SA Conservation Society Op-Ed: NIOSA, the Purpose Beyond the Party

Barb Machado is the fourth vice president of the San Antonio Conservation Society and the chairman of “A Night In Old San Antonio.” She wrote this op-ed on the legacy of NIOSA.

NIOSA Posters from 1983 - 2014

What do a taco and the historic buildings of San Antonio have in common?  Not much, unless the taco is sold at “A Night In Old San Antonio®” (NIOSA®), which in turn fuels the historic preservation efforts and programs of the San Antonio Conservation Society. Think about it. Where would San Antonio be, without the Conservation Society protecting its historic buildings and parks? Here are just some of the treasures that are now taken for granted, but would not exist anymore if not for our Conservation Society leaders using NIOSA proceeds to battle for the landmarks’ existence:
  • San Pedro Park (almost became part of San Antonio College), 1947
  • Bombach Building (now Little Rhein Steakhouse), 1949
  • José Antonio Navarro House complex (now the José Antonio Navarro State Historical Park),1953
  • 22 historic buildings in HemisFair (now the centerpiece of the proposed HemisFair Redevelopment), 1965
  • Old Ursuline Academy, 1965 (now Southwest School of Art)
  • landmark status for 500 acres of Fort Sam Houston, 1976
  • a bill creating San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, 1979
  • Rand Building, 1981 (now Rackspace’s Geekdom Geekdom)
  • Fairmount Hotel (relocation sets world record), 1985
  • Aztec Theatre, 1988
  • $250,000 to restoration of Majestic Theatre, 1989
  • $300,000 to San Pedro Playhouse, 1994
  • $100,000 toward move and reassembly of Sullivan Carriage House (now entrance of SA Botanical Garden), 1995
  • $50,000 towards reuse of the Hays Street Bridge as hike and bike trail, 2001
  • $300,000 for the restoration of the Bexar County Courthouse, 2002
  • Historic Farms and Ranches committee formed to survey endangered historic farms and ranches in Bexar County and update the 1973 Bexar County survey, 2006 to present
  • local landmark designation for ten historic farms and ranches, 2008
  • State Archeological Landmark and local landmark designations obtained for Alamo Stadium to ensure oversight for renovations proposed by SAISD, 2012
And we don’t only save large buildings. Using NIOSA proceeds, the Society has awarded $1.8 million since 1990 for the restoration of historic homes and commercial buildings 50 years or older, and for educational projects relating to historic preservation. To most people, “A Night in Old San Antonio” is simply a favorite Fiesta event. NIOSA attracts more than 85,000 revelers each year by celebrating San Antonio’s diverse cultural heritage through fabulous food and entertainment. But it isn’t until after the last cascarón is cracked, the last tamale sold, and our 10,000 dedicated volunteers go home, tired and sore, that the real work can begin -- it is the proceeds from NIOSA that allow the San Antonio Conservation Society to carry out its mission.

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