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Alamo Arcade: Portal to the Alamo Gardens

April 20, 2018

With various proposals for the new Alamo Master Plan in the news today, we look back to an earlier time when there were similar efforts to redesign the area around the Alamo.  The idea for a park adjacent to the Alamo chapel received serious attention when the Alamo Mission Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the San Antonio Conservation Society presented the idea to the mayor and city commissioners in 1925.  Among the leaders was Clara Driscoll Sevier, who had provided money to preserve the Alamo Long Barrack over 20 years earlier.  Mrs. Sevier, chairman of the Alamo Park Commission, again advanced considerable money toward purchase of the property immediately south of the Alamo for what would become part of the Alamo State Park, now called the Alamo Gardens.  The long process of bringing the park to fruition is chronicled in numerous articles in the San Antonio Express and San Antonio Light newspapers.

In 1931 the San Antonio Light published a rendering of the proposed park by Harland Bartholomew and Associates, a well-known urban planning firm in St. Louis.  Principal designer was H. E. Kincaid, who had been involved with the restoration of the Spanish Governor’s Palace the previous year.  The primary entrance to the park would be through the Alamo Arcade, similar to the arcaded structure in the palace patio.  But due to a lack of funds, the plans were not carried out for another three years.  In February 1934, under the direction H. E. Kincaid, employees of the Civil Works Administration (CWA) began clearing the site, but the work was halted a few weeks later when the government dropped CWA activities.  In May work resumed, again under the supervision of Kincaid, with labor provided by the Texas Relief Commission.  In January 1935 the project was complete, in time to showcase the site during the Texas Centennial celebration.

Photographs in our collections are among the earliest views of the Alamo Arcade.  They document the appearance of the structure that has witnessed numerous events that have occurred on the site for over 80 years.

 

Alamo Arcade, 1936. Photograph by Bartlett Cocke, Sr. (General Photograph Collection MS362: 76-0882)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Construction of the Alamo Arcade, with arches evocative of the conventos at Missions San Jose and Conception, September 1934. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: L-0342-E)

 

Weathered limestone, salvaged from buildings previously located on the site, is used for the arcade, September 1934. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: L-0342-D)

 

Plants, contributed by Texas residents, are planted in front of the arcade and in the Alamo garden, 1934. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: L-1547-H)

 

Frank Pena, stone mason, puts finishing touches on a fountain located a short distance east of the arcade, January 1935. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: L-460-A)

 

Alamo Arcade serves as a backdrop for a flagpole installation ceremony attended by Admiral Richard E. Byrd, February 1936. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: Detail of L-0915-A)

 

Patriotic bunting adorns the Alamo Arcade during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s visit to the Alamo during the Texas Centennial, June 11, 1936. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: Detail of L-0959-M)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2018 10:10 am

    Reblogged this on stillness of heart.

  2. April 24, 2018 5:30 am

    I’ve only visited The Alamo once, but would love to visit again. Thanks for the history surrounding it.

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