State officials and one historically minded celebrity unveiled seven historic bronze models of the Alamo Monday morning, which are situated on the sidewalk between the site’s long barracks and the nearby Cenotaph.
The “bronzes,” as they’re referred to by their financial sponsor, British musician Phil Collins, replicate the development of the site from Mission San Antonio de Valero in 1744 to the Alamo in 1900. Each plaque contains general information about the history of the site over time and labels the buildings of the time, all in English.
George Nelson, sculptor of the replicas and author of the book The Alamo: An Illustrated History, wanted the diagrams to expand people’s understanding of the centuries-old mission beyond its famous battle in March 1836.
“The idea is to try to present in the most easily accessible format, the deep and complicated history of the Alamo,” Nelson said. “What I tried to do was create essentially bronze time machines so that anybody, children or people from around the world, can explore the Alamo through time to understand how it came to be like it is now.”
Nelson unveiled the models beside Collins, an Alamo enthusiast, and other city and state officials, including Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. The event came in the midst of ongoing discussions to create an Alamo Master Plan, which aims to reshape and repurpose the downtown site in a more historical manner.
Nelson told the Rivard Report that he thinks the models will remain where they currently are throughout the redesign process.
Collins, an Alamo aficionado since his childhood, told reporters Nelson had approached him years ago with an idea of a traveling museum that would explain the story of the Alamo to children far from the site itself. While the traveling museum never materialized, Collins said Nelson persisted in the idea of developing the bronzes.
Collins’ large collection of Alamo artifacts were the catalyst for the creation of a new museum that’s included in master plan discussions.
“In the next couple of years we hope [there] will be a reimagined and very different looking Alamo plaza, and something very dignified and in keeping with the history of the place,” Collins said.
During a closed-door lunch preceding the unveiling, Collins told audience members he liked the idea of lowering the footprint of the Alamo, which would allow visitors to see parts of the original wall through protective glass.
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Lowering the footprint by more than a foot has been part of the hotly debated draft plan, which also includes the demolition of certain historic buildings, the construction of a modern museum, closure of South Alamo and East Houston streets to vehicular traffic, an enhanced tree canopy, and moving the Cenotaph 500 feet to the south.
The public has four opportunities this month to weigh in on the draft plan, including Monday and Tuesday evening.