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Architect of a Legacy Ranch

Field Sport Concepts’ expertise is in the development and implementation of plans which conserve open lands through environmentally sound recreational use.  We believe that land which sustains itself by producing income as open space today is land most likely to remain open space for generations to come.  This post is the second in a series from Field Sport Concepts Affiliate Sonja Howle of Famous Barns.

As you explore the architecture of San Antonio and Texas, one name comes up again and again.  Alfred Giles.  Giles was born in Hillingdon, Middlesex, England in 1853 and after years of architectural study in London, he moved to San Antonio in 1873.  Many of the state’s most remarkable county court houses were designed by Giles; his work is showcased at Fort Sam Houston’s Military Base, in Officers’ Quarters, Barracks and the famous Quadrangle.  He built mansions, carriage houses and commercial structures throughout Texas and Mexico, since he also had an office in Monterrey.

In 1885 he purchased a 13,000 acre ranch in Kendall County with his brother-in-law and partner Judge John Herndon James.  They bred registered Aberdeen-Angus cattle and angora goats.  They called the place Hillingdon Ranch.

Remarkably, 129 years and six generations later, the ranch is still owned by the Giles descendants and remains a working ranch.

David Langford, Alfred’s great-grandson, lives there and is well-respected as a wildlife, western life and landscape photographer.  He has not only won awards for his photographs in the Images for Conservation Fund competitions but he’s hosted photographers at Hillingdon Ranch as well.  His career in photography is as significant as his lifetime commitment to conservation.

David and his family learned stewardship first-hand.  They understand elements like the water cycle, soil regeneration, plant succession and the vital role of open spaces in everything from flood control to carbon sequestration.

His public service has involved over two decades as an Executive Vice President of the Texas Wildlife Association.  (He is currently vice president emeritus).  His efforts and those of that group ensured access to an invaluable tool to help rural landowners: the “wildlife management property tax valuation.”  This allowed the land owner options with their resources:  hunting, birding, wildlife and nature tourism, and it created a new level of stewardship.

David is in the middle of a book-signing tour for Hillingdon Ranch, Four Seasons, Six Generations.”  His new book illustrates the diversity and depth of his family’s Kendall County Ranch.  And for my friends in the San Antonio area, David will be at the Patrick Heath Public Library in Boerne for a book signing during the Local Author Bookfest on March 1, 2014.  I’ll stop by and say Hi – may see you there.

For more, contact Sonja Howle at Famous Barns and Robert McKee at Field Sport Concepts

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