VIA Metropolitan Transit’s restoration of a historic building on Centro Plaza at VIA Villa is being recognized by the San Antonio Conservation Society with a 2018 Historic Preservation Award.
The restoration of the structure built in the early 20th century, which serves as a Joint Law Enforcement Center and the offices for VIA’s Transit Police Department, is one of 20 projects and individuals being recognized at the group’s annual dinner and awards ceremony March 28 at the San Antonio Country Club.
Individual honorees include retired union activist and VIA Board Member Bob Comeaux, who led a community effort to save a house in the Beacon Hill area from demolition. As a result, the city adopted an ordinance giving elderly or longtime homeowners, military veterans and those with chronic health problems more time to make repairs to avoid emergency demolition.
VIA’s two-story building being recognized was part of the one-square-block property on the West end of downtown which VIA purchased to create a state-of-the-art multi-modal transit center. The building was home to a printing/newspaper company on the ground level and the Washington Hotel on the second floor into the 1940s. The building also housed a flower shop and recording studio in the 1970s.
The building’s restoration was designed by the architectural firm of Ford, Powell & Carson, lead by Hector Machado and his team of Allison Chambers and Rachel Wright.
“We wanted to restore the structure as close to its original design as possible,” Machado said. “We kept the same large plate glass windows on the ground floor, the double-sash wooden windows on the second floor and the exterior canopy.”
Machado said the Conservation Society recognized the efforts by VIA and his firm to maintain the integrity of the building.
“There are so many of these structures throughout the city that don’t get restored,” Machado said. “We wanted to be historically accurate and they noticed. But I have to give VIA most of the credit, because they wanted to make sure it was done right, and it shows in the final product.”
The purpose of the San Antonio Conservation Society Historic Preservation Awards is to honor those who have reached the highest level of accomplishment in historic preservation and to recognize the quality of preservation work achieved in the built environment.
Building Preservation Awards
• 2340 S. Presa (built in 1923)
• Hangar 9, Brooks Air Force Base (built in 1918)
• Hannah Landa Memorial Branch Library (built in 1929)
• Landmark Inn State Historic Site (built in the 1850s)
• Maverick Building Apartments (built in 1922)
• Hotel Emma/Pearl Brewhouse Engine Rooms and Cellars (built in 1894)
• Malvina Nelson House (built in 1889)
• San Antonio River Walk / River Walk Bend (built in 1941)
• VIA Centro Plaza/Washington Hotel (built in 1905)
• Herff-Rozelle Farm (established in 1854)
Individual Preservation Awards
• Joe Ramos, Lynn Ford Craftsman Award
• Lewis S. Fisher and Lewis F. Fisher, Amanda Cartwright Taylor Award
• Allison Chambers, Bruce MacDougal Young Preservationist Award
2018 Texas Heroes of Historic Preservation Award recipients
• King William Association
• Bob Comeaux
• Carolyn Chipman Evans
• Harold Kempfer (deceased)
• Jean Heide
• Professor William Dupont