July Artifact of the Month

By: Ernesto Rodriguez, III, Alamo Associate Curator

For close to three centuries, the Alamo has stood as a reminder of San Antonio’s past. One reason for the Alamo’s survival was the of adaptive reuse, or repurposing, of the buildings on the site. After the Mission San Antonio de Valero closed, the former mission compound became a fortress, guarding the town from outside threats. This fortress was used by five nations, Spain, Mexico, Republic of Texas, United States and the Confederate States of America. The eventual departure of the U.S. Army in 1877 left the Alamo’s future unsure but this changed quickly when businessman Honore Grenet purchased the Long Barrack (originally called the Convento) from the Catholic Church for use as a mercantile establishment.

This month’s artifact is the keystone to the stone gate leading into the Convento Courtyard where goods were unloaded for Grenet’s store. It is made of carved limestone with the initials “H G” intertwined and the 1878 carved below. This artifact serves as a reminder of the Alamo’s ability to survive through time owing to its ability to be transformed into something useful to the community. The Long Barrack was used as a mercantile establishment from 1877 through 1905 when it was purchased by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and deeded to the State. Today, this keystone is located by the Alamo amphitheater as reminder of the Alamo’s fascinating past.