Meet Justin Scalera, who is one of only two photographers for the Heritage Documentation Programs of the National Park Service in Washington, DC.
Mr. Scalera came to El Paso to conduct the first Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) of El Paso in 43 years, since 1980. He is photographing our city’s most significant buildings in order to create a permanent record of them in the Library of Congress!
I helped arrange permission for Mr. Scalera to enter the “Arena Footprint” for three hours yesterday. He had just enough time to photograph six of the most important buildings there along Overland Avenue and as well as Chihuahua Street.
You see, after selecting Duranguito as the site for its multipurpose basketball arena, the City of El Paso began strenuously insisting that there is “nothing historic” inside the 5.4-acre “Arena Footprint.”
Never mind that the City’s own 1998 architectural survey cited numerous architectural and archaeological assets there and recommended establishing a “Union Plaza Historic District.”
Never mind that the 2017 survey conducted by El Paso County identified 12 buildings inside that rectangle that are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Never mind that the National Trust for Historic Places, Preservation Texas, and even the City’s own Historic Landmark Commission and City Plan Commission publicly opposed demolishing the neighborhood.
Now we have the National Park Service documenting six of the buildings for the Library of Congress, the most prestigious archive in the United States of America!
Ya know, just maybe, possibly, there might be something historic in Duranguito that is worth preserving for posterity!
Thankfully, our City Council voted on January 3 to spare the neighborhood and move its arena project elsewhere.
Have a beautiful day 🙂.