Highlights from the Past at Villa Finale

Power of a Story

Villa Finale’s Power of a Story lecture series focuses on stories about the San Antonio community experience, told by those best qualified to lend their voices. This year’s theme was inspired by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Tell the Full Story initiative and by our own vibrant and diverse San Antonio community.

2021 will mark the sixth anniversary of Villa Finale’s annual parlor lecture series. These intimate talks with poets, politicians, academics, and musicians have become a Villa Finale signature and we’re proud to continue this tradition with Power of a Story.

Join us LIVE in Villa Finale's beautiful gardens on Friday, November 19th, for a FREE outdoor performance by

Andrea Vocab Sanderson
Vocalist, Arts Educator, and Poet Laureate of San Antonio

With music by Jed Craddock and dance accompaniment by Danielle Campbell Steans

Friday, November 19th, 6:00pm
Gardens at Villa Finale, 401 King William, San Antonio, TX

Please bring your blankets and lawn chairs as we settle in for this socially distanced, outdoor performance at historic Villa Finale: Museum & Gardens!

About the Artist

Andrea Vocab Sanderson is the first Black Poet Laureate of San Antonio, serving in this role from 2020 through 2023. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including Dream Voice, People’s Choice Award, Best Live Entertainment/Band Musician of the Year by the 17th Annual SEA Awards, The Arts and Letters Award by Friends of San Antonio Public Library in 2020, and Best Local Poet 2021 by The San Antonio Current.

Vocab is San Antonio native. She serves as a Teaching Artist for Gemini Ink and is an artist in residence with The Carver Community Cultural Center. In 2021, she received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship. Vocab’s debut book is entitled She Lives In Music and was released by Flower Song Press in February of 2020. Her music is available on all music streaming platforms.

Andrea Vocab Sanderson

Our upcoming speakers for this series include:

Cristina Ballí, Executive Director, The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center

Join us for this important series and prepare to listen, to learn, and to grow stronger in our cultural understanding and in our community connections.

Past Topics

Deborah Omowale JarmonCEO/Director of the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum (SAAACAM)

A retired civil servant with a 27 year career in the world of air traffic control, Deborah relocated to San Antonio to be a “close-by” grandmother teaching them the importance of their legacy. Opening a bed and breakfast in the King William area of San Antonio, named for the family matriarch, “Eva’s Escape at the Gardenia Inn” immersed her family in Deborah’s personal mission of love and service for family and community.

Upon her family relocating to Atlanta, Deborah realized the commitment of the bed and breakfast would prevent her from spending that quality time with those grandbabies. Selling the property, Deborah turned to community advocacy with a mission to connect the African American community to each other, opportunities, and our history. Her position as the CEO/Director of the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum provides an opportunity to carry out her mission.

Robert Salcido, Jr.Executive Director, Pride Center San Antonio

Robert Salcido, Jr., Executive Director (he/him/his) is a social justice advocate and activist at the local, state, and national level. He has extensive experience working with issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, LGBTQ+ education, and nondiscrimination.

Salcido holds a dual role as the statewide field coordinator for Equality Texas, the largest statewide LGBTQ+ rights advocacy group in Texas. He oversees field operations to include educational initiatives aimed at creating a greater understanding of discrimination issues. He also serves as the executive director and board chair for The Center – Pride Center San Antonio.

Robert is committed equity and inclusion of underrepresented individuals and is active in various capacities in the community. Currently he is an Interdisciplinary Research Leaders fellow led by the University of Minnesota and supported by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. Salcido is also a past fellow with Freedom For All Americans LGBT-University and the Victory Fund’s Victory Empowerment Institute.

Power of a LegacyA Virtual Salon Series

Walter at Villa Finale

We bring our signature salon series to YOUR salon!

2020 marks Villa Finale’s tenth year in operation as the only site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Texas. This year’s series, Power of a Legacy, celebrates that anniversary with featured guest presenters expert in fields that were of special interest to Villa Finale’s final owner, Walter Mathis.

For the safety and health of our guests, we’ve taken this series virtual via webinar format, allowing each participant to enjoy these intimate talks from the comfort of their own home. From preservation and military history to entertaining and collecting, this series will enlighten and entertain, while keeping you safe.

As a special bonus, we will be offering these webinars FREE with advance registration.

Past Lectures Hospitality

Olivier Bourgoin
Wine Broker & Freelance Food Writer

Olivier Bourgoin is a freelance writer specializing in producing food, wine, and restaurant-centric articles for several local publications. He also works in wine sales as an independent wine broker and has been a featured weekly guest on KTSA Radio (550 AM) since 2001 as “Olivier the Wine Guy.” He has given lectures on wine-related topics to a number of groups, including the San Antonio Museum Society, National Public Radio, and the Institute of Texan Cultures Adult Education Program. Olivier is currently working on a food-centric book with a San Antonio theme.


