Front of Hughes House

In the Media

San Antonio Heron: “Preservationists helpless as Archdiocese seeks to demolish 108-year-old home in Tobin Hill


San Antonio Report: “Tobin Hill home at risk of demolition due to state law designed to shield religious entities


The Historic Design and Review Commission hearing for a finding of historic significance has been rescheduled to January.  Regardless of the decision, the Archdiocese will be able to proceed with demolition, if they so choose.

The History

Internationally famous dancer Russell (La Meri) Hughes (1898-1988) grew up in this 1913 Prairie style home at 312 W. Courtland, where she gave some of her earliest performances.  She went on to become known as the “undisputed queen of ethnic dance,” later teaching dance in New York City and publishing several books.

The Archdiocese of San Antonio purchased this architectural gem in 1965, using it as a Catholic Student Center for 50 years.


The Threat

The Archdiocese recently applied for a demolition permit at the request of a prospective buyer that remains unnamed.

A recent, untested state law exempts religious institutions from applicable preservation regulations, making it easier for the Archdiocese to get a demolition permit than a secular owner.


Demolition of this landmark-worthy building is environmentally irresponsible and a waste of architectural and financial resources, regardless of who initiates it.  The house has not been listed for sale on the open market to assess interest in new uses.

Ask the Archdiocese to withdraw its demolition request and look for a buyer willing to reuse the Hughes House. 

Contact the Most Reverend Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller through his executive assistants: or

Update regarding San Antonio College: On January 7, 2022, the Tobin Hill Neighborhood Association received a letter from Dr. Robert Vela, President of San Antonio College, stating that “SAC intends no involvement in any potential demolition of the former Catholic Student Center,” nor is it interested in purchasing the property from the Archdiocese.  We thank the college for respecting the wishes of the neighborhood by not attempting to redevelop the property since it doesn’t want to improve and maintain the house.

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