“You cannot learn
the history of the
Alamo by visiting
the church of the
Alamo today."

~ Adina de Zavala, 
Texas Preservationist

 

 

Reclaim rollover

 

State Custodianship

Governor Colquitt    By 1911, the fate of the historic building was still unresolved. It remained a very contentious and emotional issue. The newly elected governor, Oscar Colquitt, felt the problem had tarried far too long and needed to be settled once and for all. In late December, he convened a meeting at a hotel in San Antonio. Inviting all interested parties who may have information vital to his assessment to attend and state their case. Both Adina and Clara were there – as well as others – to explain their views and ideas on how to best interpret and present Texas history. The governor listened earnestly to both sides and toured the Alamo property. He thanked all the participants for their keen interest and information and returned to Austin to take their concerns under advisement. He meditated on the impasse for a few months, and in March of 1912 came to a decision to strip the DRT of their custodianship of the Alamo declaring the organization had done nothing in six years to improve the historic site. He then announced his own plan to restore the Long Barrack and Convento to its original appearance.

1    The process of rebuilding the old Convento and Long Barrack began almost immediately. The governor had the entire wood framework stripped away from the exterior of the building and left the two-story west and south walls intact. But the renovation project ran out of money before the job could be completed. Sensing an opportunity, Driscoll and her supporters in the DRT renewed their efforts to – at the very least – have the second floor of the structure demolished; maintaining their claim that – in spite of its historical significance – the old Convento was an eyesore, it dominated Alamo Plaza and overshadowed the church, which Driscoll insisted was the “real” Alamo. Governor Colquitt could not be swayed by the DRT entreaties. He remained committed to the restoration of the Long Barrack and refused to back down. However, in 1913, while Colquitt was away from Texas – purportedly on state business – Lieutenant Governor William Harding Mayes yielded to the Driscoll faction and allowed San Antonio officials to remove the upper-level walls from the Convento/Long Barrack structure. The first level of the west and south walls are all that remain of the original building.

1919 Alamo1921 Alamo    In the years that followed, Clara Driscoll and the DRT worked tirelessly to create an attractive environment to enhance the visitor experience to the Alamo church. They acquired adjoining properties; removed unsightly buildings that crowded or detracted from the “Shrine,” and developed the surrounding grounds into a park-like setting. Beautiful…yes, but it didn’t impress Adina de Zavala. “You cannot learn the history of the Alamo by visiting the church of the Alamo today," she warned.

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