Excavations on Alamo Plaza, August, 1976. Out with the asphault and concrete, in with the flagstone!
The most signifacent renovation effort on Alamo Plaza in my lifetime occurred in 1976, when the street in front of the Alamo was closed to traffic and the entire Plaza was repaved in flagstone. Prior to that, the street was black asphault, while the sidewalks and paths were all concrete. During this time, excavations were completed and historical artifacts discovered.
are there any individual rooms in the long barrack? and if they are open, are they open to the public?
i wish there were more barrack scenes in the movie
Originally, the Long Barrack was a series of rooms. During the battle, when the soldados would go from door to door, blasting their way in with a cannon, each room had to be cleared of living Texians. In the new Alamo film, as in the Long Barrack today, there are doors inbetween the rooms and so the building is more like a corridor, than a separate series of rooms.
The Long Barrack has recently been renovated and is a very nice museum, now.
At that time, cars could park in metered spaces along the curb by the front of the Long Barrack. This practically ruined any hope for a decent photo of the building.
Here's the north end of the Long Barrack. In 1973, the present-day Alamo courtyard wall was barely 4 foot high. Around 1980, it was raised up to its present height, well over six foot high.
The street directly in front of the chapel meanwhile, was open to traffic. At least a red zone had been painted along the curb to prevent vehicles from further blocking the view of the shrine. It would not be until the late 80's, early 90's that the street was permamnently closed to all but foot traffic.
its a shame it took so long for people to realize that the land needed to be preserved.
One of the problems IMO is that they spent too much time on the church, in that when people hear the word "Alamo" they automaticly picture the church. Granted the church was a part of the mission but it was only a part of it. If the powers-that-be back in the late 1830's/40's would of realized the importance of the whole mission, maybe they would of put forth an effore to preserve the whole thing as a whole...
Am i making any sense? I think i'm more confused now than when i started this post.
Again, by the time the Mexicans had knocked down all of the outer walls in May, 1836 on their retreat, there wasn't much more left of the Alamo than stands today, as this 1846 Edward Everett plat shows. *
Too bad that at least the Galera (Low Barrack) could not have been saved, though. Up until as late as 1876, it was in use as a jail.
* NOTE: The dotted lines indicate wall that no longer exited when Everett visited the Alamo in 1846.
This artist's conception of a proposed Alamo Plaza renovation effort was done for the March 13, 1994 edition of the San Antonio Light by artist Felipe Soto for Preservationist/architect Dick MyCue.
The proposal suggested moving all the buildings along West Alamo Street and then reconstructing part of the Low Barrack, West Wall and NW corner of the compound. The Post Office building would contain a new Alamo artifacts Museum, as well as a reconstruction of Travis' battle position at the center of the North Wall. The Alamo Cenotaph would also be moved to an area outside of the NW corner of the compounnd in order to give more emphasis to the Alamo church.
To date, nothing has gone forward on the 1994 estimated $32,616,900 project.
Here's something on the topic that I posted on the alamofilm site just four years ago, this month:
Preservation is a beautiful thing. You take something of value and then keep in it original condition so that centurys hence, other may marvel at it. The problem is, to (approx.) quote San Antonio historian Charles Ramsdell, ...piecemeal, a little here, a little there, the Alamo has all but been "restored" off the face of the earth." The time has long past for putting the second story back on the long barrack. Heck, it's been gone for 90, or so years, anyhow. Changing it now would only obliterate another chapter in Alamo Plaza's long and colorful history. And while purchasing all of the storefronts facing the Alamo church WOULD be a nice move on the State's part, some of those building themselves hold their own historical signifacence in San Antonio history. So which to save and which to demolish? And anyhow, upon their demolishment, any reconstruction of the west wall of the fort would be based upon educated speculation, at best. Keeping the area open and 'park-like' but with distinct outlines of the original compound foundations (much like the low barrack flowerbed) would be one idea. But realistically, I do not think that the City of San Antonio is going to so readily relinquish having commercial space on the plaza. Historical importance aside, the property is just too darn valuable.
Want to see the "whole" Alamo"? Contact RLC-GTT in Brackettville. Even THAT reconstruction isn't 'perfect', though. _________________
Last Edit: Feb 17, 2007 15:46:25 GMT -5 by neferetus
To which Frank (Immortal Alamo) Thompson responded.
I agree with Nefarious. Alamo Plaza has its own history that is, in its way, just as important for what happened after the battle as during it. I know a lot of Alamo loonies, um I mean buffs, who wish the hump were gone -- but the hump has stood on the church for longer than the church existed without it. Take it down and you're only obliterating one level of history to celebrate another.
