Alamo Mission in San Antonio

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

The Alamo
Invalid designation
The chapel of the Alamo Mission is known as the "Shrine of Texas Liberty"[2]
Alamo Mission in San Antonio is located in Texas
Location300 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, Texas
 United States
Coordinates29°25′33″N 98°29′10″W / 29.42583°N 98.48611°W / 29.42583; -98.48611Coordinates: 29°25′33″N 98°29′10″W / 29.42583°N 98.48611°W / 29.42583; -98.48611
Area5 acres (2.0 ha)
Governing bodyDaughters of the Republic of Texas
Part ofAlamo Plaza Historic District (#77001425)
NRHP Reference #66000808[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHLIDecember 19, 1960[3]
Designated CPJuly 13, 1977[4]
Jump to: navigation, search
The Alamo
Invalid designation
The chapel of the Alamo Mission is known as the "Shrine of Texas Liberty"[2]
Alamo Mission in San Antonio is located in Texas
Location300 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, Texas
 United States
Coordinates29°25′33″N 98°29′10″W / 29.42583°N 98.48611°W / 29.42583; -98.48611Coordinates: 29°25′33″N 98°29′10″W / 29.42583°N 98.48611°W / 29.42583; -98.48611
Area5 acres (2.0 ha)
Governing bodyDaughters of the Republic of Texas
Part ofAlamo Plaza Historic District (#77001425)
NRHP Reference #66000808[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHLIDecember 19, 1960[3]
Designated CPJuly 13, 1977[4]

The Alamo, originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, is a former Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound and was the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. It is now a museum in the Alamo Plaza District of Downtown San Antonio, Texas, USA. It was built by Spanish Franciscan priest Antonio de Olivares and Payaya Indians, and along with the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar and the Acequia Madre de Valero is the origin of the present city of San Antonio, Texas.

The compound, which originally comprised a sanctuary and surrounding buildings, was built by the Spanish Empire in the 18th century for the education of local Native Americans after their conversion to Christianity. In 1793, the mission was secularized and soon abandoned. Ten years later, it became a fortress housing the Mexican Army group the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras, who likely gave the mission the name "Alamo."

Mexican soldiers held the mission until December 1835, when General Martin Perfecto de Cos surrendered it to the Texian Army following the siege of Bexar. A relatively small number of Texian soldiers then occupied the compound. Texian General Sam Houston believed the Texians did not have the manpower to hold the fort and ordered Colonel James Bowie to destroy it. Bowie chose to disregard those orders and instead worked with Colonel James C. Neill to fortify the mission. On February 23, 1836 Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna led a large force of Mexican soldiers into San Antonio de Bexar and promptly initiated a siege. The siege ended on March 6, when the Mexican army attacked the Alamo; by the end of the Battle of the Alamo all or almost all of the defenders were killed. When the Mexican army retreated from Texas at the end of the Texas Revolution, they tore down many of the Alamo walls and burned some of the buildings.

For the next five years, the Alamo was periodically used to garrison soldiers, both Texian and Mexican, but was ultimately abandoned. In 1849, several years after Texas was annexed to the United States, the US Army began renting the facility for use as a quartermaster's depot. The US Army abandoned the mission in 1876 after nearby Fort Sam Houston was established. The Alamo chapel was sold to the state of Texas, which conducted occasional tours but made no effort to restore it. The remaining buildings were sold to a mercantile company which operated them as a wholesale grocery store.

After forming in 1892, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) began trying to preserve the Alamo. In 1905, Adina Emilia de Zavala and Clara Driscoll successfully convinced the legislature to purchase the buildings and to name the DRT permanent custodians of the site. For the next six years, de Zavala and Driscoll quarrelled over how to best restore the mission, culminating in a court case to decide which of their competing DRT chapters controlled the Alamo. As a result of the feud, Texas governor Oscar B. Colquitt briefly took the complex under state control and began restorations in 1912; the site was given back to the DRT later that year. The legislature took steps in 1988 and again in 1994 to transfer control of the Alamo to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department but the attempt failed after then-governor George W. Bush vowed to veto any bill removing the DRT's authority.


Monument to Fray Antonio de Olivares in San Antonio, Texas, USA.

From the Convent of Querétaro, organized several expeditions to the region of Texas, an area of ​​great strategic importance to the Spanish crown. With that goal in 1675, an expedition formed by Fray Antonio de Olivares, Fray Francisco Hidalgo, Fray Juan Larios and Fernando del Bosque, were sent to explore and recognize the country beyond the borders of Rio Grande, to test the possibilities of new settlements in the area.

On March 1, 1700 Fray Antonio de Olivares founded in the valley of the Circumcision the missions of San Bernardo and Mission San Francisco Solano to 5 miles (8.0 km) from the Rio Grande in Coahuila, Mexico. Today's municipality of Guerrero is the approximate location of the mission.[5] In 1706 he was appointed guardian of the College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro, where he remained three years.

In 1709, he participated in the expedition headed by Pedro de Aguirre, together with Fray Isidro de Espinosa, exploring the territory where now the city of San Antonio until Colorado River. The same year he traveled to Spain to convince the authorities of the importance that had to maintain and establish new missions to the bank of the San Antonio River in the present San Antonio. In remained in Spain six years (1715).

In 1716, Fray Antonio de Olivares wrote to the Viceroy of New Spain, telling their hopes and plans for the future mission, and urged him to send families of settlers to found a town.[6] In the same letter he stressed that it was necessary for some of these families were skilled in the useful arts and industries, "to teach the Indians all that should be required to be useful and capable citizens" .

