"The Alamo
tells us much about
the flow of cultures,
people and the fate
of landmarks left
to the winds of
greed and
overpopulation.”

~ George Nelson,
artist,
archaeologist

 

 

Reclaim rollover

 

Commercial Development

    Over the course of the next several decades, the Alamo battlefield – as well as Alamo Plaza – was subjected to rapid commercial development. To make room for businesses, the remaining west wall structures were razed and the “Low Barrack” – 1882 Alamothe building that served as the mission’s main gate and Jim Bowie’s quarters – was demolished. By 1871, all that was left standing of the famous fort was the church, the remodeled remnants of the Long Barrack, and two-story Convento – about 30% of the original mission.

    One of the first to exploit the Alamo for profit was a Frenchman by the name of Honore Grenet, who in 1871 purchased the Long Barrack and Convento courtyard from the Catholic Church. Grenet, a merchant, built a wooden framework around the south and west side of the structure – complete with fake battlements and cannon towers. The silent stone rooms – where both Texan volunteers and Mexican soldados fought to the death – were now used for selling groceries andGrenet Alamo liquor. Grenet managed his store until 1884 when he sold it to the company of Hugo and Schmeltzer, who maintained the Long Barrack and Convento as a mercantile business. Throughout this period, the Alamo hardly resembled the once mighty edifice where acts of gallantry and sacrifice were acted out. One tourist to the area felt “amazement and disgust upon this my first visit to the old church fortress of the Alamo at finding the structure, so famous not only in the history of Texas but the annuals of liberty…filled with sacks of salt, stinking potatoes, odorous kerosene, and dirty groceries.” How can “the great state of Texas…permit a historic building like the Alamo, once consecrated to deity and latterly baptized in blood of heroes like Travis and Crockett, slain in the cause of liberty and democracy, to become a grocery warehouse?”

Click to return to the top of the page.