Remember the Alamo

The shameful state of the area surrounding  what is left of the historic Texas shrine has long bothered Red.  Red has always found it unsettling to walk out of the most famous place in all of Texas, gaze across the street and see the Ripley’s Odditorium and a Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum with a life-size scowling Tom Landry looking back at him.  That may be changing soon, as at long last, a plan to create a more appropriate historic district around the Alamo is in the works.  The designation of the Alamo by UNESCO as a World Heritage site has helped.  Despite deranged Tea Party beliefs that this was the first step towards the UN taking over Texas or some other such nonsense, the designation seems to have finally prompted the State and the City of San Antonio to do more to preserve and protect the hallowed grounds of the mission turned fort.  The Texas Tribune has more.

Surrounded by figures clad in period costumes, including a Davy Crockett look-alike, Texas and San Antonio officials gathered in front of the Alamo on Thursday to formalize a long-awaited agreement to preserve the historic mission and spruce up its appeal to visitors.

Representatives from the Texas General Land Office, the city of San Antonio and the Alamo Endowment Board put pen to paper, signing an agreement to develop a master plan for the Alamo Historic District and Complex. Although similar past efforts have failed, state officials are optimistic that this time the plan will stick.

Notions of drafting a master plan to revamp the Alamo are not new, as Dinnin said the presentation of the Alamo and the surrounding area have long underwhelmed visitors. Previous efforts to revamp the monument and prevent growing downtown San Antonio from completely swallowing it failed to take hold, or stalled due to a lack of funding. 

Dinnin said she is optimistic this plan won’t run into similar roadblocks. While discussions about forming an agreement were in the words before the UNESCO designation, Dinnin said it demonstrated the need for serious work to be done at the historic missions. 

“It’s really obvious physically when you’re here,” she said. “The city has grown up around the Alamo and it’s hard to find…you have to look at little bit harder than we should have to look. It’s right in the middle of the heart of downtown San Antonio and, in one way, that means it has served its purpose – it was put here to establish a city. But at the same time, it’s hard to find and a lot of the pieces and the important history is lost unless you already know what happened here.”

Gene Powell – who serves on the Alamo Endowment Board alongside prominent philanthropists including Red McCombs and Ramona Bass – said he hopes to see the Alamo gain the same notoriety as places like Gettysburg, Pennsylvania or Jamestown, Virginia. Most visitors now, he said, only spend an average of eight minutes at the mission.

“There’s just not that much left of it,” he said.

Hotels, shops and roadways have crept closer over the years, encroaching onto land once part of the original mission property. Last week, the land office announced plans to buy three buildings neighboring the Alamo, but Dinnin said the buildings’ fate will be determined by the master plan. 

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