Texas in the Teens through E.C. Blomeyer’s Lens

E.C. Blomeyer and camera, Cameron Park, Waco, TX.

E.C. Blomeyer and camera, Cameron Park, Waco, TX, circa 1917. Edward C. Blomeyer photographic collection, 1906-1923, number 001.

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

Edward Charles “E.C.” Blomeyer’s time in Texas was brief but well-documented. From telephone poles to animals, floods to parades, and much more, the amateur shutterbug committed many views of early 1900s Texas to film—and we reap the benefit today with the Edward C. Blomeyer photographic collection.

Born in Missouri in 1882, Blomeyer moved in 1912 with his family to Waco, Texas, to work as auditor for the Brazos Valley Telegraph and Telephone Company. He came with knowledge of the telephone industry gained while working for the Southeast Missouri Telephone Company in Charleston, Missouri, where he served as rate collector and in management. He would spend only eight years in Texas, but his knowledge and experience quickly helped to improve a rural, and in some areas quite primitive, telecommunications network.

Early Telephone Poles and Lines, Central Texas (4)

A primitively constructed rural telephone pole serving as a junction point for several lines in Central Texas. Edward C. Blomeyer photographic collection, 1906-1923, number 497-1.

In 1914, Blomeyer began working for the Texas Telephone Company after it expanded to include many independent companies in Lorena, Mart, McGregor, Moody, Waco, West, and the Brazos Valley Telegraph and Telephone Company. This expansion of the Texas Telephone Company gave Blomeyer many opportunities for improving the existing telecommunications infrastructure. He first served as secretary-treasurer of the Waco-based Texas Telephone Company and worked his way up to be president by 1918.

But Blomeyer wasn’t just a career man—he was a photographer as well, capturing many images of Waco. He recorded many scenes of this booming city including trains, airplanes, bridges, rivers, animals, military, the cotton industry, and significant events. His professional interests overlapped with his hobby, providing a rare look into the early telecommunications network in and around McLennan County. These scenes include many early telephone poles—some of which are just sticks with wire attached to barbed wire fence posts! Additionally, Blomeyer documented his travels, with destinations ranging from Galveston, Texas, to Niagara Falls.

Texas Governor, Jim Ferguson, Texas Cotton Palace Parade, c. 1915 (2)

Texas Governor Jim Ferguson is seen here riding in the Texas Cotton Palace parade as his wagon makes its way on Austin Avenue, Waco. Edward C. Blomeyer photographic collection, number 504-1.

In 1920, Waco lost one of its pioneering men in the telecommunications industry. Blomeyer went to work for the Automatic Electric Company, based in Chicago. He stayed with the company as it changed ownership throughout the years, eventually merging with what would become GTE (General Telephone & Electronics). Blomeyer retired from the telephone industry in 1956, having worked his way up to the position of Vice-President of GTE. After retirement, he spent some of his remaining years in Palm Beach, Florida, where he died in 1964.

When The Texas Collection acquired Blomeyer’s photographic collection in 2012, consisting of approximately 1,500 photographic negatives and prints, they were neatly filed in a tattered old box. Its original owner or photographer was not known—the seller from whom we purchased it thought the creator was Fred Gildersleeve, a noted Waco photographer. However, Gildersleeve was just the person who developed several of the printed photographs. But we needed more information to tell properly the story behind these photos and the person who took them.

The Texas Cotton Palace, Main Building, Waco, TX, c. 1915

The Texas Cotton Palace, Main Building, Waco, TX, circa 1915. Edward C. Blomeyer photographic collection, 1906-1923, number 689-1.

The first big lead in our case was a small business card sandwiched between a group of negatives. It read: “E.C. [Edward Charles] Blomeyer, Waco, Texas, President of the Texas Telephone Co.” The subjects in the pictures helped confirm Blomeyer as the photographer and creator of the collection. Now that there was a name to link this collection to, we turned to the Internet. Blomeyer turns out to have been a prolific writer of articles on the telephone industry and its management, photography, and various hobbies, we learned from several digitized magazines.

