Is there a Chance for the Alamo to be Restored? Cast Your Vote Now!

The Alamo, as it existed in 1836. (Photo: Mark Lemon/FineArtAmerica)

While I hardly blog about it, or even talk about it now, there was a time when my love of Texas history and the Alamo equaled my love of the American Civil War. I grew up in a household that loved old movies, mainly westerns, so I was quite young when I saw Disney’s Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier, and just a tad older when I caught John Wayne’s The Alamo. While both were far from historically accurate, they cemented within me an interest for a small war that occurred more than a thousand miles away from my home on the shores of New Jersey. When I was 13, a second major Alamo film came out, in 2004, starring Billy Bob Thornton. It was an amazing moment for me, getting a chance to see this film in theaters, and one that was more accurate as well. In the months prior, I had joined an online Alamo message board devoted to the film, where I met a lot of great people, who I am still in contact with a decade later. My interest then reached its peak when I was 16, and my parents took me on a vacation to Texas, to finally visit the Alamo. I remember my eyes tearing up upon seeing it for the first time, and being in awe about actually being able to walk on the same ground as heroes such as David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Travis. It was one of the most incredible moments of my life, and we would spend about a week there. However, I was also in awe about something else—the fact that all that remains from the once-sprawling two acre compound (or Catholic mission turned fortress) was the famous Alamo chapel facade and a small portion of barracks on the left side. I had known what the place looked like before arriving, but it certainly was disheartening to finally see, in person, how the history had been destroyed over the years. I merely shrugged my shoulders in a “Well, that’s that” expression and continued on exploring.

Thanks to being in contact with people such as author Ned Huthmacher and “Wayneamo” historian Rich Currilla, they told me about all the great places to check out, like restaurants and attractions—the non-tourist kind. I eventually met Rich at the set of John Wayne’s 1960 film, which still exists, in Bracketville, more than an hour away. This place, which unfortunately is now closed to the public, is an identical replica of what the Alamo looked like in 1836, with the barracks and surrounding walls. That was what the Alamo in San Antonio should look like, I thought to myself (and so did every other Alamo buff). Visiting other missions in the nearby area (San Jose, San Juan, Concepcion, and Espada) gave me a greater appreciation for Texas and Mexican history, and even more disappointment that the Alamo did not look the same way: untouched.

I never imagined that a time would ever come where there was a serious movement to try to transform the modern Alamo (which is surrounded by stores, buildings, and the city of San Antonio, not to mention a major street that runs right through what would have been the courtyard). I did not think it would be practical, or economically feasible, to see those eye-sore tourist traps taken down and replaced with replica walls. The Alamo was a battlefield where more than a thousand casualties occurred, between both sides, in one of the most legendary last-stands in history. It was, and still is, perplexing, that it does not receive the same treatment as a place like Gettysburg. But wasn’t it too far gone? Restoration and preservation efforts for Gettysburg and other battlefields began immediately after. No such actions occurred at the Alamo until many decades later, after the extensive surrounding walls had already been torn down. Wasn’t it too late?

Not according to historians like Gary Foreman, who have pushed for a restoration effort to take place, to “bring back” the Alamo. The plan has existed for years, but only recently has it actually become realistic. This is not something that can be done overnight, because of how modern the area is, and people cannot just be forced from their places of business. A logistical nightmare exists, but it is not in the realm of fantasy anymore, and could be something concrete before we know it. The mayor of San Antonio is even forming a study group to figure out a better way to present Alamo plaza. Even if an entire compound cannot be replicated, surely something along the lines of a solemn park can form up in the immediate area, as to not have cars and uncaring tourists driving and trampling on what is considered sacred soil. With the Alamo being located smack-dab in the middle of a city, it is hard for anyone aside from history buffs to have any inclination whatsoever as to what the place once looked like.

