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San Antonio

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park Gets A New Superintendent

Mission San Jose, one of five missions in San Antonio designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The cultural aid agency has designated more than 1,000 such sites around the world — including more than 20 in the U.S. — to celebrate their "outstanding universal value."
Texas Public Radio
Mission San Jose, one of five missions in San Antonio designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The cultural aid agency has designated more than 1,000 such sites around the world — including more than 20 in the U.S. — to celebrate their "outstanding universal value."

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is getting a new superintendent — Christine Jacobs. Interim Superintendent Aaron Mahr said he is excited about her coming.

“Christine is currently a director of visitor services for the American Battle Monuments Commission in Paris, France,” he said.

Having fought in two European wars, the U.S. has quite a number of cemeteries with American soldiers buried there. As it turns out, Mahr has worked with Ms. Jacobs before.

“I actually knew Christine, several years ago. She was a regional ethnographer and tribal liaison specialist with the National Park Service,” Mahr said. “So I know her to be just a wonderful choice. And she's going to do a great job here in San Antonio.”

The superintendent will have to work with many partners associated with the Missions, including indigenous groups in Texas.

“I know she's very eager to come to San Antonio and kind of apply the international skills that she worked on in Paris and particularly with World Heritage sites around the world,” he said.

The San Antonio Missions Historical Park was also designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015, which Mahr said has made it more popular internationally.

“I can tell you there has been an increase in international interest in international visitation at the Missions,” he said.

Being superintendent over a National Park spread out over five different locations will have its challenges, but Mahr said he thinks he knows the biggest obstacle Jacobs will face.

“There are some preservation challenges we’re facing,” he said.

He’s talking about the buildings themselves, but it actually goes beyond that.

“We're not protecting just the four Mission sites, but also the cultural landscapes around them,” he said.

San Antonio Missions Park is a part of the National Parks Service, but the Mission buildings themselves belong to the archdiocese.

“It's just a really wonderful collaboration between the Archdiocese and the National Park Service and the surrounding communities also,” he said.

Mahr will soon return to his job with the National Trails Office in Santa Fe, and Jacobs — who is still in Paris — will begin her job in San Antonio on Oct. 26.