In 1953, Wilber L. Fite of L. E. Fite and Company and nephew of L. E. Fite, began developing the Inspiration Hills neighborhood. This area, which still contains a unique mix of post-World War II architectural styles, beautiful vistas, and large lots, helped lead the way for suburban development patterns in San Antonio.
According to Wilber Fite, horseback riders would pull up the wooden stakes marking the lots slated for development in an effort to delay construction of houses on top of their beloved horse trails. Joe Wofford, planning task force member and long-time resident of Inspiration Hills, recalls camping on top of a hill near the present-day intersection of Horizon and Willowbrook before the development of the neighborhood. Barbara Wofford, wife of Joe and fellow task force member, fondly remembers going to the top of another hill years before residential construction began and sliding down the hard caliche surface on a flattened cardboard box.
Much like the more traditional Monticello Park neighborhood, Inspiration Hills was designed by a group of different architects that resulted in the development of distinguishable characteristics of neighboring houses and wide variety of styles throughout the neighborhood. Construction began at Bella Vista in the southern portion of the neighborhood. Another unique contribution to the local neighborhood history upon development of Inspiration Hills is that this community contains the second oldest mandatory homeowner’s association but the oldest continuously operating mandatory homeowner’s association in San Antonio.
The Near Northwest Community is comprised of nine different neighborhood associations, each one with its own unique history. From the earliest development during the 1880s and through the most recent additions in the Inspiration Hills, Sunshine Estates, Maverick and Hillcrest neighborhoods during the 1950s and 1960s, the Near Northwest area has had a tradition of containing some of the most desirable residential real estate in San Antonio. Amenities like Woodlawn Lake and Jefferson High School have contributed to a high level of quality of life and, consequently, have attracted residents to the area.
The period during the 1970s through the early 1990s saw a growing trend of residential flight to newer suburban areas outside of Loop 410. However, the area has seen a recent influx of migration by younger families attracted to the area’s traditional neighborhoods. The unique architectural qualities of the housing stock, proximity to downtown, improved economic corridors, popular green- space, and strong community involvement are all part of the early and recent history of the Near Northwest Community that help define its neighborhoods.