Joe Huntington moved to the St. Benedict Lofts in April 2012 from Las Vegas, Nevada, and recently bought a house on Sweet Street. He has been a KWA member since 2012. KWA director, Cherise Bell, met with Joe to get his perspective on being a new historic property owner.

Q. You recently bought a house on Sweet Street, which is the KWA boundaries, but outside the historic district. What motivated you to designate your house as an individual landmark?

A. I knew I had to act right away when this house came up for sale. My reason for buying such an old house was because I’ve never owned an old house before. I’ve always owned newer homes. I think I was looking for a challenge and to test my creativity. The main reason why I choose to designate my house as a landmark was to become part of the historical community that makes up Southtown. It’s a sense of pride knowing you own something of historic significance. 

Q. What has been your experience in working with the staff at the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP)?

A. My experience with the OHP staff was wonderful.  They were very patient with me and took their time in explaining the process of registering your home for historic preservation.  They really walked me through the process and took great care of me. You couldn’t ask for a better staff. I’ve found the process quite simple and pain-free. You don’t have to labor over countless forms and provide endless amount of justification. I think a lot of this is due to the staff members of OHP and with the city of San Antonio wanting to rejuvenate these historic homes.

I would absolutely recommend for historic designation to other property owners. The process is easy and I honestly feel it is putting life back into our community. It’s recognizing that you have this piece of history and you should be proud of that. Why not display that for the community?

Q. Many people who have not owned a historic house do not realize only the outside needs to retain its historic integrity. What approach are you taking with your restoration?

A.  My approach has been to restore and modernize my house. In doing this I’ve cut out walls to make the living room and kitchen bigger. I am refurbishing the baseboards, casing and reusing hardwood floors from in the kitchen to use in the living room. I am retexturing all the walls with a Spanish Monterrey finish and putting tile and upgraded cabinets and countertops in the kitchen. As for the outside, I’ve installed a new cedar fence in the backyard. Future projects are repainting the house, new landscape front and back, and modernizing both bathrooms.

Q. Why did you join KWA?

A. For me becoming a member of KWA was about integrating myself into this wonderful community.  I wasn’t sure when I first moved here if Southtown was the place for me. It was completely different from Las Vegas. I quickly feel in love with this unique urban dwelling.  There is a real sense of a community and I wanted to be part of that. 

- Cherise Bell