Grand Old House

The oak-lined front drive heading toward the Lutcher Center. UTSA faculty members [inset] Patricia Burn, John Michel, and Paul Bartlett inside the center.

Grand Old House

A stately San Antonio home serves as UTSA’s conference center in the university’s first decades

[ This article was originally published in the UTSA newsletter The Discourse in February 1975 ]

In 1935 Lutcher Brown built an elegant and gracious home. The iron gates open onto a long, oak-lined drive that leads to the stately, colonial stone house. It is surrounded by rose and azalea gardens and hundreds of oak, elm, and magnolia trees.

Each room in the house is unique. The reception area has a graceful stairway, inlaid ebony floor, and intricate carvings. Ancient Chinese horses decorate the mantel in the library. The dining room murals were painted on Belgian linen and a 15th century Flemish tapestry hangs in the music room. The tasteful, softly lighted east sitting room was included in 100 Most Beautiful Rooms in America by Helen Comstock.

The setting is from another era. Yet the house echoes with the sounds of the present—an enthusiastic lecture, a heated debate, or a little girl’s laughter.

Originally named Oak Court, the San Antonio estate is now called the Lutcher Center. It was given to The University of Texas System Board of Regents by Brown and his wife in 1966 to use as a conference center. In 1972 the regents placed responsibility for administration of the center with the president of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

The center is operated by UTSA for the people of Texas. They come there to conduct business, solve problems, and raise money. They teach and learn there.

Each year more people take advantage of the conference facilities. During the 1973–74 school year more than 8,500 people attended functions at the center at 636 Ivy Lane in the Terrell Hills neighborhood.

The San Antonio Bicentennial Committee honored the visiting Guatemala delegation at a brunch; the American Pharmaceutical Association and American Association of College of Pharmacy Task Force discussed continuing competency in pharmacy; the Southwest Foundation Forum held a charity gala; and more than 700 people attended an international film festival hosted by the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Organizations such as the Temple Beth El Brotherhood, the Bexar County Library Association, the Community Guidance Center, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Alamo Council of Camp Fire Girls, and the San Antonio Chamber Music Society meet there.

Other groups come to the Lutcher Center for lectures, workshops, retreats, and seminars. The subjects range from science to public affairs to mental health.

“The Lutcher Center provides space, facilities, services, and suitable environment for public and private educational institutions and for groups engaged in public service,” said UTSA President Peter T. Flawn.

Groups that use the center are assessed a service fee according to the number of participants and whether the event is scheduled for a half day, full day, or evening. Food service is available for small groups; larger meetings are usually catered. There are limited room accommodations.

Flawn noted, “At a time when civilized society the world over is seeking to preserve the gracious architectural monuments of the past and at the same time put them to constructive use for the future, the Lutcher Center is fulfilling the educational and public service function envisioned by its donors.”


The Lutcher Center, originally known as Oak Court, was built in 1935 by the late H. Lutcher Brown. Designed by Atlee B. and Robert M. Ayers, the house is located in the Terrell Hills neighborhood and was given to The University of Texas System in 1965 for use as a conference center. UTSA operated the Lutcher Center in the 1970s and 1980s until the UT System sold the estate to private owners in 1988.