Alamo Plan is Good for San Antonio, for Texas and Our History

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This rendering shows the Alamo Plaza as imagined by master planners.

Courtesy / Texas General Land Office

This rendering shows the Alamo Plaza as imagined by master planners.

Texas boasts some of the most interesting and amazing history in the world. How many states can claim to have sacrificed so much to fight off a dictator and become its own country? How many states boast names like David Crockett, Juan Seguin, Emily Morgan, Sam Houston, Lorenzo de Zavala, and Susanna Dickinson? We have Gonzales and “Come and Take it,” the Alamo and Fort Defiance, the shocking victory at San Jacinto, the Runaway Scrape, the constitutional convention and the humane treatment of an inhumane tyrant. 

Texas has it all. 

I am privileged to live Texas history every day leading the Texas Independence Trail Region, so I have observed the Alamo plan as it progressed with a keen eye. I am also a San Antonio native. I joined the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee to have some direct input.

I am more than a history buff. Texas history is my passion and my career.

Like you, I have recently seen the Alamo plans proposed by the Alamo Master Plan Management Committee and the design team. I commend the committee and the designers for creating a serious plan that always keeps the Alamo’s needs first and foremost.

As a San Antonio native, I naturally have concerns about the closure of South Alamo Street. Our hometown parades have used that street for more than 100 years, so it’s a tradition. Some change in the route may be necessary in order to preserve and protect, not only The Alamo, but the people during these festive times. We are still trying to reach an agreement.

I have also been concerned that the plaza stay open as much as possible, and that the Alamo footprint has its integrity restored. These are somewhat contradictory concerns, but many share them. The Alamo plan takes these concerns and more into account, demonstrating awareness of all of the many sensitivities surrounding the Alamo while seeking first to simply protect the place and its history.

I am most excited to see the Alamo finally treated as a true destination, with a state-of-the-art museum and a unified site which will enable it to tell its story better. A stronger, more purposeful Alamo will be great for San Antonio. It will also be great for interest and scholarship in Texas history.

For example, if the renewed Alamo tells its story better than it has been able to, it could spark new interest in the Texas Revolution as a whole. We have more than two dozen historic sites stretching across southeast Texas, managed by various entities and agencies. A stronger Alamo strengthens all of these sites by tying them to this grand Texas story. A stronger Alamo may inspire a generation of students, who may become artists, historians, writers, re-enactors, film makers, even video game makers, who take the Alamo story to new heights and places. This is a role the Alamo is uniquely positioned to play, and through this plan, it will be equipped to play it. 

A renewed and invigorated Alamo presents many tantalizing possibilities. We develop and encourage living history programs at Texas Independence Trail sites whenever possible. So I can picture the Alamo’s historic battlefield hosting large-scale living history programs and events in the future. That’s why relocating the Cenotaph makes sense. Where it stands, it takes up a large amount of space on a small footprint. By relocating the Cenotaph just to the south, the historic space is cleared and the Alamo’s leaders can think big about how to use what will now be a very large outdoor museum. Imagine Texas fourth and seventh graders stepping back in time in that outdoor museum, and then enjoying artifacts in the Alamo’s new indoor museum. They will be inspired. We will be inspired. All Texas history sites will benefit.

A rendering showing the relocated Alamo Cenotaph at night.

Courtesy / Texas General Land Office

A design rendering shows the relocated Alamo Cenotaph at night.

The Cenotaph will be given greater importance as it will stand illuminated near The Alamo’s historic front gate site with the Alamo within selfie shot (unlike its current location). The Cenotaph is in need of repair and must be cared for properly for our children to be able to enjoy its noble history.

As with any massive project, we may not all be getting exactly what we want, but in the end, it’s what is best for the Alamo and its legacy that is truly important. This must be a collaboration and the best for our Shrine of Liberty to continue for many years to come as the heart of my hometown.

This plan is good and right. It’s the best way for us now to honor and remember the Alamo and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

16 thoughts on “Alamo Plan is Good for San Antonio, for Texas and Our History

  1. We can still have a world-class outdoor memorial and museum while not sacrificing our living history that is the Parade and it’s relationship to the Alamo. All it takes is honest, critical design work and unfortunately I have yet to see an honest effort toward consensus.

