The Conservation Society of San Antonio

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Preservation Alert: Celebrate 61st Anniversary of Lunch Counter Integration on March 16, 2021 commemorations on Alamo Plaza and online.

Save the Woolworth Building!

The front of the Woolworth Building on Alamo Plaza.
San Antonio’s Woolworth Building is one of three U.S. sites on the 2020 World Monuments Watch List.

See events and media coverage at Latest Woolworth Building News.

Watch the recorded presentation “Places of Color: Preserving San Antonio’s Underrepresented Narratives.”  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.

Banner for Places of Color Presentation

Color postcard looking west on Houston Street from Alamo Plaza. Woolworth Building on left.
The Woolworth Building (left), c. 1957.

About the Woolworth Building

Prominently located on Alamo Plaza across from the Alamo, the Woolworth Building stands as a visible link to an important Civil Rights achievement.  In 1960, it helped San Antonio become the site of the first peaceful, voluntary lunch counter integration of the national sit-in movement.  Learn more with this printable brochure.

Cause For Concern

Since the 2016 rediscovery of the building’s historic significance, advocates have been trying to persuade the State of Texas to reuse the building (or at least its facades) as part of the new Alamo museum planned for this site. After the 2018 Alamo Interpretive Plan cast doubt on the building’s fate, the Conservation Society joined with allies in the African American and Hispanic communities to form the Coalition for the Woolworth Building.

In 2019, the Conservation Society released a Coalition-backed compromise proposal.  It illustrated how multiple layers of the plaza’s 300-year-old history could be interpreted while retaining the Woolworth Building’s walls. The Society of Architectural Historians sent a letter to Governor Greg Abbott supporting this solution. In October, an international panel elevated the Woolworth Building to the world stage by including it on the World Monuments Fund’s 2020 Watch List.

Please join this global preservation effort by contacting the government officials listed on the left!   

World Monuments Fund CEO speaks out from Alamo Plaza


Benedicte de Montlaur interview courtesy of David Arias-Rios, Jan. 31, 2020.

“World Monuments advocate touts keeping Woolworth site” – San Antonio Express-News, Jan 31.

About the World Monuments Watch List

The 2020 World Monuments Watch helps communities protect their irreplaceable sites for future generations. The Woolworth Building is one of 25 international sites (and just one of three in the U.S.) on the 2020 Watch list.

We are included in this powerful World Monuments Fund video, and have been featured in the New York Times, and on CNN.  Many thanks to Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff for his steadfast support!

However, even as we celebrate this milestone, we must stay active as preservation advocates.  None of the building’s historic designations – local, state, or national – can prevent demolition. Please: 

    • Continue to contact government officials.
    • Help share our story on social media with these tags and handles:  #WorldMonumentsFund #WMF.  Twitter and Facebook: @worldmonuments, Instagram: @worldmonumentsfund.

Other ways to help

Contact the Following Government Officials

Only ongoing, visible, and vocal public support for preservation may help persuade the GLO to reuse the Woolworth Building as part of the new Alamo museum.

Governor Greg Abbott
Phone: (512) 463-2000 (Main Switchboard: 8AM – 5PM)

George P. Bush, Commissioner, Texas General Land Office
Phone: 1-800-998-4GLO (4456)

Representative Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (State Culture, Recreation & Tourism Committee)
Phone: (512) 463-0708 (Capitol) or (210) 333-0245 (District Office)

Senator José Menéndez (District 26 – Downtown San Antonio)
Phone: (512) 463-0126 (Capitol) or (210) 733-6604 (District Office)

Representative Will Hurd (U.S. District 23 and Alamo Management Committee)
Phone: (210) 921-3130

Mayor Ron Nirenberg (City of San Antonio)
Phone: (210) 207-7107

Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (City of San Antonio, Council District 3 and Alamo Management Committee Chair)
Phone: (210) 207-7064

Supporters of preserving the Woolworth Building carry a banner and signs in the MLK March
The Coalition for the Woolworth Building sends a message during the 2020 MLK March.

Our Coalition

The Coalition for the Woolworth Building is a grass-roots advocacy group. We support the preservation of the Woolworth Building and want to build on its presence in Alamo Plaza to share an integrated history that includes African Americans. Members include: San Antonio Branch NAACP; San Antonio African American Community Archives and Museum; San Antonio for Growth on the East Side; Esperanza Peace and Justice Center; Westside Preservation Alliance; Mexican American Civil Rights Institute; concerned historians, civic leaders, and community members; and The Conservation Society of San Antonio.

Group photo of Woolworth Watch Day attendess.
Watch Day attendees come together to support the Woolworth Building on Feb. 1, 2020.

 

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