Texas’ Iconic Alamo Set to Undergo Extraordinary and Historically Devastating Changes
The Alamo is one of the most sacred and revered places in Texas. It was the sight of a pivotal moment in Texas history. 185 men, fighting for independence from Mexico, were killed in the Battle of the Alamo. Those ’13 days of glory’ bought valuable time for Gen. Sam Houston to pull back, regroup and successfully defeat the Mexican forces at San Jacinto.
San Jacinto, Goliad and Gonzales are all important and sacred sites in our history. But The Alamo is an especially sacred spot. The 185 defenders who entered the compound knew they were facing impossible odds, but, nonetheless, stood shoulder to shoulder with Crockett, Bowie and Travis to do their part to try and secure independence for Texas.
There is a plan to change the Alamo, even renaming it, and ultimately attempt to erase the Battle of the Alamo as the defining moment in the Franciscan mission’s existence. The ‘Save The Alamo’ campaign has been launched to help preserve the history of the Alamo. Rick Range, a Dallas-area Alamo Historian and founder of Save The Alamo committee, discovered what is believed to be one of the cannons used in the Battle of the Alamo stored in a barn in North Texas. Range is sounding the alarm over what will ultimately be the descecration of one of Texas, and America’s, most sacred sites.
‘Reimagine the Alamo’ certainly appears to be nothing more than another attempt at erasing our history and our heritage in the name of political correctness. George P. Bush, the current Texas Land Commissioner, is pushing this plan to destroy the Alamo as we know it. Part of this plan includes the removal of the Alamo Memorial, the Cenotaph, which has stood in Alamo Plaza since the 1936 centennial, to a site blocks away.
The plan also calls for rebuilding the original plaza walls, but not with limestone as they would have been over 180 years ago, but with German-made, see-through glass. Bush wants to turn this hallowed ground into a Disney-like theme park. And just what does Bush think Texas, and himself for that matter, have to gain from this controversial plan?
Ann McGlone, AIA, a preservation architect and a former Historic Preservation Officer for the City of San Antonio, voiced her objections in a May 2017 Houston Chronicle article. McGlone thinks the plan is motivated more by politics than by design. “I think George P. Bush has some very high political ambitions, and this might be part of that”, she told the Chronicle. And she’s almost certainly right on that point. Among the prominent opponents to Bush’s plan is Albert Seguin, a third great-grandson of Juan Seguin, one of the heroes of the Texas Revolution. Juan Seguin had been at the Alamo with Travis, Crockett and the others, but was sent as a courier to Gonzales and ultimately fought alongside Gen. Sam Houston at San Jacinto. In a letter to the GLO, Albert Seguin states:
The plan being favored greatly disrespects the ultimate sacrifice made by the men who fought at the Alamo and died at the Alamo for the right to self govern. With all due respect to George Skarmeas, not a Texan, he has stated that “We cannot single out one moment in time.” However, the Alamo is about a brief period of time, a very crucial period for Texas—1836.
Bush has contracted with a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based company called PDP Architects, led by George C. Skarmeas, to develop this so-called ‘new image’ for the Alamo. Commissioner Bush asked the Texas Legislature to appropriate $175,000,000 for the project. $100,000,000 has been appropriated to start implementing the reimaging of this most sacred battle site. The “Reimagine the Alamo” plan will cost Texas taxpayers an estimated $450,000,000 to implement.
The motivations of Bush and PDP could not be any more clear. According to the Austin American Statesman:
Writing at the Rivard Report in June, Jerry Patterson, Bush’s predecessor as Land Commissioner, wrote that, “When asked, `Why not restore the Alamo to its 1836 appearance?’ the answer from the Alamo chief planner, George Skarmeas, was always, `The events of 1836 were just one small chapter in 10,000 years of history.’”
According to Rick Range from Save the Alamo, by Skarmeas and PDP’s own admission, this plan “will greatly diminish the significance of the world-famous 1836 Alamo battle. In addition to the changes listed above, here just some of the additional changes Commissioner Bush is backing:
- The plan calls for the west side of Alamo Plaza to be lined with trees, tables, chairs, and canopies to create a “tourist-friendly environment”.
- Spend millions of dollars to renovate three old buildings across Alamo Street into a 135,000 square foot “multicultural” museum. The 1836 Alamo Battle story will have to be abbreviated to fit inside the basement.
- Build an open-air restaurant and garden/observation deck atop the three renovated buildings.
According to the Save the Alamo website:
The Texas General Land Office took over management of the Alamo from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in 2015. The General Land Office did not disclose their plans to transform the Alamo and Alamo Plaza into a glass-enclosed 21st century theme park until after seizing control. Commissioner Bush should be asked to explain why he fully endorses the Reimagine the Alamo Plan, and why a Pennsylvania-based company, instead of a Texas-based company, was selected to develop the Reimagine the Alamo Master Plan. The above facts were presented by Dr. George C. Skarmeas at an April 10, 2017 public hearing in San Antonio, Texas, reported by the San Antonio Express News April 11, 2017, and approved by the San Antonio City Council May 11, 2017.
Texas GOP leaders are currently pressuring Bush to revise this plan to make sure the battle is still the signature element of the history of the mission. More can be found on the plan at www.reimaginethealamo.org
Learn more about the efforts to halt the project at www.savethealamo.us
Contact your state officials and let them know how you feel about this project:
Rep. James Frank (TX House 69th district)
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
(512) 463-8161 Fax
1206 Hatton Road
Wichita Falls, TX 76302
The Honorable Craig Estes (TX Senate District 30)
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, TX 78711
(512) 463-8874 (FAX)
2525 Kell Blvd., Suite 302
Wichita Falls, TX 76308
If you live elsewhere in Texas, click here to find your state officials contact info.
Note: Information for this article and for SaveTheAlamo.us contributed in part by John L. Hinnant, San Antonio, Texas