  2. I agree that the parade is such a big part of San Antonio’s history. I’m still trying to see what we can do to achieve the best for The Alamo and the parade.
    I have been 100% behind your stance of opening the route for the parade only … until I saw some very disturbing photos of the trash that is always left after the parade. This would be terrible to have the litter continuing on our sacred ground.
    Let’s see what we can do to come to a great compromise as we protect our Alamo and it’s grounds as well as celebrate our heritage through the parades!
    Thank you for your comments and passion! Yes, this is so important!

  3. I’m dumbfounded that this project cannot be properly rendered. I wrote a more optimistic letter to at least 20 city officials. Not one reply. Mobile Alabama did it properly and totally rebuilt the walls of Fort Conde’. No one regretted it afterwards. Of course there was turmoil in the 70s when it was a project.
    Check it out.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=fort+conde%27+Mobile+Alabama&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiEpev6ieHcAhVHXq0KHaxTAeIQ_AUIDCgD&biw=1377&bih=686#imgrc=eMFQ-3tQwHSSHM:

    • You will not get any replies from the dog and pony show running our city. Petitions, letters, etc., were most likely trashed without being read.

  4. I totally disagree. Leave the Centotaph where it is and bring back the Daughters of the Republic. Moving the Centotaph is a waste of money!

  5. Move the Cenotaph to the Alameda where the defenders bodies were burned. That is where their memorial belongs. Rebuild the gate. Close streets running though the plaza. Keep the cultural roots but add more history.

    • The Alameda was the first proposed site, but since there is a river, hotel, parking garage in that location, it would have only been ‘near’ the pyre site. That park on Market street would be out of site and out of mind. People visiting the Alamo would not want to walk three blocks to see the monument. That is why we changed it to the south plaza location outside of the battlefield compound. It is in sight of the shrine for the first time. I agree with the gate and closing the streets, that’s what we have proposed in the meetings.

  6. Don’t expect the crowds of people shown in those illustrations. If walls are built, people will not come and stand around. They may go to the museum and walk through the chapel building, but they will then disappear. The greatest danger of the present plans is that it will kill activity within the compound (which I know the supporters want, because they prefer it to be a quiet, reverent place rather than a lively happy one).

    • There will be living history daily on the battlefield compound that will actually draw more people. A 13 day reenactment of the siege and battle will come to life on the commemoration days of March. It will also allow the Siege of Bexar, the mission period to be shown with living history, something that can’t be done now due to protesters, street preachers, cars driving on the battlefield, and all the noise it brings.

  7. Repair the Cenotaph and leave it where it stands. The spirit of sacrifice is the empty tomb of those who shed their blood on these hallowed grounds. How dare you call yourself a Texas patriot! Part of where their bodies were burned is underwater. You would be living in Mexico now if not for their pools of blood on these grounds. Blood that sparked the flame of liberty.

    • My 3X great grandfather Andrew Kent is the first name on the west side of the Cenotaph. He fought in the Battle of Gonzales, Battle of Concepcion, Siege and Battle of Bexar. He also was a judge for delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Matthew Caldwell and John Fisher are signers because of him. He was one of the Immortal 32 that answered Travis’ famous letter for reinforcements. His son in law was my 2X great grandfather William Byas, 34th Tex Reg of the Texas Cavalry in the Civil War. I was US Army Infantry. You can say she is not a Texas patriot and I guess I am not one too. Yes, pools of blood on these grounds. And the ‘Don’t move the Cenotaph’ crowd (ADDA, TITFF, Don’t Wall Me In, Battle of Flowers, Fiesta, Keep the Plaza Open) all will allow trash, cars driving, protesters, street preachers, etc., all on sacred ground as long as they get their way and not move the Cenotaph to a position that for the first time will be in sight of the Shrine. The pictures of me, my kids, their kids(One named Andrew in honor of his 5X great grandfather) will now be able to point to his name with the Alamo Shrine in the background. The honor here is making the Alamo number one, not the Cenotaph.

  8. I’s a shame that the walls of the Alamo can’t be rebuilt where they stood at the time of the battle. Men died at their posts on all of the walls, anything less is a half tribute. Whatever else was built afterward is encroaching on hallowed ground. No different than the Gettysburg Battltfield or other historic sites in the country.

  9. I will leave a link to my commentary in the Express News this past July 29th. I do understand a sense of an event is needed but so does the complexity of history.. I understand your are part of heritage trails program that includes many ‘re-creating’ many rural sites….Alamo Plaza is different. As you are a member of the Texas Historical Commission, please discuss with the State’s Director and State Historic Preservation Officer why this plan is historically inappropriate. Regards. https://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/commentary/article/Let-s-keep-our-public-space-public-13111689.php

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