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Texas Historical Commission rejects permit to move the Alamo Cenotaph

Photo: KTSA/Don Morgan

UPDATE: City Councilman Roberto Treviño , one of the Tri-chairs of the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee is expressing disappointment after the Texas Historical Commission denied a permit for the relocation of the Cenotaph.

In a Facebook Post, Treviño said the denial of a permit to move the monument “puts the project in a state of limbo and the City must now review its legal strategy and its fiduciary responsibility in order to determine its course of action.”

He expressed his appreciation to members of the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee, the Alamo Management Committee, the General Land Office and City staff who have worked on the Alamo redevelopment plan over the past six years.

Treviño says it’s been “a labor of love” and the work “to preserve and protect the Alamo will not cease. The adopted Vision and Guiding Principles will continue to be the driving force of this project as other options are considered.”

 

Here’s Treviño’s Facebook Post:

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – The Texas Historical Commission has rejected a permit that would have allowed the restoration and relocation of the Alamo Cenotaph.

The $450 million Alamo master plan called for the monument to the defenders of the Shrine of Texas Liberty to be moved about 500 feet south near the Menger Hotel, but many who addressed the Commission Tuesday said “not one inch.”

San Antonio City Councilman Roberto Treviño said moving the Cenotaph, which dates back to 1936, would help tell the complete story of the Alamo and its history as a mission.

He said it’s important to recognize all cultures that have contributed to the Alamo experience and to honor all who lived and died there.

“This transformational project is an effort to conserve the Alamo and preserve it for future generations by fully exploring the history of the place,” said Treviño.  “The Cenotaph plays a supporting role in that history, but it’s not the focus of the project.”

Ron Miller agrees.

“Currently, the position of the Cenotaph detracts from the importance of the historic site.  It eclipses the iconic church,” Miller told the Texas Historical Commission Tuesday. “Moving the Cenotaph will allow the Alamo to create a better visitor experience, as well as being able to better explain the layout and the use of the site during its 300 years of existence.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick urged the Commission to deny the permit.   He says when visitors come to the Alamo they want to see where the battle took place.  They want to know where Davy Crockett and William Barrett Travis were.

“This is the Alamo.  This will be the most important vote you will ever cast on this Commission, so I want you to think seriously before you cast that vote today,” said Patrick.

Former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson also opposed moving the monument from its current location.

“When councilman Treviño, chair of the Alamo Management Committee, says that the Cenotaph must be moved to create a period-neutral plaza, it indicates to me that there’s an idea that we should deemphasize the events of 1836,” said Patterson.

Carolyn Raney, President of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, urged the Commission to approve the relocation of the 60-foot monument.

“It is time for the state of Texas to complete the restoration of the entire Alamo footprint.  Please act,” said Raney. ” And please remember–you can take the Daughters out of the Alamo, but you’ll never take the Alamo out of the Daughters.”

That was an obvious reference to the removal several years ago of the Daughters as caretakers of the Shrine of Texas Liberty.

Charisma Villarreal, a descendant of Alamo defender Gregorio Esparza, spoke against the relocation of the monument.

“When I read words in a THC agenda like relocating the cenotaph outside the historic footprint, that really bothers me,” said Villarreal. “The Cenotaph itself is historical.  I understand that it needs repairs, but HKS, the architect firm has plainly stated that it can be repaired on site.

Assistant City Manager Lori Houston explained that the foundation of the monument would have to be demolished and a new one would be built.   She said the vibrations could damage the Alamo Long Barrack.

Several representatives of tourism groups, downtown hotels and chambers of commerce spoke in favor of relocating the Cenotaph.

“It’s vital that we protect the Alamo site by recapturing that historic footprint as much as possible,” said Casandra Matej, President and CEO of Visit San Antonio.

The THC heard hours of comments from the public during the meeting via Zoom, but there were thousands who chose to register their opinions online.   More than 29,000 were opposed to moving the Cenotaph from its current location, while 1,625 were in favor of the move.

The Antiquities Advisory Board approved the request for a permit and moved the recommendation forward to the THC where it failed in a 12-2 vote with one abstention.  Wallace Jefferson and Earl Broussard were the only two commissioners who voted to move the monument.

Lilia Maria Garcia warned that they would be going down a slippery slope if they moved a statue because of its location or because it doesn’t fit with the reimagining or retelling of the Alamo story.   She said “history has happened around the Alamo” and the Cenotaph is part of that history.

Chairman John Nau said monuments to the fallen should be placed where “the blood flowed.”   He said he had a difficult time with the relocation because it would have put the  Cenotaph outside the battle walls and the monument known as “The Spirit of Sacrifice” should be “where those men fought and died.”

He commended the Daughters of the Republic of Texas for saving the Alamo from the wrecking ball.  Nau said the redevelopment of the Alamo should include the history of women’s groups who worked to save it.

The meeting started at 9 a.m. and ended just before 7 pm.

“We’ve all had a long day and a very emotional one,” said Nau. “I’m going to get a cold beer.”

Nau is Chairman and CEO of Silver Eagle Distributors, one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributors in the nation.

 

 

 


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