The Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) preserves and promotes the cultural, social, archaeological, and economic heritage of San Antonio. OHP seeks to support new development and growth while protecting community character and cultural heritage. OHP initiatives are focused on identification, designation, treatment of culturally significant places and economic sustainability through socially inclusive practices, development of innovative and proactive methods of preservation, education and outreach, and the revitalization of traditional building crafts and trades.Our office promotes preservation through the creation of local historic districts and local individual landmarks. Along with the Historic and Design Review Commission(HDRC), OHP oversees a design review process for exterior alterations to historic landmarks and districts, properties within the RIO districts (spanning the San Antonio River), public properties, and public art to ensure that modifications and changes are appropriate for historic resources. We coordinate with other City departments to comply with required environmental review processes to protect historic resources.OHP is also committed to historic preservation outreach and education. We have established aPreservation Academy to host lectures, workshops, and events promoting historic preservation to the community. We have offered window restoration workshops, a HistoricHomeowner’s Fair, and many other activities to share information about caring for historic resources. Visit our website for more information.
As with many cities around the world, San Antonio is experiencing the pressures of supporting new economic development and growth while protecting community character and cultural heritage. Here, the past and the future co-exist between multiple layers of history, cultures, and social identities. San Antonio reveres this unique heritage.
The Living Heritage program works to develop innovative treatments to better protect culturally significant properties and intangible heritage. Traditional design guidelines, which are typically focused on architecture, aren’t necessarily sufficient to guide in decision-making when dealing with resources that weren’t identified based on architectural significance, and these cases can be difficult for staff, the Historic Design and Review Commission, and for the community.
San Antonio is not alone in dealing with these issues, so we work with policymakers, heritage professionals, academics, community organizations, neighborhood advocates, and activists to develop tools and strategies that help better manage cultural heritage and sustainable development while promoting living heritage to benefit the community, bolster resilient communities, and ensure a thriving future.
UNESCO views living heritage as intangible culture defining it as “the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills—as well as the instruments, objects, artifacts, and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.”
Communities around the world use similar definitions, specifically focusing on how our way of being in the world is based on what we have learned from parents, grandparents, extended families, and our communities. OHP embraces these definitions and considers tools and strategies to help preserve these ways of life and cultural traditions in a growing city.