Our Mission

person in a blue shirt and hat standing in front of a house

The mission of the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) is to safeguard the cultural, economic, and environmental sustainability that preserves San Antonio’s unique sense of place, economic competitiveness, and authenticity.

Our city has been shaped by our colorful history, and our built environment helps to tell our story. We want our neighborhoods and commercial districts to continue to tell the story of our history to those who come after us. Preserving our built environment creates a sense of belonging, a collective memory, and a sense of pride in our past.

At the micro-level, we believe that every “old” building should be viewed as an opportunity, not an obstacle. They are opportunities to preserve and leverage our built environment in a sustainable and meaningful way. Our existing buildings also play an important role in advancing other city-wide goals including supporting livable communities, affordable housing options, and climate change readiness.

Historic building

About Historic Preservation

The Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) protects the historic, cultural, architectural, and archaeological resources of San Antonio.

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
  • public art

This is to ensure that modifications and changes are appropriate for historic resources. OHP also coordinates with other departments to follow required environmental review processes to protect historic resources.

OHP is committed to historic preservation outreach and education. We have established a Preservation Academy to host lectures, workshops, and events promoting historic preservation to the community.

Why Preservation Is Important

Humble Oil Building Historic Preservation is about telling the story of our city, neighborhoods, and homes through our built environment.  Ask anyone what they love about San Antonio and their answers will always involve historic preservation. Perfect examples include:

  • Riverwalk
  • Downtown neighborhoods
  • The Alamo and The Steves House
  • Historic open spaces like Hemisfair and San Pedro Park

We preserve to protect our quality of life, our pride of place and our sense of community. We also preserve so that we can pass on to future generations San Antonio’s rich past. To do that, we need to save local landmarks and preserve the eclectic mix of residential and commercial architecture unique to our community.

We want our neighborhoods and commercial districts to continue to tell their stories by preserving the condition of our historic resources and giving them new life and new purpose. 

Preservation is not about longing for the past or resisting progress. It’s about building on the past toward the future. A preservationist is by definition looking forward and impacting the future.

Historic Preservation Program

Tudor style home

The purpose of the Office of Historic Preservation is to preserve and protect the unique historic structures, archaeological sites, and design features of San Antonio. On August 10, 1967, City Council passed and approved an enabling ordinance that created the Board of Review for historic districts. The ordinance also set forth the rules and guidelines for creating historic districts, regulations for exterior changes to historic structures and sites, and the process concerning applications for permits.

In May 1968, the City created the first local historic district, King William, and appointed the first Board of Review members. The Board advised the Director of Housing and Inspections on all applications for permits within the Historic District. Today the Board is known as the Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) and consists of eleven (11) members.