Finally, perseverance of Fray Antonio was answered and the Viceroyalty gave formal approval for the mission in late 1716, and assigned responsibility for their establishment to Martín de Alarcón, the governor of Coahuila y Tejas.[6] In this same letter, he stressed that it was necessary for some of these families were skilled in the useful arts and industries, "to teach the Indians all that should be required to be useful and capable citizens."

Fray Antonio de Olivares was organizing the founding of the new mission, from the next Mission San Francisco Solano, turning often met with the Indians of the area (Payaya Indians), gradually earning their love and respect. It remained only at the site of the mission for some time organizing everything with the Indians, the group finally stood straw structure, branches and mud near the head of San Antonio River. This mission was called San Antonio de Valero, a name derived from "San Antonio de Padua" and Viceroy New Spain, Marquess of Valero. The mission was located near a community of Coahuiltecan and was originally inhabited by indigenous three to five converted from Mission San Francisco Solano.[6]

Unfortunately, his work was suspended for some time, suffered an accident while crossing a bridge, the foot of the animal he was riding slipped into a hole, falling violently to the ground and breaking his leg. When he could walk again, mission changed place, transferring it to the west bank of the river, where floods were less likely. On orders of his religious order, Fray Antonio de Olivares transferred the Mission San Francisco Solano to the new Mission of San Antonio de Valero.[6]

He also built the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar, on the west side of the San Antonio River, approximately 1 mile from the mission.[6] It was designed to protect the system of missions and civilian settlements in central Texas and to ensure the representation of Spain in the region of the aggression of French, British and Americans. The operating complex was completed with the construction of the first ditch of Texas (Acequia Madre de Valero),[7] 6 miles long, built to irrigate 400 hectares and supply of the inhabitants of the new facilities built.

Fray Antonio de Olivares was aided by Payaya Indians to build the bridge that connected the Misión de San Antonio de Valero and Presidio San Antonio de Bexar, and the Acequia Madre de Valero.

On May 1, 1718, according to a statement certified to be preserved, Don Martin de Alarcon gave possession to Fray Antonio de Olivares Misión de San Antonio de Valero, later known as "The Alamo", based officially the mission.[6] On July 8, 1718 held at the new Mission San Antonio de Valero the first baptism, as reflected in the baptismal register of the mission.[6]

Over the next several decades, the mission complex expanded to cover 3 acres (1.2 ha).[8] The first permanent building was likely the two-story, L-shaped stone residence for the priests. The building served as parts of the west and south edges of an inner courtyard.[9] A series of adobe barracks buildings were constructed to house the mission Indians and a textile workshop was erected. By 1744, over 300 Indian converts resided at San Antonio de Valero. The mission was largely self-sufficient, relying on its 2000 head of cattle and 1300 sheep for food and clothing. Each year, the mission's farmland produced up to 2000 bushels of corn and 100 bushels of bean; cotton was also grown.[10]

The first stones were laid for a more permanent church building in 1744.[10] The church, its tower and the sacristy fell down in the late 1750s.[11] Construction began again in 1758. The new chapel was located at the south end of the inner courtyard. Constructed of 4 feet (1.2 m) thick limestone blocks, it was intended to be three stories high, topped by a dome, with bell towers on either side.[8] Its shape was a traditional cross, with a long nave and short transept.[11] Although the first two levels were completed, the bell towers and third story were never begun.[8] Four stone arches were erected to support the planned dome, but the dome itself was not built.[12] As the church was never completed, it is unlikely that is was ever used for religious services.[11]

The chapel was intended to be highly decorated. Niches were carved on either side of the door to hold statues. The lower-level niches displayed Saint Francis and Saint Dominic, while the second-level niches contained statues of Saint Clare and Saint Margaret of Cortona. Carvings were also completed around the chapel's door.[8]

This is one of the first drawings depicting Mission San Antonio de Valero. It was created in 1838 by Mary Maverick and clearly shows statues within the niches.

Up to 30 adobe or mud buildings were constructed to serve as workrooms, storerooms, and homes for the Indian residents. As the nearby presidio was perpetually understaffed, the mission was built to withstand attacks by Apache and Comanche raiders.[9] In 1745, 100 mission Indians successfully drove off a band of 300 Apaches which had surrounded the presidio. Their actions saved the presidio, the mission, and likely the town from destruction.[13] Walls were erected around the Indian homes in 1758, likely in response to a massacre at the San Saba mission.[9] The convent and church were not fully enclosed within the 8 feet (2.4 m) walls. The walls were built 2 feet (0.61 m) thick and enclosed an area 480 feet (150 m) long (north-south) and 160 feet (49 m) wide (east-west). For additional protection, a turret housing three cannon was added near the main gate in 1762. By 1793 an additional one-pounder cannon had been placed on a rampart near the convent.[14]

The population of Indians fluctuated, from a high of 328 in 1756 to a low of 44 in 1777.[9] The new commandant general of the interior provinces, Teodoro de Croix, thought the missions were largely a liability and began taking actions to decrease their influence. In 1778, he ruled that all unbranded cattle belonged to the government. Raiding Apache tribes had stolen most of the mission's horses, making it extremely difficult to round up and brand the cattle. As a result, when the ruling took effect, the mission lost a great deal of its wealth and was unable to support a larger population of converts.[15] By 1793, only 12 Indians remained.[9][Note 1] By this point, few of the hunting and gathering tribes in Texas had not been Christianized. In 1793, Mission San Antonio de Valero was secularized.[16]

The mission was soon abandoned. Most locals were uninterested in the buildings.[17] Visitors were often more impressed. In 1828, French naturalist Jean Louis Berlandier visited the area. He mentioned the Alamo complex: "An enormous battlement and some barracks are found there, as well as the ruins of a church which could pass for one of the loveliest monuments of the area, even if its architecture is overloaded with ornamentation like all the ecclesiastical buildings of the Spanish colonies."[18]