This afternoon, I reached out to Foreman on Facebook, about this article and ensuing situation, “Now is the time for the city of San Antonio to really know how important the history of Alamo Plaza (and it’s historic footprint) means to all Texans and Americans. Since the battle, the city has sadly diminished the physical presence of the original Alamo compound. It’s time to reverse that trend.” We can all do our part to help Gary and his mission by visiting this website and taking a vote in the poll for the option that states, “Restore the Alamo battle compound as it appeared in 1836, which would mean moving buildings and closing the plaza to traffic.” I have already cast my vote, and encourage (and beg) others to do the same. We have a chance here, to chance history—a chance to say “no” to modernization and commercialization and preserve something that more than deserves it.

What do YOU think about the situation? Please leave your thoughts in the comment area below.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Brian Sullivan says:

    It would be awesome to see this happen, but having been there a few times it would seem almost impossible. But I’ll vote for it!

    1. George wyman says:

      It’s a dream that can happen and should happen the alamo is not just the church it’s the whole compound those stores across the street have no meaning at all to this place if it’s brought back as it was in 1836 people will finally get a feel on how it look and how people there defend it and die

  2. Mike Boldt says:

    The Alamo NEEDS to be restored as close as possible to the original compound NOW. This project is LONG OVERDUE. It has my vote.

  3. George wyman says:

    Rebuild it get rid of all those stupid stores the plaza is where too many died!

  4. George wyman says:

    Good news the alamo might get rebuilt funds have been given and those stores across the street are getting bought if it gets done more people will go to see the alamo as it was and as it should be one of the most important shrines in America and the the no 1 in Texas you will get three to four times more people now that what to see how it really looked I went to see where the alamo was made when I was a little boy and I was so glad to see whay it was like that was after we went to the real alamo and I was so sad but a man told my parents about where john Wayne’s movie was made so they took me there we spent several hours there now at the real one the average time there is about 8 minutes just think of the money the city and state will make if people will stay there for a hour it’s way over do and it’s time to give those who died there some respect that’s their resting place and not disneyland

  5. George wyman says:

    Texas needs to make the alamo as it was in 1836 everyone wins and the alamo defenders will be forvever remember and not walked on everyday and have a carnival side show next to this piece of history

  6. RICK REEDER says:

    It should have been done year’s ago ! I have seen the plans for the proposed restoration and it is well thought out . However , they are going to put in a fountain in the middle of the plaza ….. Why ? I have alway’s wished that the Alamo Plaza looked pretty much how it did back when . Please consider the possibility of putting it back close to original . Please don’t put a fountain there ! Give it the dignity it deserves and try and get it close to how it was . I have alway’s wanted to stand in front of the chapel looking out towards the west wall and have a sense that I was experiencing what the defenders saw or close to it . It always seemed like an impossible dream that those stores would be brought down and that the west wall would be reconstructed ! Unbelievable ! And I could never understand why there wasn’t at least one cannon on it’s carriage to help form some link to the battle . So here is this golden opportunity to restore the Alamo compound to what it should be . History is such an important part of what we are . Let the people that come to The Alamo experience a true representation of what The Alamo was like when those men gave their lives on both sides , fighting for what they believed was right . The battle of The Alamo is known around the world . It is one of the most famous of battles . Please do it justice . Keep it simple and true .

  7. George wyman says:

    I agree I watch the live cam sometimes and see people riding bikes skateboards and they don’t know is where they are walking and riding is where hundreds of men were killed the plaza was inside and there was lots of fighting going on it needs to be rebuilt as close as possible the average person stays about 8minutes if it comes back like it look in 1836 most people would stay there hours .i know I would


    I agree 100%, The Alamo needs to be restored to the original compound. Too many Texians died for Texas to become a state, and to think the thanks they get for it is demolition of all walls for businesses and a road, only to perserve the south part of the compound which only includes the mission, and a row of barracks with a courtyard behind it all. Seems pretty sellfish of the city of San Antonio if you ask me…

  9. George wyman says:

    Stop playing around and start doing it!the funds are there

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