Ashley Wilson, FAIA, ASID
Chief Architect for the Historic Sites at the
National Trust for Historic Preservation

Ashley Wilson, FAIA, ASID is the Chief Architect for the Historic Sites at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in an endowed position named the Graham Gund Architect. This position provides broad oversight responsibilities related to the conservation and preservation of the architecture and landscapes of the Trust’s twenty-eight historic sites. With over twenty-five years of experience as a Preservation Architect, Ashley specializes in modernizing and stewarding significant historic buildings to make them relevant within the modern environment. Before working at the National Trust, she was a tenured professor at the Clemson University/College of Charleston Graduate Program for Historic Preservation in Charleston, SC and in private architectural practice in Washington DC. She graduated from the architecture schools at the University of Virginia and the University of Notre Dame.

Military Service

Major General Angie Salinas
Retired Officer & Chief Executive Officer,
Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas

Major General Angie Salinas, retired Marine Corps officer and CEO of the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, joins Villa Finale Executive Director, Jane Lewis, for this free virtual webinar.

Lewis and Major General Salinas look forward to a thought-provoking discussion covering Salinas’ decorated and trailblazing career. Bring your questions to this fascinating free webinar!

Major General Angela Salinas, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret) is the Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas. Salinas served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 39 years. She was the first Latina promoted to the general officer ranks in the U.S. Marine Corps. Upon her retirement in 2013, she was the senior ranking woman and Hispanic in the Corps. A woman of many firsts, Salinas was a trailblazer for women in the U.S. Marine Corps. Her military decorations are many including the Defense Superior Service Medal and culminating with the Navy Distinguished Service Medal upon retirement. Salinas’ accolades extend past her military experience and include being inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame and Hispanic Women in Leadership Hall of Fame.

Collecting Fine Art & Antiques

Lark Mason, Jr.
Art & Antiques Expert, Appraiser, & Author

Lark Mason, Jr. is an author, appraiser, independent curator, educator, auctioneer, and art consultant. He is president of the Appraiser’s Association of America, and CEO and founder of Lark Mason Associates and Lark Mason is noted for his regular appearances on the PBS series Antiques Roadshow, where he has appeared since 1996 as a specialist in Asian works of art. He and his wife Erica split their time between their offices in New York City and New Braunfels, Texas.

Tell The Full StoryTravel virtually and learn about fascinating topics with our new blog series

Museum Attendant Doug Daye is back with a blog post exploring some of the latest historic films – all of which tell untold or under-told stories. Click here to explore recent historic films with Doug!

In honor of National Read Across America Day, Doug Daye takes to the blog to share the work of some favorite children’s book illustrators and lets you know where you can see even more of their art.

Click here to explore beloved children’s books with Doug!

Ready for another museum visit with Doug? Click here to read about Doug’s virtual visit to the American Jazz Museum!

Click here to delve into a fascinating story with Villa Finale Museum Attendant, Doug Daye, and learn about cosmetics and business pioneer and self-made millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker.

We may not be able to travel right now, but thanks to Villa Finale staffer Doug Daye we can still visit the Pueblo Grande Museum! Click here to visit this fascinating site virtually.

Obsessed with Napoleon? So are we! Click here to read all about Napoleon’s connection to the Rosetta Stone and the “Egyptomania” that swept the globe after its discovery in this blog post by Interpretive Guide, Sara Breshears.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Executive Director Jane Lewis introduces readers to some lesser-known Hispanic figures. Click here to read all about it!

Many are familiar with the works and life of artist Frida Kahlo, but how many are acquainted with New Mexico sculptor Patrociño Barela? Click here to revisit Kahlo and get to know Barela in this blog post by staffer Doug Daye, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Getting to Know...Villa FinaleRoll up your sleeves and really get to know Villa Finale with these deep dives into our vast collection

“What’s It?” Wednesday
With Sara Breshears

Interpretive Guide, Sara Breshears, introduces at-home viewers to special items in Villa Finale’s collection via “guessing game.” How keen is your eye? Find out here!

View Number One in our series...

Then view for the answer reveal!

View Number Two in our series...

Then view for the answer reveal!

View Number Three in our series...

Then view for the answer reveal!

View Number Four in our series...

Then view for the answer reveal!

Staff Favorites
With Doug Daye

Museum Attendant Doug Daye takes a break from leading tours and writing blog posts to share one of his favorite items in Villa Finale’s vast collection.

Staff Favorites
With Farrah Varga

Manager of Marketing & Programs, Farrah Varga, steps out from her usual spot behind the camera to share one of her favorite items in Villa Finale’s vast collection.

