History and Timeline

Southwest School of Art was founded in 1965 and is a nationally recognized leader in visual arts education, offering a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, as well as studio art programs for adults, children, and teens. Frequently referred to as an urban oasis, our campus has been a place for learning and growth for more than 165 years.  Our buildings and campus were originally known as the Ursuline Convent and Academy, which opened in 1851. 

In 1965, the Ursuline Academy moved and the complex fell into disrepair.  After a few years, a portion of the historic site was sold to the San Antonio Conservation Society, who had a heartfelt mission to save it from developers.  In 1971, Southwest School of Art was invited by the Society to use a portion of the property for arts education.  Eventually, the School purchased the entire site and with extensive renovation and restoration, has been able to create one of the most beautiful and successful examples of historic adaptive use in the nation.

The historic structures remain standing today because of the determination and generosity that has been expressed over several decades by our founders, friends, donors and the San Antonio Conservation Society. The site is an officially recognized Texas Historic Landmark and we are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  With the addition of the BFA degree program in fall of 2013, Southwest School of Art became the only independent college of art in Texas.

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