William A. Dupont: San Antonio Conservation Society Endowed Professorship in honor of Mary Ann Blocker Castleberry

William A. Dupont

William A. Dupont

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(Nov. 24, 2009)--UTSA College of Architecture Professor William A. Dupont holds the San Antonio Conservation Society Endowed Professorship in honor of Mary Ann Blocker Castleberry.

The endowed position was established in 1996 and honors a former president and active member of the Conservation Society. The position was held originally by legendary architect, professor and historic preservation advocate Eugene George Jr., who retired in 2003.

Dupont, a former chief architect for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, first came to San Antonio in 2007 to work on a local project (the preservation of Walter Mathis' King William home) for the National Trust.

Soon after arriving in San Antonio, Dupont recalled, he met Julius Gribou, then the dean of the College of Architecture. Dupont soon joined the faculty of the College of Architecture to teach graduate-level courses and expand the college's historic preservation track.

Dupont's philosophy of historic preservation balances respect for the past and the future.

"In historic preservation, you're preserving the previous culture and bringing it forward, but keeping that continuity in identity. It's about managing change," he said. Endowment funds provide the resources -- such as recording and measuring equipment, travel funds, and financial support -- to put students' academic training to work.

For example, Dupont purchased a camera and other diagnostic equipment for his students to use when examining and documenting historic sites. College of Architecture students have put this equipment to use at local field sites, including the circa-1924 Fire Station 11 building that serves as a learning laboratory near the Downtown Campus, and at sites much farther afield, such as Pueblo Acoma in New Mexico, the oldest continually inhabited city in the United States.

"The endowment gives me a lot of flexibility to determine what I think needs to be done," Dupont said.

The funds have supported student research and travel to conferences where knowledge is exchanged. An especially important use of the endowment is in the hiring of student interns who benefit from professional mentorship. College of Architecture students have researched sustainability issues in New Orlean's hurricane-ravaged historic neighborhoods and the stately Havana, Cuba, home of Ernest Hemingway.

Recently Dupont collaborated with the City of San Antonio's Historic Preservation Office to bring in a master timber framer to lead a workshop that brings together students with local members of the professional historic preservation community for a unique training experience.

"The city is more than a living laboratory -- it's our home," Dupont says. "It's not just a place we study, but it's also a place where we need to act as designers and have positive input."

"In a city where historic preservation is at the very core of our heritage, having a university- level focus on historic preservation benefits us in many ways," said Bruce MacDougal, executive director of the San Antonio Conservation Society. "The San Antonio Conservation Society could not be more pleased with the Mary Ann Blocker Castleberry Endowment Professorship at the College of Architecture at the University of Texas at San Antonio."