In the 19th century, the mission complex became known as "the Alamo". The name may have been derived from the grove of nearby cottonwood trees, known in Spanish as álamo. Alternatively, the complex may have taken the nickname of a company of Spanish soldiers. In 1803, the abandoned compound was occupied by the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras, from Álamo de Parras in Coahuila. Locals often called them simply the "Alamo Company".[12]

During the Mexican War of Independence, parts of the mission frequently served as a prison for those whose political beliefs did not match the current authority.[19] Between 1806 and 1812 it also served as San Antonio's first hospital. Spanish records indicate that some renovations were made for this purpose, but no details are provided.[17]

The buildings were transferred from Spanish to Mexican control in 1821 after Mexico received its independence. Soldiers continued to garrison in the complex until December 1835, when General Martín Perfecto de Cos surrendered to Texian forces during the Texas Revolution. In the few months that Cos supervised the troops garrisoned in San Antonio, he had ordered many improvements to the Alamo.[20] Cos's men likely demolished the four stone arches that were to support a future chapel dome. The debris from these was used to build a ramp to the apse of the chapel building. There, the Mexican soldiers placed three cannon, which could fire over the walls of the roofless building.[21] To close a gap between the church and the barracks (formerly the convent building) and the south wall, the soldiers built a palisade.[21] When Cos retreated, he left behind 19 cannon,[22] including an 16-pounder.[23][24][25]

Battle of the Alamo[edit]

You can plainly see that the Alamo never was built by a military people for a fortress.

Letter, dated January 18, 1836, from engineer Green B. Jameson to Sam Houston, commander of the Texian forces.[26]

With Cos's departure, there was no longer an organized garrison of Mexican troops in Texas,[27] and many Texians believed the war was over.[28] Colonel James C. Neill assumed command of the 100 soldiers who remained. Neill requested that an additional 200 men be sent to fortify the Alamo,[29] and expressed fear that his garrison could be starved out of the Alamo after a four-day siege.[30] However, the Texian government was in turmoil and unable to provide much assistance.[31] Determined to make the best of the situation, Neill and engineer Green B. Jameson began working to fortify the Alamo. Jameson installed the cannons that Cos had left along the walls.[22]

Heeding Neill's warnings, General Sam Houston ordered Colonel James Bowie to take 35–50 men to Bexar to help Neill move all of the artillery and destroy the Alamo.[31] There were not enough oxen to move the artillery someplace safer, and most of the men believed the complex was of strategic importance to protecting the settlements to the east. On January 26 the Texian soldiers passed a resolution in favor of holding the Alamo.[32] On February 11, Neill went on furlough and pursued additional reinforcements and supplies for the garrison while in Gonzales.[33] William Travis and James Bowie agreed to share command of the Alamo.[34][35]

1854 drawing-The Alamo chapel would have looked something like this in the 1830s.

On February 23 the Mexican army, under the command of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, arrived in San Antonio de Bexar.[36] For the next thirteen days, the Mexican Army laid siege to the Alamo. During the siege, work continued on the interior of the Alamo. After Mexican soldiers tried to block the irrigation ditch leading into the Alamo, Jameson supervised the digging of a well at the south end of the plaza. Although the men hit water, they weakened an earth and timber parapet by the low barracks; the mound collapsed, leaving no way to fire safely over that wall.[37]

The Fall of the Alamo, painted by Theodore Gentilz in 1844, depicts the final assault.

The siege ended in a fierce battle on March 6. As the Mexican army overran the walls and began gathering in the interior of the Alamo compound, most of the Texians fell back to the long barracks (convent) and the chapel. During the siege, Texians had carved holes in many of the walls of these rooms so that they would be able to fire.[38] Each room had only one door which led into the courtyard[39] and which had been "buttressed by semicircular parapets of dirt secured with cowhides".[40] Some of the rooms even had trenches dug into the floor to provide some cover for the defenders.[41] Mexican soldiers used the abandoned Texian cannon to blow off the doors of the rooms, allowing Mexican soldiers to enter and defeat the Texians.[40]

The last of the Texians to die were the eleven men manning the two 12 lb (5.4 kg) cannon in the chapel.[42][43] The entrance to the church had been barricaded with sandbags, which the Texians were able to fire over. A shot from the 18 lb (8.2 kg) cannon destroyed the barricades, and Mexican soldiers entered the building after firing an initial musket volley. With no time to reload, the Texians, including Dickinson, Gregorio Esparza, and Bonham, grabbed rifles and fired before being bayoneted to death.[44] Texian Robert Evans was master of ordnance and had been tasked with keeping the gunpowder from falling into Mexican hands. Wounded, he crawled towards the powder magazine but was killed by a musket ball with his torch only inches from the powder.[44] If he had succeeded, the blast would have destroyed the church.[45]

Santa Anna ordered that the Texian bodies be stacked and burned.[46][Note 2] All or almost all of the Texian defenders were killed, although some historians believe that at least one Texian, Henry Warnell, successfully escaped from the battle. Warnell died several months later of wounds incurred either during the final battle or during his escape as a courier.[47][48] Most Alamo historians agree that 400–600 Mexicans were killed or wounded.[49][50][51] This would represent about one-third of the Mexican soldiers involved in the final assault, which Todish remarks is "a tremendous casualty rate by any standards".[49]

Further military use[edit]

Following the battle of the Alamo, one thousand Mexican soldiers, under General Juan Andrade, remained at the mission. For the next two months they repaired and fortified the complex, so that it could continue to serve as a major Mexican fort within Texas. No records remain of what improvements they made to the structure.[52] After the Mexican army's defeat at the Battle of San Jacinto and the capture of Santa Anna, the Mexican army agreed to leave Texas, effectively ending the Texas Revolution. As Andrade and his garrison joined the retreat on May 24, they spiked the cannons, tore down many of the Alamo walls, and set fires throughout the complex.[53] Only a few buildings survived their efforts—the chapel was left in ruins, most of the Long Barracks was still standing, and the building that had contained the south wall gate and several rooms was mostly intact.[21]

