For years people have complained that The Alamo in San Antonio is unimpressive. This leads one to wonder what people expect when they visit a 300 year old cannon-riddled stone hut. Perhaps they were expecting a cowboy twist on The Colussium? A Texan Taj Mahal? Herds of wild buffalo thundering majestically across a rugged cactus-speckled plane? I mean, really.
For people who have little to no interest in Texas heritage, history, or archaeology, The Alamo is bound to be a disappointment. There are no amusement rides, funnel cakes, or Native Americans in cliche garb roasting marshmallows over an open campfire. The only cowboys are your fellow tourists who happen to don boots or hats. There isn’t even a splash pad.
There are however guided tours (which I highly recommend), regular exhibitions, artifact collections, a gift shop, and it’s open for free on a daily basis.
But, since history and archaeology is apparently surprisingly boring to people who don’t like it, some are contemplating renovations to the revered Texas monument. Doubtless, maintenance of the structure and grounds is essential. Additional educational programs and resources are always exciting (if you’re into learning that is).
The question is, do we need a glass wall?
You see, the Alamo Master Plan Committee recently released renderings of proposed renovations for the Alamo.
According to The Houston Chronicle, plans include, “creating a large plaza where the street is today, connecting the monument to the museum and restoring the acequia, a Spanish colonial irrigation canal, that ran through the mission. [The plan] also proposes enclosing the plaza with a glass wall that approximates the location and height of the mission’s long-ago demolished stone wall.”
You can view the master plans here.
Naturally, some archaeologists are freaking out.
Personally, I found my visit to The Alamo extremely entertaining, and I didn’t have any difficulty imagining the structure as it was in its prime. A glass wall could be a beautiful addition to the monument. Or, it could also introduce a modern-looking structure into an ancient looking place, thus damaging the historic ambiance.
Perhaps a series of artistic pillars that resemble The Alamo’s original stone could be used to represent the original stone wall which Santa Ana demolished so long ago? And perhaps visitors should read the story of The Alamo before visiting so they aren’t expecting a breathtaking Cathedral? It’s a flipping battle ground. As far as experiential chills go, it’s right up there with Shiloh; the story is what’s profound, not the architecture by itself. Unless you understand the background, you’re not going to feel the impressive value of the place.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for preserving, magnifying, and improving our Texas historic monuments. The idea of a glass wall doesn’t particularly bother me. If they do it right, I’m sure it will be gorgeous. In fact, I’m really excited that there’s such strong interest in beautifying the site. However, this “Wow, The Alamo was boring,” attitude gets on my nerves.
As they say, “If you don’t enjoy history, don’t visit a historical monument.”
They do say that … right?
I think that’s a thing.
My point is, those folks who don’t enjoy The Alamo now, likely won’t enjoy it once it’s got a glass wall either. They’re just not history or Texas heritage buffs like us. If you want to impress them, you’ll likely have to install a taco stand and host beer tastings at 3 PM. Not that tacos and beer aren’t awesome ideas. In fact, get on that. But what I’m saying is, if they don’t dig history now, they’re just not the audience The Alamo Master Plan Committee should be catering too. Forget them. Focus on the folks who already love The Alamo and cherish the bravery and sacrifice it represents.
To read an article by someone who thinks The Alamo is “forgettable,” check out The Houston Chronicle.