People And Places And People

December 6, 2017 History, Intangible Heritage, Interpretation, Texas Comments (0) 630

This year at PastForward, the National Preservation Conference, the National Trust for Historic Preservation focused on People Saving Places.  “People” is operative, because for many – notably wonky architectural historians like myself – it had often been about buildings. Even for those in the planning profession, it had been a technical question rather than a human one.  That is wrong.

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A San Antonio surprise

November 4, 2017 Historic Districts, Texas, Vision and Style Comments (1) 2337

So here is the photo I posted on my first day at work nearly a year and a half ago.

This is the main office of the San Antonio Conservation Society, and has been so since 1974, when the organization was already 50 years old.  It is the Anton Wulff House, built in 1870 and described as Italianate style.  This is reasonable since it has that Tuscan tower, those paired windows and doors and other hallmarks of the most popular style in America from 1850 to 1880.

After the tower and the main front-facing gabled mass, there is a half-gable mass that almost reads like an addition, but everyone assured me the building was built this way.

Maybe it is the nature of the slightly irregular limestone blocks, but that last mass (which contains my office) seemed less designed, reflective perhaps of the isolated and emergent city some seven years before the railroad arrived.

What did seem clear was a complete absence of any influence from Anton Wulff’s home country, Germany, and specifically the Alsace region adjacent to France.  Alsatians had clearly brought European architecture to nearby Castroville at the same time.

Huth House, Castroville, 1846.

But I was wrong because I did not have an encyclopedic knowledge of early 19th century high style European architecture.  If I had, I would have recognized a homage to the MOST famous German architect of the 19th century, Friedrich Schinkel, he of the Altes Museum.  In 1829, Schinkel designed the Römische Bäder, an expressionistic complex at Potsdam for the romantic Prussian Friedrich Wilhelm IV.  This is what it looked like:

Credit for this discovery goes to Michael Guarino, who left me a stack of images of the structure.  All of a sudden the Wulff House had a fairly grand legacy, and that half-gabled section made sense for the first time.

 

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Conservation of Living Heritage

September 1, 2017 Blog, Intangible Heritage, Texas Comments (0) 1037

The San Antonio Conservation Society was at the cutting edge of heritage conservation in 1924, focusing not only on buildings but the cultural landscape, including “customs” that we now call intangible heritage.  This week, San Antonio remains at the cutting edge of the heritage conservation field.

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A dozen years and counting

August 1, 2017 Historic Districts, House Museums, House Museums, Interpretation, Texas Comments (0) 689

Twelve years and 502 blogs ago, I began “Time Tells” – my little blog about heritage conservation, architecture, planning, technology and economics.  I have moved three times in those dozen years and now live in San Antonio, one of the pioneering preservation places in the United States.

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HemisFair at 50

July 12, 2017 Blog, Texas, Vision and Style Comments (0) 1476

San Antonio is gearing up for its Tricentennial next year, but there is another important milestone as well.  Continue Reading

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Viva FIESTA!

May 6, 2017 Blog, Intangible Heritage, Texas, Vision and Style Comments (0) 868

This year marked both my first rodeo and my first Fiesta, which is San Antonio’s 126-year old celebration of the Battle of San Jacinto.  The greatest party during the 10-day Fiesta is the San Antonio Conservation Society’s A Night In Old San Antonio®, which runs four consecutive nights.

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Alamo Plaza: Design and Program

April 16, 2017 Interpretation, Texas, Vision and Style Comments (0) 940

The Alamo Plaza Reimagined team released a video with images of the proposed redesign of Alamo Plaza this week.  The reaction has been a mix of concerns, but most seem focused on the large, vacant plaza surrounded by glass walls.

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Latest Issues in San Antonio

March 10, 2017 Blog, History, Interpretation, Texas, Vision and Style Comments (3) 1693

Things have been busy at the San Antonio Conservation Society, not only because our major fundraiser Night In Old San Antonio® is coming up next month, but because it is Spring already and a host of development and legislative issues are heating up.

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The Value of Heritage

February 4, 2017 Economics, Sustainability, Texas Comments (0) 1149

When a lover of history, architecture, or neighborhoods sees an historic building or district, they value it.  They want to save it, to preserve that value. Continue Reading

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