The Texians briefly used the Alamo as a fortress in December 1836 and again in January 1839. The Mexican army regained control in March 1842 and September 1842 as they briefly took San Antonio de Bexar. According to historians Roberts and Olson, "both groups carved names in the Alamo's walls, dug musket rounds out of the holds, and knocked off stone carvings".[53] Pieces of the debris were sold to tourists, and in 1840 the San Antonio town council passed a resolution allowing local citizens to take stone from the Alamo at a cost of $5 per wagonload.[53] By the late 1840s, even the four statues located on the front wall of the chapel had been removed.[54]

Alamo Plaza in the 1860s

On January 13, 1841, the Republic of Texas passed an act returning the sanctuary of the Alamo to the Roman Catholic Church.[55] By 1845, when Texas was annexed to the United States, a colony of bats occupied the abandoned complex and weeds and grass covered many of the walls.[56]

As the Mexican-American War loomed in 1846, 2000 United States Army soldiers were sent to San Antonio under Brigadier General John Wool. By the end of the year, they had appropriated part of the Alamo complex for the Quartermaster's Department. Within eighteen months, the convent building had been restored to serve as offices and storerooms. The chapel remained vacant, however, as the army, the Roman Catholic Church, and the city of San Antonio bickered over its ownership. An 1855 decision by the Texas Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Catholic Church was the rightful owner of the chapel.[55] Even while litigation was ongoing, the army rented the chapel from the Catholic Church for $150 per month.[56]

Under the army's oversight, the Alamo was greatly repaired. Soldiers cleared the grounds and rebuilt the old convent and the mission walls, primarily from original stone which was strewn along the ground. During the renovations, a new wooden roof was added to the chapel and the campanulate, or bell-shaped facade, was added to the front wall of the chapel. At the time, reports suggested that the soldiers found several skeletons while clearing the rubble from the chapel floor. The new chapel roof was destroyed in a fire in 1861.[56] The army also cut additional windows into the chapel, adding two on the upper level of the facade as well as additional windows on the other three sides of the building.[54] The complex eventually contained a supply depot, offices, storage facilities, a blacksmith shop, and stables.[57]

During the American Civil War, Texas joined the Confederacy, and the Alamo complex was taken over by the Confederate Army.[58] In February 1861, the Texan Militia, under direction from the Texas Secession Convention and led by Ben McCullough and Sam Maverick, confronted General Twiggs, commander of all US Forces in Texas and headquartered at the Alamo. Twiggs elected to surrender and all supplies were turned over to the Texans.[59] Following the Confederacy's defeat, the United States Army again maintained control over the Alamo.[57] Shortly after the war ended, however, the Catholic Church requested that the army vacate the premises so that the Alamo could become a place of worship for local German Catholics. The army refused, and the church made no further attempts at retaking the complex.[58]


Mercantile firm Hugo & Schmeltzer operated a store on the site in the 1880s.

The army abandoned the Alamo in 1876, when Fort Sam Houston was established in San Antonio. At about that time, the Church sold the convent to Honore Grenet, who added a new two-story wood building to the complex. Grenet used the convent and the new building for a wholesale grocery business.[56] After Grenet's death in 1882, his business was purchased by mercantile firm Hugo & Schmeltzer, which continued to operate the store.[60]

San Antonio's first rail service began in 1877, and the city's tourism industry began to grow. The city heavily advertised the Alamo, using photographs or drawings that showed only the chapel, not the city surrounding it. Many of the visitors were disappointed with their visit; in 1877 tourist Harrier P. Spofford wrote that the chapel was "a reproach to all San Antonio. Its wall is overthrown and removed, its dormitories are piled with military stores, its battle-scarred front has been revamped and repainted and market carts roll to and fro on the spot where flames ascended ... over the funeral pyre of heroes".[61]

Ownership transfer[edit]

In 1883, the Catholic Church sold the chapel to the State of Texas for $20,000. The state hired Tom Rife to manage the building. He gave tours but did not make any efforts to restore the chapel, to the annoyance of many. In the past decades, soldiers and members of the local Masonic lodge, which had used the building for meetings, had inscribed various graffiti on the walls and statues. In May 1887 a devout Catholic who was incensed that Masonic emblems had been inscribed on a statue of Saint Theresa was arrested after breaking into the building and smashing statues with a sledgehammer.[60]

Adina de Zavala in 1910

The 50th anniversary of the fall of the Alamo received little attention. In an editorial after the fact, the San Antonio Express called for the formation of a new society that would help recognize important historical events. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) finally organized in 1892; one of their main goals was to preserve the Alamo.[62] Among its early members was Adina Emilia De Zavala, granddaughter of Republic of Texas Vice-President Lorenzo de Zavala. Shortly before the turn of the 20th century, Adina de Zavala convinced Gustav Schmeltzer, owner of the convent, to give the DRT first option in purchasing the building if it was ever sold. In 1903, Schmeltzer announced that he wanted to sell the convent building to a developer so that it could be turned into a hotel. He offered to sell the building to the DRT for $75,000, which they did not have. De Zavala decided to ask for a donation from the owners of the Menger Hotel, hoping that they would be willing to pay so as not to have competition. On the day of her impromptu visit, however, the owners were away and de Zavala struck up a conversation with a hotel patron, Clara Driscoll. Driscoll was an heiress who was very interested in Texas history and especially the Alamo.[63]

After their conversation, Driscoll joined the DRT and was almost immediately appointed chair of the San Antonio chapter's fund-raising committee. The DRT was able to negotiate a 30-day option on the property. The group would pay $500 up front, with an additional $4,500 due at the conclusion of the 30 days. On February 10, 1904, the group would owe $20,000, and the remainder of the cost would be paid in five annual installments of $10,000 each. On March 17, 1903, Driscoll paid the initial $500 deposit out of her personal funds. To raise the rest of the money, Driscoll's fund-raising committee sent tens of thousands of letters to Texas residents, asking each person to donate 50 cents. By the end of the 30-day option, the group had collected only $1,021.75 in donations.[64]

On April 17, Driscoll paid the remainder of the $4,500 from her own pocket. At the urging of both Driscoll and de Zavala, the Texas Legislature approved $5,000 for the committee to use as part of the next payment. The appropriation was vetoed by Governor S. W. T. Lanham, who said it was "not a justifiable expenditure of the taxpayers' money".[65] Undeterred, DRT members set up a collection booth outside of the Alamo and held several fundraising activities. Through these activities, they raised $5,662.23. Driscoll again agreed to make up the difference, and also agreed to pay the final $50,000. After hearing of her generosity, various newspapers in Texas dubbed her the "Savior of the Alamo".[65] As news of her donation spread, many groups throughout the state began to petition the legislature to reimburse Driscoll. In January 1905, de Zavala drafted a bill to that effect that was sponsored by representative Samuel Ealy Johnson, Jr. (father of future US President Lyndon Baines Johnson). The bill was passed, and Driscoll received all of her money back. The bill also named the DRT custodian of the Alamo and convent, and they received official control on September 5, 1905.[65]

Soon after the San Antonio chapter of the DRT gained custody of the Alamo, Driscoll and de Zavala began arguing over how best to preserve the building. De Zavala wished to restore the exterior of the buildings to a state similar to its 1836 appearance. As most of the defenders of the battle of the Alamo who died indoors had died in the convent (then called the long barracks), she wished to make that building a focal point of the site. She envisioned a museum and library on the ground floor, and a tribute to the defenders on the second floor. Driscoll, on the other hand, wanted to tear down the long barracks. According to Roberts and Olson, Driscoll wanted to create a monument similar to those she had seen in Europe, "a city center opened by a large plaza and anchored by an ancient chapel".[66]

Unable to convince de Zavala and her supporters to agree to tear down the convent, Driscoll and several other women seceded from the San Antonio chapter of the DRT and formed a competing chapter they named the Alamo Mission chapter. The two chapters promptly began arguing over which had oversight of the Alamo. Unable to quickly resolve the dispute, in February 1908 the executive committee of the DRT decided to lease out the building.[67] Angry with that decision, on February 10 de Zavala held a press conference and announced that a syndicate wanted to buy the chapel and tear it down.[67] She then barricaded herself in the Hugo and Schmetlzer building for three days.[68]

In response to the drama that de Zavala created, on February 12, Governor Thomas Mitchell Campbell ordered that the superintendent of public building and grounds take control of the property. The two DRT chapters took their dispute to the courts, which eventually named Driscoll's chapter the official custodians of the Alamo.[69] The DRT later expelled de Zavala and her followers.[70]

Pompeo Coppini - Italian Sculptor responsible of many monuments in Texas

According to Pompeo Coppini in his autobiography titled "From Dawn to Sunset," he became aware of the construction of the new hotel from his friend, architect Harvey L. Page, who had offered Coppini the possibility of building a David Crockett statue given that the hotel was to carry the name of this legendary hero. In his book, Coppini describes how he was the one who rushed over to De Zavala's home and convinced her of the importance of preserving the Alamo. Furthermore, It was also him who had the idea of going to Menger Hotel and persuading the owners, the Kampmann's, to buy the land where the Alamo stood to avoid competition. To their disappointment the owners were not at the hotel, and so they found Mrs George E. Eichlitz instead, the sister of Mrs Kampmann, who listened to Coppini's plea to save the Alamo and recommended them to talk to a distinguished and rich guest who was staying at the Hotel, Miss Driscoll, who could potentially be of their help.

Coppini took part once again in the preservation of the Alamo many years later by conceptualizing and executing the Alamo Cenotaph Monument which stands in the front of the mission. If Coppini's accounts are as truthful as he describes them to be in his autobiography, his contribution to the saving of the Alamo from commercial development has been largely disregarded by modern historians.

This 1907 postcard entreated citizens to Save the Alamo.


Theodore Roosevelt giving a speech at the Alamo, April 7, 1905. The picture shows the building that had been added by Hugo and Schmeltzer.

Driscoll offered to donate the money required to tear down the convent, build a stone wall around the Alamo complex, and convert the interior into a park.[70] The legislature was asked to make the final determination of what should be done with the convent. Many members of the legislature saw no good way to end the battle; Robert and Olson commented that "regardless of what they decided, they were going to end up having a group of very angry, very politically active women aligned against them".[71] The legislature thus postponed a decision until after the 1910 elections. Those elections gave the state a new governor, Oscar Branch Colquitt. On December 28, 1911, Colquitt held a meeting for "all persons interested, and who had any information they could give me, about the Alamo as it stood at the time of the butchery of Travis and his men".[71] Both de Zavala and Driscoll spoke, and Colquitt toured the property. Three months after his visit, Colquitt removed the DRT as official custodians of the Alamo, citing the fact that they had done nothing to restore the property since gaining control. He also announced an intent to rebuild the convent. Shortly thereafter, the legislature paid to demolish the building that had been added by Hugo and Schmeltzer and authorized $5000 to restore the rest of the complex. The restorations were begun but could not be finished as the appropriation was not large enough to cover all of the costs.[71]

