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Conservation Society proposes landmark status for Institute of Texan Cultures


The Conservation Society of San Antonio announced its plan to secure historical landmark status for the Institute of Texan Cultures on Saturday.

At an event at the ITC, Society officials announced that they recruited Nesta Anderson, an archaeologist and historian, to compose the proposal for submission to both the National Register of Historic Places and the Texas Historical Commission.

The applications are part of a larger campaign to save the building, which is one of the few remaining buildings from HemisFair '68, but its status in recent years has been in doubt.

“If you think back to (HemisFair '68), which is arguably the single most important event in San Antonio history, this was one of the anchors of (HemisFair '68)," explained Vincent Michael, executive director of the Society. "It is one of the important remnants of that defining event for San Antonio.”

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Arts & Culture News Desk including The Guillermo Nicolas & Jim Foster Art Fund, Patricia Pratchett, and the V.H. McNutt Memorial Foundation.

The move by the Conservation Society would make preservation funds available and demolition a less likely option.

“What the National Register offers more significantly is tax credits," Michael added, "which in Texas, you're talking about up to 45% of the rehab value could be taken as a tax credit.”

Attendees listen to speakers at the Institute of Texan Cultures on August 13th, 2022
Conservation Society of San Antonio
Attendees listen to speakers at the Institute of Texan Cultures on August 13th, 2022

The facility is owned by the University of Texas at San Antonio. That kind of money could give UTSA an additional reason to preserve and rehab the 55 year-old building.

Dr. Yvonne Katz is a founder of the Alumni Association at UTSA and is a volunteer for the institute's conservation efforts. "It's an iconic structure. It was built as a permanent structure for Hemisphere 68, and it can be renovated and made to have new uses of it. New retail space inside. Artistic museum space inside," she said.

Michael also pointed out that most HemisFair '68 buildings were built to be temporary. But not the ITC. “This building was purposefully built to last," he said, "and it was purposefully designed to be this very special museum that celebrated the diversity of Texan culture.”

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Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii