Recording of “Places of Color” panel discussion coming soon.
The Coalition for the Woolworth Building presented “Places of Color: Preserving San Antonio’s Underrepresented Narratives” as a virtual Dream Week event on January 20th. We focused on Alazán Courts, the 1875 foundation of the St. James AME Church, and the Woolworth Building, a World Monuments Fund 2020 Watch Site. These endangered historic sites physically connect us to overlooked stories in our shared heritage, speaking to the struggle for equity and justice.
We hope this event inspires you to actively support preservation of these sites by contacting public officials.
October 2020 –
Woolworth Building Included in Harvard University Lecture
Everett Fly, MLA spoke on “American Cultural Landscapes: Black Roots and Treasures” for the Frederick Law Olmstead lecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. He discusses the issue of recognizing Civil Rights and indigenous history on Alamo Plaza at 53:28.
Everett has received several awards for his ongoing contributions to African American history and to historic preservation, including a National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in 2014 and a San Antonio Power of Preservation Foundation “Champion of Preservation Award” in 2018. Most recently, he received one of the Conservation Society’s 2020 “Texas Preservation Hero” awards. We continue to be most grateful for his participation in the Coalition for the Woolworth Building.
The Waite Report: Alamo Trust consultants find a “strong potential for continued use” of the Woolworth Building
With the release of the Alamo Plaza Existing Buildings Historical Assessment report, we now have confirmation from the experts at John G. Waite Associates, Architects that the Crockett Block, Palace Theater Arcade, and Woolworth Building are structurally sound, retain their historic significance, and are suitable for reuse as a world-class museum!
Highlights from the findings (p.4) include:
- ‘The Crockett Block, Palace Theater Arcade, and Woolworth Building have a strong potential for continued use for a variety of new public and administrative museum spaces and functions for the Alamo Trust.”
- “If properly developed, in conjunction with adjacent new construction, all three buildings can act together as an appropriate physical and interpretive connection between the multiple layers of historic context represented by the Alamo and the downtown commercial core of San Antonio.”
- “The three buildings on Alamo Plaza can provide the opportunity for a unique twenty-first century museum experience that is innovatively housed within some of San Antonio’s most historically significant commercial architecture of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.”
Just to set the record straight, we learned from the report that we were mistaken about the location of an Express-News integration photo taken on March 16, 1960. The photo, which showed African Americans being served in a cafeteria line, had originally been identified by the photographer and by the institution holding it as Woolworth’s. It turned out to be Kress instead.
However, the photo of integration leader Mary Lillian Andrews sitting at a lunch counter with a friend that appeared in JET magazine (p. 21), has been confirmed by the report (and by Ms. Andrews’ brother) as having been staged at Woolworth’s. According to the report, Woolworth’s is the only one of the six integrated stores still standing that retains any physical evidence of its eating facilities (see report, p. 82).
September 2020 – World Monuments Fund Re-Emphasizes Support
On August 25, for the first time since World Monuments Fund (WMF) listed the San Antonio Woolworth building on the 2020 Watch, the Alamo Trust published an image relating to their proposed treatment of Alamo Plaza. The WMF responded with a post emphasizing the need to find a solution that preserves the building, while interpreting the site’s diverse history.
Professional Tour Guides Learn About Woolworth’s
The National Standard, the official newsletter of the National Federation of Tourist Guides Association, included an article about the Woolworth Building in its summer issue.
June 2020 – Juneteenth Video March
From June 3 to June 19th, we presented an eight video series of San Antonians speaking out about the importance of preserving the Woolworth Building as part of the vital, but under-told, story of African Americans in American history. You can support their efforts by contacting the government officials listed on our Call to Action page.
Deborah Omowale Jarmon, Executive Director of the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum.
March 2020 – 60th Anniversary of Lunch Counter Integration
“San Antonio’s lunch counters integrated 60 years ago” – San Antonio Express-News, Mar. 16.
“Editorial: Remembering S.A.’s civil rights history” – San Antonio Express-News, Mar. 14.