Driscoll was livid over Colquitt's decisions and used her influence as a major donor to the Democratic Party to undermine him. At the time, Colquitt was considered running for U.S. Senate. Driscoll told the New York Herald Tribune that "the Daughters desire to have a Spanish garden on the site of the old mission, but the governor will not consider it. Therefore, we are going to fight him from the stump. ... We are also going to make speeches in the districts of State Senators who voted against and killed the amendment" to return control of the mission to the DRT.[72] In a compromise and to save face, Colquitt left the state, ostensibly on state business. This left Lieutenant Governor William Harding Mayes in authority. In 1913, Mayes agreed to allow the upper-story walls to be removed from the convent, leaving only the one-story walls of the west and south portions of the building. The conflict over what to do with the buildings became known as the Second Battle of the Alamo.[72]

The Alamo and Downtown San Antonio c. 1920. In the center of the surrounding area are the remains of the "Long Barracks" which had been covered by the Hugo and Schmeltzer building

Over the next several decades, Driscoll continued to work towards creating a plaza with the chapel as its centerpiece. In 1931, she convinced the state legislature to purchase two tracts of land between the chapel and Crockett street. The legislature appropriated most of the money necessary to buy the land, and Driscoll paid the remainder out of her own pocket. The legislature was later convinced to repay her.[73] In 1935, she convinced the city of San Antonio not to place a fire station in a building near the Alamo; the DRT later purchased that building and made it the DRT library.[74]

During the Great Depression, money from the Works Progress Administration and the National Youth Administration was used to construct a wall around the Alamo, to build a museum, and to raze several old buildings that were left on the Alamo property.[75]

As recognition for their efforts in trying to preserve the Alamo, when Driscoll died in July 1945 and de Zavala died in March 1955, their bodies were laid in state in the Alamo Chapel.[76]

The Alamo was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 19, 1960, was documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1961,[77] was added to the National Register of Historic Places when they were founded in 1966, and is a contributing property to the Alamo Plaza Historic District, which was designated in 1977. As San Antonio prepared to host the Hemisfair in 1968, the long barracks was roofed and turned into a museum. Few structural changes have taken place since then.[78]

According to Herbert Malloy Mason's Spanish Missions of Texas, the Alamo is one of "the finest examples of Spanish ecclesiastical building on the North American continent".[79][Note 3] The mission, along with the others located in San Antonio, is at risk from environmental factors, however. The limestone used to construct the buildings was taken from the banks of the San Antonio River. It expands when confronted with moisture and then contracts when temperatures drop, shedding small pieces of limestone with each cycle. Measures have been taken to partially combat the problem.[80]

Ownership dispute[edit]

In 1988, a theater near the Alamo unveiled a new movie, Alamo ... the Price of Freedom. The 40-minute long film would be screened several times each day. The movie attracted much protest from Mexican American activists, who decried the anti-Mexican comments and complained that it ignored Tejano contributions to the battle. The movie was re-edited in response to the complaints, but the controversy grew to the point that many activists began pressuring the legislature to move control of the Alamo to the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).[81] In response to pressure from Hispanic groups, state representative Orlando Garcia of San Antonio began legislative hearings into DRT finances. The DRT agreed to make their financial records more open, and the hearings were canceled.[82]

[The Alamo is] one of the most important history structures in the state. It belongs to everyone, or at least it should. ... [It] shouldn't be managed by any private group–I don't care if it is the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the Elks, the Muslims, or the Water Buffalo Club.

Texas legislator Ron Wilson, who wished to transfer oversight of the Alamo to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.[83]

Shortly after that, San Antonio representative Jerry Beauchamp proposed that the Alamo be transferred from the DRT and to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Many minority legislators agreed with him.[83] However, the San Antonio mayor, Henry Cisneros, advocated that control remain with the DRT, and the legislature shelved the bill.[83]

Rear view of the main building of the Alamo, circa 2008

Several years later, Carlos Guerra, a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News, began writing columns attacking the DRT for their care of the Alamo. According to him, the DRT had kept the temperature too low within the chapel, causing water vapor to form. The water vapor would then mix with car exhaust fumes and damage the limestone walls. These allegations prompted the legislature in 1993 to again attempt to transfer control of the Alamo to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. At the same time, State Senator Gregory Luna filed a competing bill to transfer oversight of the Alamo to the Texas Historical Commission.[84]

By the following year, some advocacy groups in San Antonio had begun pressing for the mission to be turned into a larger historical park. They wished to restore the chapel to its 18th century appearance and focus the complex on its mission days rather than the activities of the Texas Revolution.[84] The DRT was outraged. The head of the group's Alamo Committee, Ana Hartman, claimed that the dispute was gender based. According to her, " "There's something macho about it. Some of the men who are attacking us just resent what has been a successful female venture since 1905."[85]

The dispute was mostly resolved in 1994, when then-governor George W. Bush vowed to veto any legislation that would displace the DRT as caretakers of the Alamo.[86] Later that year, the DRT erected a marker on the mission grounds recognizing that they had once served as Indian burial grounds.[87]

Modern use[edit]

Today the site of the Alamo Mission is a museum.
This photo gives a sense of
the small size of the building.
Alamo Mission (2011)

As of 2002, the Alamo welcomed over four million visitors each year, making it one of the most popular historic sites in the United States.[88] Visitors may tour the chapel, as well as the Long Barracks, which contains a small museum with paintings, weapons, and other artifacts from the era of the Texas Revolution.[89] Additional artifacts are displayed in another complex building, alongside a large diorama that recreates the compound as it existed in 1836. A large mural, known as the Wall of History, portrays the history of the Alamo complex from its mission days to modern times.[2]

