Texas Highways, Volume 51 Number 10, October 2004 Page: 63
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Texans can view Miz Harrie's bold tile designs at a number
of public sites, mostly in San Antonio.
At Mission San Jose, the former home of Ethel Wilson Harris boasts
numerous tile installations. The home is currently being renovated.
arts and crafts projects in San Antonio.
In 1940, Miz Harrie, who managed
Mission San Jose from 1941 to 1963,
founded Mission Crafts, the only com-
mercial workshop ever to operate within
the mission walls. But the mission's tra-
dition of artisanry began in the 1700s,
when the Franciscan friars and indige-
nous craftspeople made pottery, textiles,
and ironworks on the grounds. Miz Har-
rie revived that tradition. Adept at mar-
keting the mission's goods, she obtained
commissions from businesses and well-
to-do families, including making custom-
tile tables for the King Ranch and the
Waggoner Ranch. Some of the income
generated went toward the mission's res-
toration and preservation.
Until it closed in 1977, Mission Crafts
employed local artists, some of whom
were descendants of the mission's origi-
nal craftsmen. Many of
the company's wares,
which included tables,
doorstops, bookends, and
flower-pot hangers, were
sold as souvenirs and gifts.
Visitors to Mission San
Jose today can view an
exhibition case about Miz
Harrie and her work. In
1999, park rangers un-
earthed whole tiles and
pottery fragments from a
midden behind the mis-
sion, and ranger Dava McGahee incor-
porated these treasures into the exhibit.
Dava points to a maguey (pronounced
muh-GAY), or century plant, in front of
the mission's visitor center. Miz Harrie
loved the maguey, which, when it ma-
tures, puts up a towering flower stalk,
blooms, and then dies. She adopted a
stylized image of the plant as her person-
al craftsman's mark. The maguey also
appears as a recurring motif in the tiles,
and Miz Harrie's stone home, which is
now part of the mission grounds, features
green maguey tiles in its kitchen and on
the risers of a staircase.
Miz Harrie died in 1984, but unlike the
maguey, her craft lives to bloom again in
the hearts of art-lovers who see uncom-
mon beauty in the San Jose tile designs.
Writer KATHRYN JONES of Glen Rose longs to own a
piece of San Jos6 pottery as a piece of Texas history.
rently covered with plywood to protect it during
construction of a hotel.
Alamo Stadium, west entrance, on Stadium Dr.
across from Trinity Univ. This mural depicts the his-
tory of sports and other activities in San Antonio.
Ethel Wilson Harris House, Mission San Jose,
3300 Roosevelt at San Jose Dr., 210/932-1001.
Ethel's home features abundant tilework. It's not
currently open to the public, but you can see tiles
on the exterior and through a gate.
In Dallas: G.B. Dealey Library, at the Hall of
State at Fair Park, 214/421-4500. Eight panels
produced by Ethel's Mexican Arts and Crafts stu-
dio depict symbols of the West.
Cedar Park Convention &Tourism Bureau
. J --
October 2004 TEXAS HIGHWAYS 63
SAN JOSE TILE was installed in public
buildings, businesses, and private res-
idences throughout the state. Following
are some of the public sites in San Antonio.
Menger Hotel, 204 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio,
210/223-4361. The courtyard fountain features
tile panel depicting a couple holding calla lilies.
Twin Cypress Tree Panel, 135 E. Houston St., at
the entrance to the River Walk. Politically correct
it's not: This panel of 42 tiles, which dates to the
late 1930s, depicts a Mexican sniper aiming his
gun at a gringo stopping at the river.
Trail Drivers Panel, on the River Walk between
Presa and Navarro streets. This WPA panel is cur-
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Texas. Department of Transportation. Texas Highways, Volume 51 Number 10, October 2004, periodical, Date Unknown; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth839147/m1/69/: accessed April 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.