Having grown up in Seguin, Paul Gaytan carried with him fond memories in his travels after high school and dreamed of one day returning to his hometown.
It took a couple decades, but he was able to not only fulfill the dream of returning to the place he was from, but he also pulled off buying the house of his dreams near where he grew up playing with his friends as a child, the attorney said.
Little did he know that his dream home would turn into the discovery a buried Seguin treasure.
“When it came time to finally move back home, I had been wanting to move back for many years, this house wasn’t even for sell,” Gaytan said. “I contacted the owner to negotiate the sale. That might tell you how much I wanted it.
“You’re not going to get a good price when you call to buy.”
He said he was given a “fair” price on the 100-year-old house on Nolte Street that required significant renovations before the Gaytan family of four could move in.
After greatly rehabbing the interior and exterior of the building and taking up residency there, Gaytan said his wife Claudia and daughter Victoria began to tackle the backyard. Paul and son, Samuel, pitched in but the ladies did much of the heavy lifting.
Once landscapers removed overgrown, nearly 20-feet-tall, invasive cane from the property, Claudia and Victoria started rooting around near the creek behind the house, Claudia said. And it was then that the family discovered a hidden jewel they never imagined would be there, she said.
“In that process after the cane had been cut down, we found a spring fed pool that had been created by the Civilian Conservation Corps at almost the middle of the hillside that was not visible apparently for at least five decades according to our neighbor who lives across the street and has lived there for at least 50 years,” Claudia said.
The pool was filled with debris, large rocks, brush and more, she said. As they cleared away much of the gunk, something miraculous started and made their hearts race, Claudia said.
“When we started to remove the debris, a lot of sludge and silt, we started hearing gurgling sounds,” she said. “Essentially, what we had done was unplugged the spring that was there inside the pool.”
The clear waters began flowing again. The pool filled and a spillway splashed excess water into the creek.
There’s still mud and junk to remove but the family can now see what is clearly a prized feature of their home, one that had been hidden for decades.
“It’s more like a sitting pool. We think it was designed so you can sit along the edge and put your feet in it,” Claudia said. “My husband has been working relentlessly on the weekends when he’s home from work trying to clean up the hillside. Once we get that taken care of, we’re going to help rebuild the retaining wall to prevent erosion so it looks pretty again.”
Getting to the bottom of the treasure has been a labor of love for Paul, Claudia said. They both appreciate having a man-made structure connected to the natural surroundings of the house.
It’s part of the charm of Seguin and part of the reason he returned, Paul said. He wants to help restore the pool and enhance the city’s beauty.
Helping clear the spring-fed pool, which can be seen from the sidewalk above, is one way he hopes to be an asset, Paul said.
“I think what’s most impressive is you have a natural wonder, you didn’t have to build an artificial pool,” he said. “You have a natural underground spring that’s providing that water to you, for you, and also providing that water for the creek.
“It’s, for lack of a better word, miraculous you can have that in your back yard, have that contributing to our creek.”