Helotes (pronounced hel-LO-tes), a town twenty miles northwest of downtown San Antonio, dates back to the 1850s. On Bandera Road (State Highway 16) between the towns of Bandera and San Antonio, Helotes became a stagecoach stop in the 1860s, with a post office established in 1873. Home of the famous John T. Floore Country Store dance hall and the annual Cornyval Festival; Helotes is known as a place to “let down yer hair and kick up yer heels.” This hill country town, incorporated in 1981, took its nature from the ancient creek that meanders through the town.
This 0.3–mile tour features 11 historically significant structures, starting at the Hileman/Riggs House (near the City parking lot) and ending at the Ross Barham House. A 12th structure, the Marnoch Homestead, is well worth seeing; however, because it is outside of the Old Town District, we suggest you drive.
Downtown Helotes began with a homestead, general store, blacksmith shop, and saloon. A boarding house and dance hall followed. For several decades, the town center, surrounded by large farms and ranches, remained little more than a “cow town,” a few buildings on either side of a dusty, packed earth road wide enough to accommodate cattle drives.