Just when you thought the $400 million Alamo Plaza renovation was good to go, the San Antonio Conservation Society today will unveil an alternative proposal which it says will display more of San Antonio's history, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The Conservation Society's plan will expand Alamo Plaza to include the Woolworth and Crockett Buildings, which are across Alamo Street from the Plaza, and preserving a 'visible link to San Antonio's civil rights history.'
The first peaceful and voluntary desegregation of a public facility in the old Confederacy happened at the lunch counter of the Woolworth Building in March of 1960, when African American and Anglo diners sat down peacefully to eat lunch. The concept of desegregation was picked up by courageous local pastors like Buckner Fanning of Trinity Baptist Church, and soon many, but not all, downtown stores and restaurants were desegregated, without the violence and continuing hatred seen in other Southern cities.
"The proposal incorporates the best of the old with the new to tell the full story of Alamo Plaza," The Conservation Society said. "It shows how it is possible to reveal and interpret the western wall of the Alamo footprint, while preserving century-old buildings and an important site in the American civil rights movement."
The Woolworth and Crockett Buildings were purchased by the General Land Office in 2017. The current plan calls for them to either be demolished to make way for a new Alamo Plaza museum, or the buildings themselves turned into the museum, depending on the structural soundness of the 19th Century structures.
The Conservation Society plan calls for preserving the buildings, improving them if necessary, to allow the story of integration to be told along with the story of the Battle of the Alamo, the Spanish presence in Texas, and other historic events which happened at the Plaza.
The current plan calls for Alamo Street and Houston Street north of the Alamo to be closed to traffic and the Plaza enlarged to better demonstrate the footprint of the Plaza when it was the scene of the 1836 battle. The Cenotaph is to be moved 500 feet south to in front of the Menger Hotel, also a controversial step, and the Plaza will be demarcated by a railing.
Construction is set to begin in 2020, with the renovated Plaza open by 2024, which is the 300th anniversary of the building of Mission San Juan de Valero at its current location.