Villa Finale en Español
Recordando al Batallón de San Patricio

En nuestra serie de videos en español, recordamos a los héroes extranjeros que pelearon por la causa mexicana al igual que demostrar arte en nuestro museo de la guerra Mexicoamericana (Intervención estadounidense en México). Conocidos como el Batallón de San Patricio, estos hombres pelearon con los mexicanos unidos por su religión católica.

How to Tell the Bonapartes Apart
With Sara Taylor

For French Language Day, Interpretive Guide, Sara Taylor, treated viewers to a very tongue-in-cheek tutorial on how to tell those pesky Bonapartes apart. If you need help sorting through your Bonapartes like we sometimes do, this video is for you!

Collecting History: Stories Inspired by Villa Finale’s Most Weird & Wonderful Curiosities
With Sylvia Gonzalez-Pizaña

Our new video and blog series will highlight objects in the collection that aren’t always highlighted during our regular tours, but have more stories to tell than the eye can behold.

Click here for our introductory blog post and view the accompanying video below.

Ask Villa Finale
With Sylvia Gonzalez-Pizaña

Want to know even more about the collections at Villa Finale? Just ask! Manager of Collections & Interpretation, Sylvia Gonzalez-Pizaña gives in-depth answers to questions about our many incredible items and insights on many favorite old stories from this venerable home.

Learn about our Chevaux de Marly sculpture.

Learn about the mystery surrounding Napoleon's death mask. (English version. Scroll down for the Spanish version.)

Learn about the mystery surrounding Napoleon's death mask. (Spanish version.)

Learn more about a classic Villa Finale love story

Learn more about one of our favorite music boxes. (Spanish version.)

See something you want to know more about? Email us at!

A Witness to Change

This presentation, shown in video format, is one our staff gives to many of the group tours we host at our historic site. This four part series covers how the history of the house – known as “Villa Finale” – mirrors that of San Antonio. Enjoy this formerly in person-only offering from the comfort of your home!

Part One of this series

Part Two of this series

Part Three of this series

VF Virtual ToursStay distant, but see EVERYTHING with our incredible virtual tours

Staff Favorites
With Executive Director, Jane Lewis

Join Jane Lewis, Executive Director of Villa Finale, as she takes a quick trip though some of her favorite objects in Villa Finale’s vast collection, including prized paintings from the Cuzco School and Colonial retablos.

Music For Your Eyes
Tour Preview

This tongue-in-cheek preview teases Villa Finale’s signature music tour, Music For Your Eyes, coming soon!

Introduction to Villa Finale – Spanish Edition
with Sylvia Gonzalez-Pizaña

Manager of Collections & Interpretation, Sylvia Gonzalez-Pizaña, takes you on a quick Spanish-language tour of Villa Finale’s first floor.

Music For Your Eyes
A Musical Journey Through the Past

This virtual experience highlights the music machines in the museum’s collection with demonstrations of unique music boxes, antique turntables, and more.

Educational & Family ProgrammingEnjoy the light side of Villa Finale with these fun and educational programs!

Enter…The Cocktail
With Orlando Cortinas

Multi-talented Buildings & Grounds Manager, Orlando Cortinas, introduces viewers to historic cocktail in this engaging new series. Join Orlando and some special guests as we cover cocktails by the decade, beginning with the 1870s.

View a demonstration of this 1870s classic!

Let's Start With Art!

Explore our collections and learn to make a masterpiece of your own with these virtual art activities.

Landscape Painting with Lisa Stewart

Lisa Stewart is back with an art activity perfect for beginners of all ages! Start with a brief history of beloved Texas Impressionist, Julian Onderdonk, and move to a lesson on landscape painting, plus an easy way to create your own canvas! Click here for the accompanying blog post!

Texture Rubbings with Lisa Stewart

Lisa Stewart takes a nature walk at beautiful Villa Finale and finds some great objects with which to make texture rubbings – a perfect spring art activity!

Stained Glass with Lisa Stewart

Lisa Stewart is back with an art activity perfect for the whole family! Take a quick look at some of the beautiful stained glass at Villa Finale and settle in with your little ones and some basic craft supplies to make your own!

Celebrating the Día de los Muertos

Join Lisa, Doug, and Sara for this printmaking activity in celebration of the Día de los Muertos holiday!

The Music That Made Us: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Manager of Collections & Interpretation, Sylvia Gonzalez-Pizaña takes a trip back in time for Hispanic Heritage Month and talks about some of the music that defined her youth. Plus, you’ll see a rarely-seen room at Villa Finale!

Tex-Mex Vs. Cali-Mex 

Join Orlando Cortinas and Sylvia Gonzalez-Pizaña go head to head in this Hispanic Heritage Month video, showcasing culinary delights from California and Texas. 

Ever wondered if Villa Finale is haunted? Well, the staff has certainly seen its share of paranormal activity! Check out these videos to learn more about possible hauntings at Villa Finale, if you dare…