Originating in the 1870s on 40 acres located 2.5 miles northeast of downtown, this army base has since expanded to nearly 3,000 acres situated between Interstate 35 and Harry Wurzbach Highway. The initial phase of construction began in 1876 on the Quadrangle, the historic core of the post, and was completed three years later. Enclosed by a square, grey limestone building, a nine-acre courtyard is centered around a 90-foot-tall limestone clock tower (commissioned by General Montgomery Meigs) and is accessible via an arched gateway at the center of the south facade. Deer, peacocks, and other wildlife have roamed the symmetrical grass plaza punctuated by live oaks since the early 1880s. Architect Alfred Giles designed officers’ quarters west of the Quadrangle in 1881, including Pershing House (listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975). Between 1885 and 1891, Giles designed an additional 60 structures, which formed the Infantry Post. The Army Housing Program of 1926 spurred another major period of growth between 1928 and 1939, with the addition of more than 500 structures constructed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style at the suggestion of architect Atlee B. Ayres.
Today, the active military base comprises a wide network of roads that connect barracks, offices, residences, training fields, commercial areas, a medical campus, and a golf course. In 2009 it was named headquarters of the Joint Base San Antonio, which comprises more than 35,000 acres throughout the region. Fort Sam Houston was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975.