Sign the Petition, Save the ITC Building!

Front of Institute of Texan Cultures building with international flags flying
Photo by Gordon Schults

PETITION TO SAVE THE ITC BUILDING

Please sign and share on social media!  As members of the public, let’s show we have a strong interest in seeing this nationally significant landmark preserved and reused.

We also have a printable flyerPlease email bstandifird@saconservation.org if you would like a PDF version.

As of May 14, 2024, we have surpassed 1,000 signatures.  Let’s keep the momentum going strong! The petition has recently been featured in the USModernist newsletter and MySA, the San Antonio Express-News free content site.

UPDATE

May 15The Institute of Texan Cultures Museum will close at the end of May.  All are invited to a free open house at the ITC on Friday, May 31st, from 10:oo AM to 4:00 PM.  The event will include opportunities to share and record memories.   In the meantime, the ITC remains open Thurs. – Sun. from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  Admission is by donation.

Apr. 19 – The Conservation Society’s Executive Director, Dr. Vincent Michael, provides perspective in his most recent blog post: “Only downtown landmark by a Mexican-American architect to be demolished.”

As we celebrate the endangered building’s official listing on the National Register of Historic Places, keep in mind that less than 4% of National Register listings relate to Latino history or design.   In 2014, the first Spanish language TV station in the United States – Univision – was demolished in downtown San Antonio despite being eligible for the National Register.

UTSA Announces Plans to Demolish ITC Building

Apr. 3 – UTSA has announced, “In order to be as flexible as possible as next steps are evaluated, the university will issue a Request for Proposals to remove the Texas Pavilion, ensuring plans can move forward depending on how the land is eventually redeveloped. UTSA will continue to work directly with the Texas Historical Commission to ensure that the legacy of the Texas Pavilion is properly documented and celebrated.”

“UTSA takes next strategic steps to ensure bold future for the Institute of Texan Cultures” – UTSA Today

So, why does UTSA’s “bold future” consist of repeating common development mistakes from the past: destroying a nationally significant landmark (eligible for rehabilitation tax credits) and ignoring best practices in environmental sustainability?

And why, in San Antonio – the birthplace of the Mexican American Civil Rights movement – is the public expected to make to due with empty commemorations instead of the actual historic sites that honor this unique aspect of our heritage?

“UTSA to raze Institute of Texan Cultures building and construct new home for museum” – San Antonio Express-News

Feb. 22 – The UT Board of Regents voted to allow UTSA conditional approval to enter into talks about selling or leasing the Institute of Texan Cultures property to the City.  Despite the speculation about the Spurs possibly returning to Hemisfair, no one is speaking on the record about the particulars.

Only Downtown Landmark Designed by Mexican American Architect

Jan. 30 – Yet another reason to come together to repurpose the Texas Pavilion (Institute of Texan Cultures building):  the design influence of architect Willie Pena, one of the few prominent Mexican American architects of the 20th century.  He served as an unnamed partner with the firm of Caudill, Rowlett, & Scott, which designed the building.  This letter to the State Board of Review documents the significant connection between the Institute of Texan Cultures and Mexican American Civil Rights.

Jan. 13, 2024 – the State Board of Review approved the nomination of the Texas Pavilion (Institute of Texan Cultures building) to the National Register of Historic Places.  Nine speakers traveled to the Galveston meeting to support the nomination in person, while UTSA opposed it. The board’s approval is the first step in the nomination process. It is now up to the State Historic Preservation Officer to send the nomination on to the National Parks Service for final approval.

MEDIA COVERAGE

Likely site for new San Antonio Spurs arena could be sold or leased to the city – San Antonio Express-News, Feb. 22, 2024.

UTSA gets ‘conditional approval’ to sell or lease Hemisfair property to city – San Antonio Report, Feb. 22, 2024.

Commentary: Trailblazing Hispanic architect left out of Institute of Texan Cultures storySan Antonio Express-News, Jan. 30, 2024.

¡Que Viva Willie Peña!, courtesy of Dr. Sarah Zenaida Gould, MACRI Executive Director.

Learn more about one of the most prominent Mexican American architects of the last century, William Merriweather Peña (1919-2018).

“On the Record,” Jan. 18. 2024 – KLRN

Society member Betty Bueche discusses the building’s potential with Randy Beamer (after interview with Councilman Pelaez).  Betty is the former Director of Bexar County Heritage and Parks Department, the first woman Park Superintendent for Texas Parks and Wildlife, and a recipient of Texas Historical Commission’s Ruth Lester Lifetime Achievement Award.

Institute for Texan Cultures seeks designation that might save it – Texas Public Radio, Jan. 16, 2024

Society President Kathy Krnavek and Executive Director Vincent Michael speak to Jack Morgan about the advantages of National Register designation for the building’s future re-use.

National Register listing for Institute of Texan Cultures site gets state OK. What does that mean?San Antonio Express-News, Jan. 16, 2024

State board approves historic listing for Institute of Texan Cultures – KSAT-12, Jan. 16, 2024

Group seeks historic designation for ITC amid UTSA’s objectionSan Antonio Report, Jan. 13. 2024

 

THANK YOU TO OUR SUPPORTERS

On Behalf of the Conservation Society of San Antonio:

Thanks to all of you for your energy and commitment over long months to this cause.

The presentations in Galveston were excellent.  We are so grateful for those who saw us off from the Texas Pavilion/ITC building on Friday.

So many thanks to all who wrote or submitted statements online – it was an overwhelming show of support and a testament to all those who got the word out to their members and friends. The count we heard was 47 written letters and roughly 200 received via e-mail!

BACKGROUND

The Texas Pavilion (Institute of Texan Cultures or ITC) is one of HemisFair ‘68’s largest and most distinctive original buildings. Built as a permanent structure by the State of Texas, it has served as a museum of diverse Texan cultures for over 50 years. It meets National Register criteria for historic and architectural significance. The draft nomination is currently available online.

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) plans to move the museum to a location closer to the Alamo. They want to sell the ITC building. The Conservation Society’s only concern is the future of this iconic Hemisfair building – and the National Register can help the next owner preserve and reuse it!

Listing on the National Register of Historic Places allows a developer to take advantage of preservation tax incentives worth 45% of all rehab costs! That means a $50 million project costs the developer only $27.5 million!  The nomination does not, however, prevent demolition.

The former Texas Pavilion, designed by the Houston firm of Caudill, Rowlett & Scott, anchors the east end of Hemisfair Park, making HemisFair one of the least altered of the post-WW II world’s fair sites.  Let’s help keep it that way!

Supporters rally at the Texas Pavlion/Institute of Texan Cultures building.

This image is copyrighted.

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