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City to save West side with preservation survey

Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012

Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 15:09

mural 9-13-2012 courtesy

Courtesy photo


Since February 2011, the city’s Office of Historic Preservation has focused on recognizing a number of West Side buildings as landmarks.

Properties deemed historical after review of information collected in the Westside Cultural Resource Survey will be protected from demolition and alteration.

Elizabeth Porterfield, the lead architectural historian in the Office of Historic Preservation stressed the importance of the area.

“The city is preserving and protecting history by increasing awareness,” she said. “The survey currently has plans to save 90 properties and two districts, Prospect Hill and Southcross, through landmark designation.”

Nicholas Fuqua, a planner for the project, said, “Landmark designation is an ordinance passed which uses zoning measures to prevent hasty demolition of landmarks.”

The designation regulates exterior changes and requires approval for modifications.

Porterfield said an incentive plan would allow potential landmarks to qualify for tax exemptions and owner-occupants for loans.

All buildings being considered must meet a minimum three of 16 criteria based on architectural, historical and cultural relevance.

The properties in the program range from Belgian silos to tuberculosis cottages to popular restaurants as well as churches, fire stations, bakeries, former gas stations, funeral homes, corner grocers and a pharmacy.

Fifteen murals, such as the Resendiz mural at 534 S. Gen. McMullen are included in the survey.

According to the survey website, other landmarks of interest are Our Lady of the Lake University and the adjacent Elmendorf Lake and Park and award-winning comedian Carol Burnett’s childhood home.

“Some landmarks are at least 50 years old, but potential landmarks are also chosen for their significance to West Side history,” Porterfield said. “Community helpers have researched and learned the stories behind the landmarks and want the public to have access.”

Most entries in the survey, available in four locations downtown and on the West side, include Bazan Library, 2200 W. Commerce; Guadalupe Street Coffee, 1320 Guadalupe; Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, 922 San Pedro Ave.; and the Office of Historic Preservation, 1901 S. Alamo.

The Westside Historic Preservation Alliance is assisting in the project.

On Aug. 13, city officials met with property owners and advocates to collect additional information on properties in the survey. “More recent properties will be in the second phase of the survey. This is an ongoing project,” Porterfield said.

By Saturday’s deadline, the preservation office would like community feedback about which landmarks deserve consideration and why.

The survey asks for information on potential landmarks and community feedback on properties already under consideration.

As part of Fotoseptiembre, an month-long international photography festival, photographs of some of the city’s historic buildings will be on display through Oct. 13 with the Somos San Antonio exhibit at the Villa Finale Visitor Center, 122 Madison. For more information on the exhibit, call 223-9800 ext. 34323 or visit

For more information on the survey, call the historic preservation office at 210-215-9274 or visit The survey is available under Events and Announcements.

Visit under 2012 Exhibitions and Events Calendar for a schedule of Fotoseptiembre exhibits.

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