The items in the collection date from 1906 to about 1923. Although he was not a professional photographer, his high-quality work provides a great history of the Central Texas community. Blomeyer was an interesting person to research. He left many traces about what he did professionally through his writings and about many aspects of his personal and family life through his photography.

This post shows just a small sampling of Blomeyer’s work—look for our upcoming series on Blomeyer’s photography, Texas in the Teens. We’ll travel with Blomeyer all over Texas (and maybe outside the state, too), and take a look at transportation, animals, and more.

Check out our Flickr set below for your first view of Blomeyer’s work. You can see more images in the finding aid in BARD—just do a search for Blomeyer, then enjoy!

Sources:

“Biographical and Personal Notes.” “Telephony: American Telephone Journal” 79, no. 4 ( July 24, 1920): 32-34. Accessed December 11, 2014.

Blomeyer, Edward Charles. “Still Now Heads Texas Association.” “Telephony: American Telephone Journal” 79, no. 4 (July 24, 1920): 14-15. Accessed December 11, 2014

“Texas Telephone Co., Waco, Texas.” “Standard Corporation Service, Daily Revised” (May 1-December 31, 1914): 260. Accessed December 11, 2014.

Wright, Todd. “Mrs. Blomeyer to be Honored at Dedication of PBAC Library.” Palm Beach Post (Palm Beach, FL), Feb. 27, 1969.

Posted in cellulose nitrate negative, E.C. Blomeyer, photographic negatives, Photographs, Texas Cotton Palace, Texas Telephone Company, Waco | 1 Comment

Texas over Time: ALICO building, Waco

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph collection. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

ALICO construction GIFConstruction photos by Gildersleeve, 1911; modern photo (photographer unknown), 1984

  • The ALICO, now a Waco landmark, was started in 1910 and completed in 1911, by the architecture firm Sanguinet and Staats, with the help of famous architect Roy Ellsworth Lane.
  • The parcel of land that the building currently sits on at the intersection of 5th and Austin Ave was home to several things before the ALICO came along. The first recorded use of the land was a small pond that served as a buffalo watering hole and fishing spot. Around the time of the Civil War, the pond had dried up, and a blacksmith shop was built by W.E. Oakes. The site was eventually home to a bank, which was present until being torn down to build the ALICO.
  • At 22 stories, the building was so large that people as far away as McGregor could see its construction with binoculars. It even made it into a Ripley’s Believe it or Not comic in the 1930s. At the time of its construction, it was the first skyscraper in Texas, making it the tallest building in Texas. It held this title until the construction of the Magnolia in Dallas in 1922.

Austin Avenue--before and after ALICOAustin Avenue, before (early 1900s) and after (1910s) the ALICO

  • The ALICO was originally the home of and contracted by the Amicable Life Insurance Company, as well as being the home of several prominent lawyers, organizations, and various other businesses such as the Corner Drug Store (creators of Dr Pepper).
  • The building weighs approximately 40 million pounds and required 2,004 freight cars worth of material to construct. The ALICO survived a direct hit by the 1953 tornado due to the wind resistant designs of Roy Lane, even though the RT Dennis building across the street was completely demolished.

Sources:

“The New Amicable Life Building.” Waco Tribune Herald 12 Sep. 1954. Print.

Ryan, Terri Jo, and Randy Fiedler. “The Story of the ALICO Building: 100 Years, 22 Stories and 1 Towering Ego.” Waco Tribune-Herald 28 Apr. 2011. Web. 21 Aug. 2014.

