Conserving historic sites goes beyond protecting a physical structure. Heritage preservation takes into account the identities and values that bind people to places. It is an ongoing effort in a city that’s best known for its historical significance. The University of Texas at San Antonio has been exploring over 300 years of cultural heritage in South and Central Texas.
William Dupont and Angela Lombardi, Ph.D, said the Alamo City is a prime location for their heritage preservation research, with its deep historical roots intertwined with a rich culture that defines the city.
Dupont, founder of UTSA’s Center for Cultural Sustainability, and Lombardi, coordinator of UTSA’s Historic Preservation Program, have explored how the city’s current growth rate could have a negative impact on cultural heritage if not planned carefully.
They argued that rapid economic development not only has a high potential to displace people, but can also disrupt living heritage and destroy historical significance. Their research seeks to inform policymakers, community leaders and designers on what can be done in order to protect the city’s cultural heritage for future generations.
“It's not just the physical things,” Dupont said. “It's these things that are connected to people's memories and their beliefs and their spirituality. That's what's really important about historic preservation.”
Dupont and Lombardi have extensive experience in conservation projects and have had their fair share of disputes with policymakers when they disagree with their research findings. However, they continue to advocate for the importance of preservation and recognize cultural heritage is a fragile topic.
“It's a public policy issue,” Lombardi said. “It's very important that professionals from different fields work together in order to find solutions and also to understand the cultural aspects of neighborhood.”
Dupont and Lombardi’s research also places a strong emphasis on their work with UTSA students, as they help prepare our future leaders who will continue exploring the importance of preserving resources, infrastructure and heritage for future generations.