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Feb 18th
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Home Things to Do Festivals Restoration Work on San Antonio’s Historic La Villita Should Be Completed In Time for April’s ‘Night In Old San Antonio’ Festival

Restoration Work on San Antonio’s Historic La Villita Should Be Completed In Time for April’s ‘Night In Old San Antonio’ Festival

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La Villita, San Antonio's five-acre historic village with roots that date back to the 1700s, is getting a much-needed remodeling that should be finished in time for the city's annual "Night In Old San Antonio" fiesta, April 20-23.

While more work needs to be done to the village, the nearly $1.8 million allocated to the restoration will help refurbish and strengthen eight historic buildings, and some adobe walls, and upgrade some existing restroom facilities to be handicap-accessible.

"La Villita is San Antonio's first neighborhood, which originally housed Spanish soldiers stationed at the Mission San Antonio Valero," Colleen Swain, Assistant Director of Downtown Operations for the City of San Antonio, told OldWestNewWest.com Travel & History Magazine.

"Today, it serves as an artisan community that includes shops, plazas and restaurants," she continued. "La Villita Historic District, established in 1969, was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972."

The last major restoration in La Villita occurred in 1980.

An example of the work being done is the building at 101 King Philip V Street. The house was built sometime before 1855.

Approximately 154 years old, the interior reveals caliche block walls and pine floors as well as beaded board ceilings. The work being completed on this building includes removing the entire floor and ceiling and then rebuilding it, utilizing some of the salvaged material to include installing additional ceiling joists and floor framing to meet current day load requirements. There will also be some repair and repointing of the foundation walls.

Currently the structure is home to Found, a gallery that sells "an eclectic mix of art and antiques from 19th century to contemporary."

Construction has been phased, Ms. Swain said. "The contractor began work in early November with an anticipated substantial completion date in early April 2010."

Fingers are crossed that work will be completed in time for the 62nd annual presentation of Night In Old San Antonio, or as it's simply known, NIOSA.

NIOSA typically involves more than 16,000 volunteers, 250 food and drink booths, and 80,000 revelers, and is considered to be one of the largest fundraisers for historic preservation in the country. The four-night festival is sponsored by the San Antonio Conservation Society.

For the past 50 years, the Conservation Society also has staged NIOSITAs (private, mini-NIOSAs) in La Villita's historic plazas for conventions, meetings, and festivals-for groups of 500 and up-to raise additional funds.

NIOSA proceeds directly benefit La Villita annually via a special fund set up as part of the contract between the City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Conservation Society when it leases La Villita, a city-owned property.

Dollars from this "La Villita and HemisFair Park Historic Districts Preservation Projects" fund are available for restoration projects in La Villita and HemisFair Park.

Since the fund was created in 2000, more than $500,000 has been designated for these projects that all San Antonians and visitors enjoy, including improvements on these properties in La Villita: Bolivar Hall, Juarez Plaza, Maverick Plaza Fountain, Maverick Plaza tree planters, Cos House, McAllister building, Maverick Plaza lighting, Dugosh and Tynan Bldgs., and Arneson Theater stage house roof.

For information about this year's NIOSA, visit the Web site at
www.niosa.org and for information on NIOSITAs visit www.niosa.org/NIOSITA.htm or by contact the NIOSA office at (210) 226-5188.

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