Bexar County Commissioners unanimously approved a $337,500 payment to the Canary Islands Descendants Association Tuesday towards the fabrication of five bronze sculptures dedicated to commemorating some of San Antonio’s earliest inhabitants.

The County’s grant matches funds raised over the last year by the association from local and international private donors. The lifelike sculptures – one male and female Canary Islander, one Native American, one Spanish friar, and one Spanish presidio soldier – will be placed in front of the Bexar County Courthouse around a marker describing the Canary Islanders’ contributions to the city.

The group hopes to have the monuments completed and installed by December, before the end of the city and county’s Tricentennial.

“Our desire is to make sure that during this tricentennial year, that we really get history right,” said Mari Tamez, president of the Canary Islands Descendants Association.

“The collective ancestors … are the people that were the nucleus of the building blocks of San Antonio,” Tamez said. “There were people here doing the hard work of being farmers, ranchers, merchants, and building waterways and roadways. They started what [ultimately became] the seventh largest city in the nation.”

The association commissioned Laredo based artist and sculptor Armando Hinojosa for the project. Hinojosa has completed a number of works for public spaces, including the Tejano monument located on the grounds of the Texas Capitol. It pays tribute to the contributions of Tejanos to the founding of the state.

A Texas historical marker depicts the settlement and organization of Canary Islanders in 1731 stands outside the Bexar County Courthouse.
A Texas historical marker in front of the Bexar County Courthouse recounts the settlement and organization of Canary Islanders in 1731. Five bronze statues will be installed at this site before the end of 2018. Credit: Scott Ball / Rivard Report

The total cost of the local project is $675,000. The County’s contribution came from its Capital Projects Program Fund.

Tamez told the Rivard Report that the Tobin Endowment, Mollie and Bartell Zachry, the Gorman Foundation, the San Antonio Conservation Society, H-E-B, and the Joan and Herb Kelleher Charitable Foundation all contributed more than $10,000 to the project.

“We’re relieved to be able to … tell the judge and commissioners that we were in fact able to raise the funds so that we could end the Tricentennial year reminding everyone that it began with these groups,” Tamez said.

Jeffrey Sullivan

Jeffrey Sullivan

Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.