Alamo Entrance

Although the governor's office receives annual audits of the site's financial records, for at least a decade under Rick Perry the audits have not been examined. The site has an annual operating budget of $6 million, primarily funded through sales in the gift store.[90][91] In 2009 the DRT commissioned the first land survey of the Alamo by Westar Alamo Land Surveyors, Inc. which was signed by Registered Professional Land Surveyor Jose A. Trevino in November 2009.[92]

That same year,[93] a division arose between current, and former members of the DRT's board of management and the Alamo Committee over the current administration's management, preservation and financial vision for the Alamo. The disagreement created factions and would eventually erupt into a civil war within the organization, leading to the expulsions of three outspoken DRT members beginning in October 2010.[94] Early in 2011, Texas State Senator Leticia R. Van de Putte, whose district includes The Alamo historic site, drafted legislation [95] for increased oversight and reporting of the DRT at the Alamo. Through a lengthy investigation by the State's Attorney General, Greg Abbott,[96][97] an attempt blocked by Governor Rick Perry to trademark the words "The Alamo", a contract dispute to market the Alamo with William Morris Endeavor,[98] and a failed 175th Anniversary symphony concert celebration with Pop star Phil Collins,[99] the DRT maintained control of the Alamo through 2010, and most of 2011. However, Van De Putte's legislation which gained momentum throughout the 2011 Texas Legislative session, ended up as HB3726. In an extended session, House Bill 3726 was passed and signed by Texas Governor Rick Perry [100] before leaving to begin his campaign for the 2012 Presidential election,[101] effectively ending the DRT's 106 year reign as the sole caretakers of the Alamo. The new law placed the Alamo under the care and leadership of the Texas General Land Office (GLO). On January 20, 2012 the DRT fired their Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Tony Caridi, who had been the face of the Alamo for nearly three years.[102] In an official statement, the GLO claimed that "Caridi was fired with the Land Office's consent", that the DRT alleged Caridi "had committed multiple serious violations of the employee manual" Caridi was involved with the DRT's application for a federal trademark on the words "The Alamo" and a $900,000 promotions contract with the Beverly Hills based William Morris Endeavor Entertainment group. Caridi also organized what was to be a nationally televised symphony concert with pop star Phil Collins, Ricky Skaggs, and other stars to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the March 6, 1836 battle of the Alamo. Although Collins and Skaggs agreed to perform without charge, due to the DRT's highly publicized legal and legislative woes, Caridi was unable to raise the funds needed to pay for the concert.[99] The DRT claims that Caridi had been writing a tell-all book using a work computer on company time. Caridi confirms that he has written a

manuscript entitled "Neglected Legacy" and that he has sought the representation of a New York City based literary agent, however, the name of the publishing company, and the release date have yet to be announced. Caridi claims the exposé is based on facts and corroborated using recordings, emails, documents and photographic evidence. The DRT claims, after having seized copies from Caridi's computer, that the manuscript contains "outrageous, untrue, and slanderous inappropriate allegations about his employer, DRT members, legislators and coworkers."[103] Both Caridi, and the DRT anticipated litigation, on Friday September 20, 2012 Caridi's attorney Adam Poncio, filed a lawsuit against the DRT claiming he was sexually harassed by a DRT board member. Caridi, states that rejecting the board member's repeated, unwanted advances; lead to retaliation against him.[104] Nearly two months later on November 20, 2012 the Texas Attorney General released to the public, a blistering 38 page report to the Legislature; the culmination of an eighteen month long investigation of the DRT's management practices of the Alamo, which began in 2010. The report findings state the DRT;did not properly maintain the Alamo, misused State funds for the organizations own benefit, failed to recognize or address conflicts of interest, allowed its own organizational prerogatives to interfere with its duty to act in the best interests of the State of Texas and the Alamo, failed to exercise sound business judgement, and violated State laws. The report points out that problems have been mostly with the DRT's leadership, and not the seven thousand members who devote countless hours of volunteer service. The DRT President General Karen Thompson in a statement called the report, disappointing and said; "further the DRT is shocked at the outrageously inaccurate conclusions within the report."[105] The DRT entered into an 18 month operating agreement with the GLO as a State contractor at the Alamo. The DRT's contract with the State will expire June 2013.[106] Masons still identify with the Alamo as an important landmark in their history, particularly because many of the Alamo heroes were themselves Masons. The Grand Lodge of Texas hosts a yearly remembrance ceremony in their honor on or near Texas Independence Day.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Mason lists the number as 52. Mason (1974), p. 56.
  2. ^ The only exception was the body of Gregorio Esparza, whose brother, Francisco Esparza, served in Santa Anna's army and received permission to give Gregorio a proper burial. Edmondson (2000), p. 374.
  3. ^ Mason believes that the remaining missions in San Antonio, as well as Presidio la Bahia in Goliad, Texas, are in a similar category to the Alamo building. Mason (1974), p. 71.


