Guarding the Guardians

Reporter Scott Huddleston of the San Antonio Express-News dropped this gem near the end of his story about the Daughters of the Republic of Texas efforts to trademark “The Alamo:”

Along with the “Allies” campaign, which raises money for Alamo preservation, operations and educational programs, the DRT hopes to collect funds for a new library building on the grounds that eventually could stand seven stories high.

Seven stories high?  And I have been blogging over a banner blocking the entrance to the grounds and the pop-up on the plaza?

Surely San Antonio’s viewshed ordinance protects us from these guardians in need of guarding: 

The purpose of a Viewshed Protection district is to establish regulations to protect, preserve, and enhance views and vistas. The City of San Antonio has many views and vistas of historic places, landmark buildings, and other sites of cultural importance which have always been important to the city.  These views will continue to be amenities and assets of great value to the city, its people, and its economy. 

New development in the vicinity of these important places is usually beneficial, but when construction becomes too tall and begins to overwhelm or intrude, in scale and mass, the main view or vista of a smaller place of significance, then the viewshed located behind the significant property should be protected. 

Viewshed Protection districts are overlay districts that will be used primarily for unique situations regarding views and vistas that are not adequately covered by the standard zoning districts.  No part of a new structure, sign, tower, roof top equipment, or other appurtenance shall be permitted to encroach into any designated viewshed as set forth in this ordinance unless an encroachment was approved legally before the effective date of the Viewshed Protection ordinance.  If the maximum height allowed in any zoning district within the city differs from the height permitted by a protection district, the more restrictive height limitation shall apply.

San Antonio currently has one (1) Viewshed Protection district: Alamo Viewshed (VP-1).  This Viewshed Protection district lies behind the main entrance to the front door of the Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo), a local Exceptional Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.  A brass disc monument named VP-1, Alamo Viewshed, has been set to mark the viewpoint origination in Alamo Plaza in front of the Alamo Chapel….
(see Ch. 35-337 of the Unified Development Code for full boundary description).

If not, fix it quickly.

May 13 Update“Another Battle Brews at The Alamo”

June 1 Update:  The Texas Historical Commission’s response to DRT’s plans:  page 1, page 2 and page 3

October 28 Update:  The Daughters of the Republic of Texas are only $40 million away from building a three-story addition to the Alamo grounds….

3 thoughts on “Guarding the Guardians”

  1. In fairness, the Daughters have done a decent job of recasting the Alamo story to be more inclusive and have more historical context.

    But in recent years, they seem to see it more as their personal playhouse rather than an icon of Texas. Their treatment of the Alamo view is just one more example.


  2. In the 1979 Master Plan, Carolyn Peterson of Ford Powell Carson said “A policy should be adopted that limits the height of any subsequent structures on the site to one story except the Long Barrack. This will eliminate future conflicts with the Historic Buildings.”

    In the 2010 Master Plan, Carolyn Peterson of Ford Powell Carson includes a 3 story building with a potential of 7 floors. The elevations are on my website. Also included are the meeting notes by the Texas Historical Commission. Peterson has disregarded the wishes of the Texas Historical Commission, since her Disneyland first appeared in 2006, which even included a huge auditorium. I have all of the documentation back to the first Master Plan in 1979, and am amazed at the continued neglect. As a member of the DRT, I support the Daughters in their statewide mission, but they should be replaced by the National Park Service as custodians of the Alamo.


    1. United under the auspices of the San Antonio Missions National Park? It’s a shame the miraculous fundraising capabilities of Father David couldn’t be thrown in as part of the deal. Cracked ceilings would soon disappear.


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