As a great writer once wrote, the Alamo is no longer itself, but a monument to itself. It'll never exist in its 1836 incarnation again. Even if it were rebuilt, the result wouldn't be the original fort, but simply an artificial version -- like Alamo Village or the Dripping Springs set. Besides, if you rebuild the compound, are you then going to tear the roof off the church? Remove the gift shop/ museum and library? Take away all the vegetation that's been planted around the grounds?
Personally, I'd like to see it restored to its appearance during the Honore Grenet period. You could visit the Alamo and do some shopping in the Long Barracks. And maybe they'd bring the chili queens back to the Plaza. That would be sweet!
Failing that, I say leave it as it is and step up the level of education and information on the site -- that's more valuable (and more likely) in the long run than trying to recreate a lost era.
Rich Curilla recalls his first visit to the Alamo: (From thealamofilm site, February, 2003)
My earliest visit to the Alamo was on June 16, 1958. I was eleven (she was 34 -- oops sorry! ). There was just the church with those TERRIBLE paintings (I knew that then). I did like the one showing Travis fighting on the north wall, though. Not a great painting, but a fine illustration. Still like it. The gift shop was actually more museum than gift shop, since the Long Barrack was still just three walls overgrown with vines and held together on top by horizontal poles. The church was still unairconditioned with the front doors open. These doors were the square, polished wooden doors with the square panels. A glass pane with iron bars filled in the arch of the doorway. I liked those doors even though they were not old. I also liked (and still do) the fact that you could look up on the inside of the building and see the original tops of the church walls, the U.S. Army additions being thinner. As we only spent about an hour going through the Alamo, I experienced no show and tell from the DRT, if there was any, which I doubt.
In 1961, when Dad and Mom and I spent four days in San Antonio, my hostess in the Alamo was the woman I had been corresponding with for several years. She was the neatest of all DRT ladies, Mrs. Richard G. (Edith Simpson) Halter. She showed me everything there was to see and even took me in "the rooms." One of the things I remember her saying (then and in the late 60's when I would stay at her Alamo Heights home for several days each summer), was "Jim Bowie must have been an amazing man because, according to historians, he was born in three different states and died in four different rooms."
At those times -- even through the sixties -- there were no dioramas, laser shows, multimedia performances, not even a slide show as later in the Long Barrack Museum. Just museum cases and horrible paintings. The first classy painting they had was the Reynold Brown "The Alamo" key art.
Actually, that must be incorrect, because they had the 1834 Chapman painting of Crockett, but I don't recall seeing it until years later. THAT is awesome. In my opinion, that is the only painting from life that captures the twinkle in David's eye and the humor on his lips.
Kevin's "Remember the Alamo" multimedia presentation was the first real historical entertainment that I saw there. It really captured my imagination, having spent my youth putting together timed slide show about the Alamo, synching them to Tiomkin's score.
But on the 1958 visit, I was captured by the clay scale model of the compound which they had in the church. It was not the large one there today, but a small table-top size. When we got home to Pennsylvania, I immediately got Dad to buy me some Play Dough and promptly made my own. But when that stuff hardens, it curls. Must talk to Tom Feeley about that before I build another one.
No, I'm afraid the DRT had nothing except the shrine museum displays back then.
Last Edit: Feb 17, 2007 15:47:03 GMT -5 by neferetus
Back in the '70's when the memorable "Remember The Alamo" theatre was still operating on Alamo plaza, the building housing the multi media presentation had a limestone facade meant to represent a portion of the west wall of the original Alamo compound. On the theatre's brochure, the structure was even dubbed 'site of the Alamo's Artillery Command Post'.
When in San Antonio, I could never get enough of this show and must've seen it at least a dozen times, or more. One of the drawing points of "Remember The Alamo" was that it utilized Dimitri Tiomkin's soundtrack from Wayne's "Alamo"; another plus was that certain "scenes" depicted were recognizable as stills from Disney's Crockett, The Last Command" and of course "THE Alamo." Well, time marched on, the "Remember the Alamo Theatre" fell into disrepair and eventually closed. A sign in the Crockett Hotel lobby announced that the theatre had relocated to the 2nd floor of that building, but I could never locate it.
So, what now stands in place of the "Artillery Command Post" and whatever became of the "Remember The Alamo" presentation itself? Though dated somewhat, it would still be a hoot to see it once more with a few fellow enthusiasts. Kevin?