Archaeologists who have been studying the Alamo and the Long Barrack for nearly a year as part of the $450 million 're-imagining' of Alamo Plaza say they have learned much about the construction of the two buildings, and have gained valuable insight into what level of repairs and reconstruction will be needed to keep the historic structures standing for another 300 years.
"We can trace now with relative accuracy the sequence of construction of the church in three dimensions, and, most importantly, this is the first time that both buildings have been studied in a comprehensive way," said John Mize, an architect with Ford Powell and Carson.
Identifying and repairing damage caused by a previous lack fo maintenance, vibrations from vehicles on nearby streets, and so called 'rising damp,' the infiltration of water into the limestone structures, is a key goal of the Alamo project.
Mize told the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee that his work has also uncovered many secrets about the Alamo, including a legendary archway inside the church.
"The remnants of a masonry arch was uncovered within the stone," he said. "We believe this is the remnants of what was known as the 'Door of the Dead."
Project leaders also revealed details about the plans for the coming year.
Several streets, including East Crockett from Alamo Plaza to Bonham, parts of Bonham Street, and Alamo Plaza Street will e closed to vehicular traffic early next year, but planners don't expect any impact on the 2020 Fiesta Parades, although some impacts could occur later in the project when Alamo and Houston Streets are set to be closed.
The City is also working to relocate the bandstand at Alamo Plaza, which will be displaced by the move of the Cenotaph some 500 yards south to in front of the Menger Hotel.
Engineer Tracy Marcotte of the restoration firm CVM, which has worked to restore George Washingotn's Mr. Vernon, discussed at length the restoration and moving of the Cenotaph, which is set to take place in 2020.
She says the plan is to illuminate the Cenotaph.
"We are developing a strategy for lighting the Cenotaph, which has never been done before, which will really create a beautiful beacon in the Plaza," she said.
She says a key goal of the Cenotaph restoration is to correct 'more than 35 inaccuracies' in the list of Alamo Defenders on the monument, including adding 10 known defenders who were not known at the time the Cenotaph was dedicated in 1940 and do not appear.
She said the Cenotaph will be cleaned, restored, and repaired on its current location in Alamo Plaza, in a process which will be shown to the public through a live video feed.
"The scientific process of conservation is a detailed, fascinating, and critical one, saving the Cenotaph is a process we went the public to be a part of," she said.
She says CVM feels that moving the Cenotaph is like 'moving over 170 pieces of significant artwork.'
The first phase of the Cenotaph restoration is set to be completed by the end of next year. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by 2024, the 300th anniversary of the construction of The Alamo.