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ a b Thompson (2002), p. 119.
  3. ^ Heintzelman (May, 1975), National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Spanish Governor's Palace (PDF), National Park Service, retrieved 2009-06-22  and [1] PDF (852 KB)
  4. ^ Texas Historic Atlas
  5. ^ Weddle, Robert S. "San Francisco Solano Mission". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Adina Emilia De Zavala (December 8, 1917). "History and legends of The Alamo and others missions in and around San Antonio". History legends of de Zarichs Online. Retrieved July 16, 2013, to 14:00 pm. 
  7. ^ De Zavala, Adina; Flores, Richard R (1996). History and Legends of the Alamo and Other Missions in and Around San Antonio. Arte Publico Press. pp. 3, 4. ISBN 978-1-55885-181-8. 
  8. ^ a b c d Thompson (2002), p 18.
  9. ^ a b c d e Schoelwer (1985), p. 23.
  10. ^ a b Mason (1974), p. 44.
  11. ^ a b c Schoelwer (1985), p. 22.
  12. ^ a b Thompson (2002), p. 19.
  13. ^ Mason (1974, p. 45.
  14. ^ Schoelwer (1985), p. 24.
  15. ^ Mason (1974), p. 58.
  16. ^ Chipman (1992), p. 202.
  17. ^ a b Schoelwer (1985), p. 29.
  18. ^ Schoelwer (1985), p. 26.
  19. ^ Mason (1974), p. 61.
  20. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 10.
  21. ^ a b c Thompson (2002), p. 20.
  22. ^ a b Hardin (1994), p. 111.
  23. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 178.
  24. ^ John Bryant, Alamo cannon, 1997
  25. ^ Barbara L. Young, "CAYCE, HENRY PETTY," Handbook of Texas Online [2], accessed June 24, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
  26. ^ Lord (1961), p. 59.
  27. ^ Barr (1990), p. 64.
  28. ^ Hardin (1994), p. 91.
  29. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 29.
  30. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 30.
  31. ^ a b Todish et al. (1998), p. 31.
  32. ^ Hopewell (1994), p. 114.
  33. ^ Steve Goodson, The Runaway Scrape
  34. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 32.
  35. ^ Hardin (1994), p. 120.
  36. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 40.
  37. ^ Nofi (1992), p. 102.
  38. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 53.
  39. ^ Edmondson (2000), p. 370.
  40. ^ a b Hardin (1994), p. 147.
  41. ^ Petite (1998), p. 114.
  42. ^ Todish et al. (1998), p. 54.
  43. ^ Petite (1998), p. 115.
  44. ^ a b Edmondson (2000), p. 371.
  45. ^ Tinkle (1985), p. 216.
  46. ^ Edmondson (2000), p. 374.
  47. ^ Edmondson (2000), p. 407.
  48. ^ Groneman (1990), p. 119.
  49. ^ a b Todish et al. (1998), p. 55.
  50. ^ Hardin (1961), p. 155.
  51. ^ Nofi (1992), p. 136.
  52. ^ Thompson (2002), p. 102.
  53. ^ a b c Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 200.
  54. ^ a b Thompson (2002), p. 103.
  55. ^ a b Schoelwer (1985), p. 32.
  56. ^ a b c d Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 201.
  57. ^ a b Thompson (2002), p. 104.
  58. ^ a b Schoelwer (1985), p. 38.
  59. ^ March 23, 1861 issue, Harpers Weekly
  60. ^ a b Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 202.
  61. ^ Schoelwer (1985), p. 40.
  62. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 206.
  63. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 207.
  64. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 208.
  65. ^ a b c Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 209.
  66. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 210.
  67. ^ a b Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 211.
  68. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 198.
  69. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 197.
  70. ^ a b Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 212.
  71. ^ a b c Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 213.
  72. ^ a b Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 214.
  73. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 221.
  74. ^ Roberts and Olson (222).
  75. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 225.
  76. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), pp. 227, 229.
  77. ^ "Walter Eugene George, Jr. Collection: 1951-2007", Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas at Austin Libraries. Retrieved 2010-11-29.
  78. ^ Schoelwer (1985), p. 59.
  79. ^ Mason (1974), p. 71.
  80. ^ Mason (1974), p. 78.
  81. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 301.
  82. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), pp. 303–4.
  83. ^ a b c Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 304.
  84. ^ a b Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 307.
  85. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 308.
  86. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 309.
  87. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 310.
  88. ^ Thompson (2002), p. 108.
  89. ^ Thompson (2002), p. 121.
  90. ^ Korn, Marjorie (August 24, 2009), "Hutchison wants more state oversight over Alamo", Houston Chronicle: Section B, pp. 2–3, retrieved 2009-09-07 
  91. ^ Huddleston, Scott (September 1, 2011), "State Wants Alamo To Have Director", San Antonio Express News 
  92. ^ 86
  93. ^ Weber, Paul J (24 July 2009). "Alamo Rift Divides Group Over Revered Texas Site". ABC News. 
  94. ^ Huddleston, Scott (October 6, 2010), "DRT Ousts A Third Outspoken Member", San Antonio Express News 
  95. ^ Huddleston, Scott J (13 March 2011). "New Rules for Alamo Guardians". San Antonio Express News. 
  96. ^ Huddleston, Scott (March 24, 2011), "AG's Office Draws Line In The Sand For Alamo Caretakers", San Antonio Express News 
  97. ^ Huddleston, Scott J (18 May 2012). "Haven CFO to Lead Alamo". San Antonio Express News. 
  98. ^ Huddleston, Scott (March 4, 2011), "State Is Reassessing DRT's Role at Alamo", San Antonio Express News 
  99. ^ a b Huddleston, Scott (January 6, 2011), "Alamo Concert Now On Hold", San Antonio Express News 
  100. ^ Huddleston, Scott (November 18, 2011), "State, DRT agree on Alamo Trademark", San Antonio Express News 
  101. ^ Bacon Jr., Perry (August 13, 2011), "Rick Perry announces he will join 2012 presidential field to challenge President Obama", The Washington Post 
  102. ^ Huddleston, Scott (January 23, 2012), "Alamo Marketing Director Calls His Dismissal Wrongful", San Antonio Express News 
  103. ^ Huddleston, Scott (February 4, 2012), "Exposé to Blow Lid Off DRT Exploits", San Antonio Express News 
  104. ^ Huddleston, Scott (September 25, 2012), "Fired Spokesman Sues DRT Claiming Sexual Harassment", San Antonio Express News 
  105. ^ Huddleston, Scott (November 21, 2012), "DRT Blasted on Alamo", San Antonio Express News 
  106. ^ Huddleston, Scott (April 25, 2012), "DRT member Assumes New Alamo Post", San Antonio Express News 


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]