Alamo Master Plan Update
On May 11, the San Antonio City Council unanimously approved the Alamo Master Plan and conceptually approved plans to close Alamo Street, from Market Street to Houston Street, and Crockett Street, from Losoya Street to Bonham, as well as repairing and relocating the Cenotaph. The Council’s vote was a critical step in the process to restore the Alamo Church and Long Barrack, and better tell the complete story of the nearly 300-year old Alamo complex.
The May 11 vote marks the beginning of the next phase of the project, which will include the selection of an architect(s) for the Plaza and Alamo Museum, as well as a robust public involvement program, including additional public meetings, review and/or action by various regulatory agencies. The May 11 vote did not address design elements of the plan, including details such as materials, porosity, placemaking, shade, and other important design features. Those details will also be determined after a continued public input process and further study.
The design will achieve these five key concepts:
1. Restoration of the Church and Long Barracks.
The Church and the Long Barracks must be restored. The Master Plan proposes an intense multi-year conservation program to address immediate concerns, undertake a wide range of tests to fully understand the mechanisms of deterioration and decay, and develop methods for addressing them in order to ensure the long-term protection of these national treasures.
2. Delineation of the historic footprint.
The Master Plan proposes to outline the historic footprint of the Alamo and reestablish its relationship to the Church and the Long Barrack through archeology and interpretation. An interpretation of the historic South Gate is a critical first step in allowing guests to properly understand the site. The Master Plan also proposes to provide a clear differentiation between the 1936 Garden and the historic complex by re-purposing the 1936 Garden as a park for visitors and San Antonio residents to enjoy.
3. Recapture the Historic Mission Plaza and create a sense of reverence and respect on the historic battlefield.
The Master Plan proposes that Alamo Street from Houston Street to Market Street and Crockett Street from Losoya Street to Bonham be closed to vehicular traffic. The Plan also proposes to interpret a section of the mission era acequia and lower the elevation of the Alamo Plaza to the living surface of the historic mission compound, which is 18 to 24 inches below the current elevation. This would also require the repair and relocation of the Cenotaph.
4. Repurpose the Crockett, Woolworth and Palace buildings into a world-class visitor center and museum that tells the story of the Battle of the Alamo and over 300 years of layered history.
These historic buildings have been purchased by the Texas General Land Office (GLO). By preserving the facades and repurposing the interior of the buildings, the State will create a 135,000 square foot visitor center and museum, including a rooftop garden and restaurant overlooking the Alamo. The museum will provide an extensive exhibit about the Battle of the Alamo and use technology to produce a visual representation of the site over its 300-year history. This museum will provide space needed to display thousands of Alamo artifacts, including those in the Phil Collins Texana Collection. In total, there will be eight acres dedicated to telling the story of the Alamo. The Master Plan proposes to open the 1936 Garden to the public and replace the rock walls behind the Alamo with a welcoming enclosure and relocate all the programs and activities that currently occur in the Garden to the newly restored Alamo Plaza courtyard, which will serve as an extension of the museum.
5. Create a sense of arrival to the site and enhance connectivity between the site and other public spaces.
The closure of South Alamo creates a more dramatic approach for visitors that begins at Commerce Street and continues north along a landscaped, pedestrian-only paseo to the new South Gate entrance to the Alamo. This new approach, together with landscaping and wayfinding improvements to Houston, Bonham, and Losoya streets, will enhance connectivity between the Alamo and other historic landmarks, including Hemisfair, La Villita, and Market Square. The site’s connection to the San Antonio River will be enhanced with an interpretation of the acequia that once ran through Alamo Plaza. In addition to greater connectivity, the Master Plan proposes the closure of Crockett from Losoya to Bonham, which will facilitate an additional five acres of public assembly space on the south side and east side of the Alamo Complex.
“This unanimous vote by the San Antonio City Council moves the Alamo Master Plan one step further towards restoring dignity and reverence to the site where Texas’ spirit of independence and liberty began in 1836,” said Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. “We spoke of the areas of strong consensus and heard from those concerned about detail elements of the plan. We are listening and considering options for revisions, but this vote was about continuing momentum and finding consensus on key concepts, such as preserving the Alamo Church and Long Barrack, restoring dignity to the site where the defenders died, and building a museum worthy of telling the Alamo story. This is our chance to ensure the Alamo’s past is told to future generations and to guarantee our grandkids get to learn about the heroism of the men and women who fought here, just like we did.”
About the Alamo Master Plan Governance
On October 15, 2015, the Texas General Land Office, the City of San Antonio and the private Alamo Endowment signed a Cooperative Agreement to fund and oversee the development of a new master plan and the implementation of that plan for the Alamo Historic District and Alamo Complex. The process is managed by the Alamo Management Committee, which consists of two representatives each from the three entities. Alamo Management Committee members currently include: Councilman Roberto Treviño and City Manager Sheryl Sculley representing the City of San Antonio; Deputy Commissioner Anne Idsal and Alamo Preservation Project Manager Kim Barker, representing the Texas General Land Office; and Ramona Bass and Gene Powell, representing the Alamo Endowment. Powell serves as Chairman of the Committee. The Alamo Management Committee receives input and advice from the Alamo Advisory Group, comprised of state and local elected officials and representatives, and by a Citizens Advisory Group comprised of 21 people appointed by the Mayor and City Council. The Texas Land Commissioner and Mayor of San Antonio serve as the Executive Committee, providing executive management oversight for the master plan.