The 1921 Woolworth Building in Alamo Plaza is on a new list of 25 heritage sites worldwide that are described as threatened, potentially boosting its standing in the often stormy debate over its future.
Controversy long has surrounded the state-owned building, which stands on the same spot as the Alamo fort’s west wall, scene of some of the heaviest fighting during the famous 1836 battle for Texas independence.
Described as a symbol of “interracial cooperation,” the Woolworth Building housed one of San Antonio’s first lunch counters to integrate. But it’s a milestone that preservationists say has faded from public memory as the Battle of the Alamo overshadows other historical events.
City, state and nonprofit officials leading the massive overhaul of Alamo Plaza have said they may incorporate the historic Woolworth Building, 1923 Palace theater and 1882 Crockett Building, all owned by the Texas General Land Office, into the design of a new, $150 million 130,000-square-foot museum and visitor facility.
But they haven’t ruled out the possibility of partial or full demolition of the three buildings.
Preservation groups say the Woolworth Building remains an icon on its own merit, as the location of one of seven local lunch counters that peacefully integrated on the same day in 1960, putting San Antonio briefly in a national spotlight when lunch counter segregation was at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement, with protests, arrests and violence occurring in other U.S. cities.
The Woolworth Building has many fans and its own organization: the Coalition for the Woolworth Building. It’s made up of the Conservation Society, Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, San Antonio Branch of the NAACP, Westside Preservation Alliance and San Antonio African American Community Archive & Museum.
For more information contact: