HRDC Backs Nomination of St. John’s Seminary for National Historic Register

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Broken and boarded up windows are visible in most of the buildings in St. John’s Catholic Seminary site next to Mission Concepción.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Broken and boarded up windows are visible in most of the buildings in St. John’s Catholic Seminary site next to Mission Concepción.

The Historic and Design Review Commission on Wednesday approved supporting the Texas Historical Commission’s nomination of the St. John’s Seminary property to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Southside seminary at 222 E. Mitchell St. is the site of a planned redevelopment project by local firm 210 Development Group. The project involves renovations of three historic structures at the former seminary site, and construction of seven new buildings.

Those new structures would include a mixed-income apartment complex and new office and public meeting space for the Archdiocese of San Antonio. The archdiocese owns acreage around the nearby Mission Concepción.

HDRC approved a design for a revised project plan this past summer.

Holly Thoman, communications director for 210 Development, said her company backs the nomination of the site to the National Register of Historic Places.

“We’ve always seen a historic title for the property as part of our redevelopment plans,” Thoman said.

Ximena Copa-Wiggins, public relations manager for the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP), said National Register designation is necessary to be able to take advantage of historic tax credits for preservation and redevelopment projects. The OHP reviews all proposed historic designations inside City limits.

Patti Zaiontz, first vice president of the San Antonio Conservation Society governing board, delivered a short message from board President Susan Beavin in support of the nomination of the seminary and two other properties: 900 Broadway and Trinity University. The HDRC approved all three nominations by consent agenda.

Documents on the seminary nomination highlight how three buildings served as education service space for the archdiocese from 1920 through 1952: “The three buildings are significant for their inherent architectural quality as excellent examples of Italian Renaissance, with regional influences.”

The Broadway building, originally built in the 1920s, hosted different car dealerships over several earlier decades, as well as a sporting goods store and an antiques shop.

The HDRC in November approved Ridgemont Properties’ plan to restore and repurpose the structure for loft office space for startup companies.

According to the OHP’s documents on the Trinity nomination, establishing a formal historic district around Trinity is key to the university’s new campus master plan.

The proposed district includes a total of 34 buildings and structures containing the world’s largest concentration of buildings designed by Texas architect O’Neil Ford and his associates. These buildings were completed between 1952 and 1979. Trinity has been celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2017.

The Texas Historical Commission’s State Board of Review plans to consider all National Register nominations from around Texas at a Jan. 20 meeting in Austin.

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