Trinity University has secured a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, and according to the register’s application reviewer for Texas, the university is home to one of the largest groupings of historically certified buildings on a Texas campus.
Most other schools have individual buildings on the list, but not large swaths of campus that qualify, said Paul Lusignan, who in addition to Texas reviews applications for 18 other states and territories for the National Register.
Acclaimed architect O’Neil Ford designed the majority of the university’s midcentury modern buildings, beginning in the mid-1940s with a campus master plan, and continuing his work through the 1960s. The campus is known for its distinctive red brick and clean architectural lines.
“This distinction honors the legacy of renowned San Antonio architect O’Neil Ford and the vision he shared with Trinity President James Laurie,” Trinity President Danny Anderson wrote in a prepared statement about the National Register, which is deemed the official list of the country’s historic places worthy of preservation.
Trinity spokeswoman Susie Gonzalez said the designation was granted on May 29 and encompasses 26 campus buildings, but included neither newer facilities on the “lower campus” nor athletic buildings that were not designed by Ford.
University officials noted that this designation plays a major role in Trinity’s campus master plan, Trinity Tomorrow, which emphasizes the need for the school to preserve buildings’ exteriors while renovating their interiors.
Trinity will still have “significant latitude to renovate the interiors of the buildings within the district,” according to a school press release.
When first forming Trinity Tomorrow, the university worked with Page, an Austin-based engineering and architecture firm. Larry Speck, senior principal at Page, researched Ford for the master plan, and encouraged the university to seek historic designation, which could help secure alternative grants and funding streams in the future.
Page officials said Trinity is one of three modernist campuses nationwide and the only modernist school in Texas to achieve this designation.
The National Parks Service designated Trinity’s campus as a National Historic District in late May, and the Texas Historic Commission approved the school’s nomination as a registered Historic District in January.
The National Register counts more than 90,000 properties on its list.