Harvey Partridge Smith, architect and preservationist, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on April 2, 1889, the son of Harvey Jay and Carrie (Barnum) Smith. He received his education at the Evanston Academy, Northwestern University, the University of Arizona, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1906–07 he was employed as a draftsman by the Minneapolis firm of Kees and Coburn, one of the city's most progressive architectural offices, and in 1912–13 he worked for Oakland, California, architect John J. Donovan. Smith moved to San Antonio in 1915 and was hired by Atlee B. Ayres. He worked for Ayres until 1916, when he moved to the office of Ralph H. Cameron. In 1919 he formed a partnership with Robert B. Kelly, under the name Smith and Kelly, which lasted until 1924, when Smith opened his own office. Among his best-known works are the residence for the Siamese twins Violet and Daisy Hilton (since demolished), the Joske Boy Scout Training Center (1926), and the Sunken Garden Theater in Brackenridge Park (1937), which he designed in association with George R. Willis and Charles Boelhauwe. Smith, however, is best remembered for his work in the area of historic preservation. In 1928 he was selected as restoration architect for the Spanish Governor's Palace in San Antonio. His long experience with the history of early Spanish missions in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas enabled him to repair the damage done to the building over the centuries. He also aided in locating colonial period furnishings for the interior.
Smith's work on the Governor's Palace led to his selection in 1933 to oversee the restoration project on San José y San Miguel de Aguayo Mission in San Antonio. Using historic plans and clues provided by archeological excavations done in the 1930s, he reconstructed the collapsed bell tower of the mission and the nave roof and masonry dome of the church. He also reconstructed much of the mission's larger compound, including the friars' cells, the Indian quarters, and the granary. In addition to his work on San José, Smith was involved in the restoration of San Francisco de la Espada Mission and in preparing drawings of other surviving colonial structures in San Antonio. Smith was the author of Romantic San Antonio (1918) and contributed articles to numerous professional journals, including California Arts and Architecture, The Monograph, Arts and Archeology, and American Architecture. He married Mary Stone on April 5, 1916. The couple had one son, Harvey Partridge Smith, Jr., who joined his father's practice in 1946. Smith was a Presbyterian and a Kiwanian. He died in San Antonio on January 19, 1964, and was buried in Mission Burial Park there.