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Tribute to the Original Convention Center Exhibit-Banquet Hall

May 14, 2016

During the last few weeks we observed the demolition of the oldest exhibit-banquet hall at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Constructed during 1966 and 1967, the building–along with the neighboring Arena and Theater for Performing Arts–was part of a three-building complex known as the San Antonio Convention Center. The complex was part of a vast urban-renewal project that also included HemisFair’68, the world’s fair honoring San Antonio’s 250th birthday. The convention center opened at the same time as HemisFair and was the site of events related to the fair.

As the city attracted more and larger conventions, the complex–renamed in honor of United States Representative Henry B. Gonzalez in 1976–was expanded several times. This January, a $325 million expansion opened to the east of the older building. Demolition of the original hall, located at the corner of Market and Alamo Streets, was scheduled to begin as soon as the new structure was completed. The layout of the old building had become obsolete and it stood in the way of integrating the redeveloped HemisFair Park with downtown.

This is a sample of the many photographs in our collections that document the appearance and uses of the original exhibit-banquet hall during the years that it served the community.

Alamo Street entrance to Convention Center Exhibit Hall, August 1970. (Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, MS 355: Z-1103-A-85040)

Alamo Street entrance to Convention Center Exhibit Hall, August 1970. (Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, MS 355: Z-1103-A-85040)

Newly completed Convention Center Exhibit Hall, by Lyda and Lott, general contractors. Behind it, the Tower of the Americas tophouse is being hoisted to the top of the concrete shaft, January 20, 1968. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0015-022-03)

Newly completed Convention Center Exhibit-Banquet Hall, by Lyda and Lott, general contractors. Behind it, the Tower of the Americas tophouse is being hoisted to the top of the concrete shaft, January 20, 1968. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0015-022-03)

The San Antonio Convention Center, designed by local architectural firms Noonan and Krocker; Phelps and Simmons and Associates, August 1969. (Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, MS 355: Z-1103-A-3296)

Panoramic view of the San Antonio Convention Center, designed by local architectural firms Noonan and Krocker; Phelps and Simmons and Associates, August 1969.  East Market Street at lower left.  (Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, MS 355: Z-1103-A-3296)

Mural, by Carlos Merida, opposite the east entrance to the Exhibit Hall, ca. 1968. The mural has been preserved in place and will be incorporated into a new structure. (Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, MS 355: Z-1102-1064-A)

Glass mosaic mural, by Carlos Merida, opposite the east entrance to the Exhibit Hall, 1968. The mural has been preserved in place and will be incorporated into a new structure. (Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, MS 355: Z-1102-1064-A)

Convention Center Banquet Hall, March 1969. (Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, MS 355: Z-1103-B-118-9)

Convention Center Banquet Hall, March 1969. (Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, MS 355: Z-1103-B-118-9)

Exhibit Hall during National Decorator’s Convention, May 1969. (Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, MS 355: Z-1103-C-28-32)

Exhibit Hall during National Decorator’s Convention, May 1969. (Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, MS 355: Z-1103-C-28-32)

Smith-Corona Marchant exhibit during convention of the American Mathematical Society and Mathematical Association of America, January 1970. (Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, MS 355: Z-0491-A-39-15)

Smith-Corona Marchant exhibit during convention of the American Mathematical Society and Mathematical Association of America, January 1970. (Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, MS 355: Z-0491-A-39-15)

Brother-sister dance team Isaac Cardenas and Lisa Cardenas during zoot suit contest at low riders convention, August 30, 1980. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0064-036-33)

Brother-sister dance team Isaac Cardenas and Lisa Cardenas during zoot suit contest at low riders convention, August 30, 1980. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0064-036-33)

Photographers and model at photography trade show, September 13, 1980. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0064-076-44)

Photographers and model at photography trade show, September 13, 1980. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0064-076-44)

U. S. Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez speaks at Texas Pharmaceutical Convention, July 16, 1978. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0047-061-42)

U. S. Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez speaks at Texas Pharmaceutical Convention, July 16, 1978. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0047-061-42)

Russian chess champion Anatoly Karpov (left) and Danish Grandmaster Bent Larsen in the third round of Church’s International Chess Tournament in Mission Room, November 21, 1972. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0026-127-30)

Russian chess champion Anatoly Karpov (left) and Danish Grandmaster Bent Larsen in the third round of Church’s International Chess Tournament, November 21, 1972. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0026-127-30)

Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter at podium with Mayor Lila Cockrell, July 30, 1976 (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0038-131-41)

Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter at podium with Mayor Lila Cockrell, July 30, 1976 (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0038-131-41)

Tejano Music Awards program in Banquet Hall, San Antonio Convention Center, March 10, 1985. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0284-089-08)

Tejano Music Awards program in Banquet Hall, San Antonio Convention Center, March 10, 1985. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0284-089-08)

Cheerleading camp, August 3, 1982. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0110-192-22)

Cheerleading camp, August 3, 1982. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0110-192-22)

Former Vice President Walter Mondale (center) stands between Bella Abzug (left) and Patsy Mink at National Women's Political Caucus, July 10, 1983. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0168-044-37)

Former Vice President Walter Mondale (center) stands between Bella Abzug (left) and Patsy Mink at National Women’s Political Caucus, July 10, 1983. (San Antonio Express-News Collection, MS 360: E-0168-044-37)

C.O.P.S. Convention in Banquet Hall, November 7, 1982. (San Antonio Light Collection, MS 359: L-7205-19-03)

C.O.P.S. Convention in Banquet Hall, November 7, 1982. (San Antonio Light Collection, MS 359: L-7205-19-03)

 

 

 

 

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