The missions’ transformation from crumbling curiosities to an internationally acclaimed World Heritage site could not have happened without the San Antonio Conservation Society. Our efforts began just two years after the organization’s founding in 1924. Members purchased the doors to the San José Granary to save the bronze medallions from souvenir hunters. Soon, the Society found itself invested in a decades-long effort to preserve and restore the buildings and lands of San Antonio’s southern Missions, including the San Jose granary itself, the Espada aqueduct and dam, the San Juan acequia, and acres of mission farmlands.
In 1941, the Society brokered the establishment of a state park at San Jose Mission with the Catholic Church. We proved critical to the creation of the Missions National Historical Park in 1978, and in 2006, we organized the UNESCO World Heritage nomination that led to inscription in 2015.
See below for a detailed chronology of the Society’s contributions towards preserving the mission structures and elevating their cultural status. Or, view our Virtual Exhibit showcasing the history of the missions with historic materials from our library.