"The room(s) have
since been demolished,
together with the walls
which Travis defended,
and the barracks all
are gone. The vandal
hand of progress has
done its work...
while the truck-cart
of traffic rumbles
over the identical
ground that drank in
the life-blood of
those devoted men.”

~ John Sutherland, 
Alamo Courier, 1860 

 

 

Reclaim rollover

 

The Second Battle

    The victory achieved by the DRT was believed to have secured the remaining historic structures. Instead it initiated what was to be called the “second battle of the Alamo.” A conflict erupted between Adina de Zavala and Clara Driscoll over the issue – and future – of the Long Barrack and two-story Convento. Driscoll envisioned the Alamo Church as a stand-alone shrine, free and clear of unattractive distractions and advocated the removal of the very building she fought to save. “This building should be torn away at the earliest possible moment. The daughters are not in favor of keeping anything ugly on this ground and are always in favor of things beautiful.” 1908 AlamoAdina, on the other hand, believed the remnants of the Long Barrack and Convento were historically significant and should be restored – not razed. “The proposition to demolish the Hugo & Schmeltzer building cannot be considered,” she maintained. After all, she correctly pointed out, much of the horrific fighting and dying occurred in the very rooms of the Convento and Long Barrack while the Alamo Church Long Barrack reconstructionsaw limited carnage. The bitter infighting that ensued caused the DRT to split into two competing factions with De Zavala on one side and Driscoll on the other.

    In February 1908, as the two paragons of Texas antiquities squared off for control of the DRT and the Alamo, state and city politicians as well as local business leaders became embroiled in the fray and sided with Driscoll. In an act of desperation, Adina barricaded herself in the Long Barrack for three days, claiming that Clara Driscoll was “pandering to the rabid desires of the money-getters, who for business reasons only, want to tear down unsightly walls.” In a 1935 interview with Pearl Howard for Holland's magazine, Adina related her experience:

    "I had been told, on good authority, that a syndicate which had an option on the property back of the Alamo intended to seize the Alamo and tear it down, so as to use the space as part of the plaza, a sort of front yard to the hotel or amusement palace which they expected to erect on the property back of the Alamo – on which also they had an option.”

    "My lawyers on whom I depended were out of the city; but I had heard that 'possession is nine points in the law.' Something had to be done, and quickly. So I took possession, and engaged three men to guard the old mission-fortress night and day.”

    "At dusk, just as I was giving them some last instructions, the raid was made. The agents of the syndicate threw my men out bodily, expecting to take possession. They did not know I was in an inner room, and when I hurried out to confront them, demanding by what right they invaded the historic building, consternation reigned. They withdrew outside the building for whispered consultation. The instant they stepped out, I closed the doors and barred them. That's all. There was nothing else for me to do but hold the fort. So I did."

High Contrast Alamo

    De Zavala was successful in garnering public support for her cause, but in the end the courts legitimized the Driscoll faction – The Alamo Mission Chapter – of the DRT as the rightful custodians of the Alamo. Shortly afterwards, the DRT banished Adina and her supporters from the organization. The decision was condemned as “shameful… against a poor woman who had worked so hard to save all that was a memento of sincere, true patriotism.” In spite of the court’s decision, the bickering and the struggle for the ultimate vision of the Alamo would continue in the ensuing years.

 

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