association during Fiesta in the Spring. It has seen opera, Shakespeare, The Monkees, Carlos Santana, comedy, jazz, country western . . this quarry still rocks. You’ll walk right by it on the 21km Texas Trail Roundup Sunday walk; the entrance is next to the Japanese Tea Garden on N. St. Mary’s.