AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas is taking over management of the Alamo, ending the Daughters of the Texas Republic’s 110-year management of the site, according to a joint statement issued Thursday.
In the statement, Land Commissioner George P. Bush said the General Land Office was taking over the day-to-day management of the downtown San Antonio mission-turned-fortress. The management of the Alamo will transition to office over the next four months.
During that time, the office will solicit proposals for the development of a strategic plan for the Alamo grounds and search the nation for a new management company.
The Alamo was the site of a key battle in the Texas Revolution in which some 180 defenders were killed there during a siege by Mexican forces. Weeks later, those deaths provided Texas irregulars with their rallying cry that they carried to victory over Mexican forces at the Battle of San Jacinto, which clinched Texas’ independence from Mexico.
“The Alamo has always had the same owner — the people of Texas. And so to meet the ever-increasing operational needs of the Alamo, the GLO has determined to change its day-to-day management from the DRT and move in a new direction. Together, we will create a bigger, brighter future for this Texas shrine,” the Bush statement said.
The General Land Office took ownership of the Alamo in 2011 at the behest of the Legislature, which had grown concerned about the care of the iconic Texas landmark. Worries arose following accusations of mismanagement and financial incompetence levied at the nonprofit Daughters.
The next year, the General Land Office told the group’s Alamo Mission Chapter to vacate the Alamo grounds, that the group “could no longer store private belongings on state property, or continue to enjoy free, exclusive, long-term use of state property for private chapter business.”
During his campaign last year for land commissioner, the Republican Bush had expressed a desire to reach out to the Daughters for greater involvement in the Alamo’s affairs. Nevertheless, his decision to cancel the group’s management of the attraction was not a complete surprise to McCaffrey.
“That’s politics,” she said.
Alamo Director Becky Dinnin praised the Daughters for taking care of the Alamo, noting the group intervened in 1905 and “kept it from being torn down.” But she said that “over the past few years, the needs of the Alamo have really grown significantly, especially in the area of conservation and the need to be able to fundraise.”
The Daughters remain concerned, however, about the potential commercialization of the Alamo and its surrounding grounds. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to turn it into” a tourist trap, said McCaffrey, whose group has always maintained the Alamo as a shrine demanding reverence from visitors.
But fundraising for Alamo projects has been among the biggest challenges the Daughters faced in recent years.
For the Daughters, the parting is bittersweet but will not do away with the group’s mission, President General Ellen McCaffrey said.
“It frees up our time, money and resources for other projects,” she said, citing specifically the former French Legation to the Republic of Texas in Austin and the Republic museum to be developed next door.
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