Katy-Area History Enthusiasts Learn of Alamo Plaza Renovation Plans

Photo provided by TX General Land Office

SAN FELIPE (Covering Katy News)—The state’s most iconic historic site, the Alamo, is undergoing a renovation, more than 180 years after it was made famous in battle.

The Texas General Land Office in Austin is working with state and San Antonio city officials to renovate the Alamo Plaza, where the battle of the Alamo was fought from February 23–March 6, 1836. Since then, a state official said, approximately 80 percent of the plaza area has been lost to other development.

Today, only the iconic Church and Long Barracks remain of the original Alamo Plaza, and Alamo Street has long run right through the western portion of the plaza.

The renovation plan, described in a presentation given Thursday night at the San Felipe de Austin Museum, would restore the plaza to a more accurate representation of what the Alamo looked like at the time the battle was fought.

In his presentation, Bryan Preston, General Land Office communications director, said the master plan had five elements:

– Restore the Church and Long Barracks.

– Reestablish clarity in order through the delineation of the historic footprint.

– Recapture the historic Mission Plaza and create a sense of reverence and respect on the historic battlefield.

– Repurpose the Crockett, Woolworth, and Palace buildings into a world-class visitor center and museum that tells the story of the Battle of the Alamo and over 300 years of layered history.

– Create a sense of arrival to the site and enhance connectivity between the site and other public spaces.
General Land Officials have staged an Alamo Roadshow in which they shared their plans for the renovation.

Those attending Thursday’s presentation in San Felipe were given free admission to the museum, which extended its open hours for the occasion. The museum opened in April and is located just north of I-10 between Sealy and Brookshire.

Jameson Moore, General Land Office education specialist, is dressed in a time-period outfit and holds a Harper’s Ferry Model 1816 Musket rifle, a popular model used at the Alamo – George Slaughter photo

The roadshow has also gone to the Bob Bullock State History Museum in Austin and Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth.
Officials also brought replica Alamo artifacts for history enthusiasts, and the public, to enjoy. Among the artifacts at Thursday’s event was a replica Bowie knife, made famous by Jim Bowie, who along with William B. Travis commanded the Alamo garrison.

The Battle of the Alamo and its Aftermath

At the Battle of the Alamo, a Mexican Army force led by Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna launched an assault that killed all the Texas defenders, including Bowie, Travis, and the famous pioneer David Crockett. This massacre, along with a similar massacre at Goliad, galvanized the Texans in their fight for independence from Mexico, which was won on April 21, 1836, at the Battle of San Jacinto. Texas joined the United States in 1845.

The Alamo was first built in 1718. It was moved twice, with the second move to its current site in 1824. It was called the Mission San Antonio de Valero and was a Catholic Church mission. At that time, and during the battle, it sat just east of the then-village of San Antonio.

The city grew around it over the years, and today the Alamo sits in downtown San Antonio. The state owns the Alamo property on which the Chapel and Long Barracks sit, though the city owns much of the property that made up the plaza.

The city-owned land includes some private businesses, including a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum and some t-shirt shops. Public demonstrations also take place in front of the Alamo Church.

Under the renovation plan, the businesses would be moved to an entertainment district area just south of the plaza property. A free speech area would also be established just south of the plaza.

Alamo Remains a Popular Tourist and Historical Site

The Alamo remains among the most popular, perhaps the most popular, tourist attraction in Texas.

It also draws attention from Hollywood and around the world. The Alamo story has been recounted in several movies, perhaps the most famous of which was released in 1960 and starred John Wayne as Crockett. The most recent movie was released in 2004 and starred Billy Bob Thornton as Crockett. Both those films were made in Texas.

The British singer and musician Phil Collins, formerly of the band Genesis, is an Alamo history enthusiast and has collected Alamo artifacts over the years. In 2012, he published a book that showed and described the artifacts, which he eventually donated to the Alamo for display.

For more information about the renovation plans, see savethealamo.com.

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