See all of these images (plus a couple bonus ones you won’t want to miss!) on Flickr. GIFs and factoids by Braxton Ray, archives student assistant

Posted in Amicable Alico Building, architecture, Austin Avenue, Fred Gildersleeve, Historic Waco, Roy Ellsworth Lane, Texas over Time, Waco | Leave a comment

Armstrong’s Stars: Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg letter to A.J. Armstrong

Letter from Carl Sandburg to A.J. Armstrong, dated 11 May 1921 (Armstrong Browning Library)

“Armstrong’s Stars” is a collaboration between the Armstrong Browning Library and Baylor’s Texas Collection. Once a month we feature a story about a celebrity that Dr. A.J. Armstrong brought to Baylor. These stories highlight an interesting part of Baylor’s history and include collection materials housed in both the Armstrong Browning Library and the Texas Collection.

This month’s story was contributed by PhD candidate Jeremy Land. 

Sandburg sketch

A sketch of Carl Sandburg’s 1925 reading by Baylor undergraduate Henry Cecil Spencer, class of 1929 (Carroll Science Building)

In 1920 Baylor University celebrated its Diamond Jubilee with help from the English department’s Dr. A.J. Armstrong. The university used the occasion to invite some of the most important names in American letters to speak at Baylor. A year later Baylor was developing a reputation as a place where not only poets were welcomed, but a place where they could find a receptive student body.

One of the first and most important writers to travel to Baylor was the noted poet, journalist, historian, and folk musician Carl Sandburg. By the time Dr. Armstrong persuaded Sandburg to visit and read his work at Baylor in the spring of 1921, the poet had already won the first of his eventual three Pulitzer prizes—Sandburg won the Pulitzer Prize for his books Cornhuskers (1918), Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1939), and Complete Poems (1951). In the early 1920s Sandburg was building a reputation as a first rate poet of the American people. His early poetry drew inspiration from his time as a hobo traveling across the west, his years working as a journalist in Chicago, and the lives of ordinary Americans. His first major volume Chicago Poems established him as an innovative and powerful new voice in American poetry. It was this reputation that prompted Baylor’s student newspaper The Daily Lariat to describe Sandburg as a “man’s poet” as early as 1925, and perhaps attracted so many young Baylor Bears to Sandburg’s readings (“Carl Sandburg, Noted Poet, Coming Here for Reading on April 3” 1).

Tickets to Sandburg reading at Baylor, 1952

Tickets to Carl Sandburg’s March 10, 1952 reading at Waco Hall (Armstrong Browning Library)

The poet apparently enjoyed his time at Baylor and made great efforts to ingratiate himself to the students while he was here. He even went so far as to visit a sick Baylor undergraduate in the hospital and give him a private recitation of his work when he discovered that the young fan could not make his reading.  Ultimately, Sandburg was so impressed with the Baylor students he met that he cited them to his fellow poet and friend Robert Frost as a reason to journey to Texas (Douglas 129-135).

Armstrong and Sandburg before the 1952 reading

A.J. Armstrong (left) and Carl Sandburg (right) before Sandburg’s 1952 reading at Waco Hall (Conger-Gildersleeve Collection, The Texas Collection)

Over the next thirty years, Sandburg would make an additional three visits to Baylor. Each time his stays were heralded as the coming of a great poet, and each time he offered his audience something new and innovative. By his third visit in 1932 Sandburg’s critically successful collection of American folk music, American Songbag (1927), was fully integrated into his performance and, in addition to reading poetry, he would sing from his collection to Baylor students during chapel (“Carl Sandburg Will Speak Here Friday” 1).

By his fourth visit in 1952, Sandburg had achieved an elder statesman status among American writers. During his final trip to Baylor, Sandburg used his last time before the student body to discuss the value of going into the world and experiencing life firsthand as opposed to vicariously living through pop culture, going so far as to critique one student who claimed to have sat through over 200 episodes of “The Jack Benny Show” (“Poet Slams TV, Movies, Radio” 1). As anarchistic as Sandburg’s criticism sounds to modern readers, his intent illustrates Dr. Armstrong’s ultimate goal in bringing writers like Sandburg to Baylor. Dr. Armstrong’s programs routinely brought Baylor’s students great writers from across the world. His intent was always to “give students an opportunity to come into contact with world forces and world geniuses” (Douglas 173). Sandburg’s time at Baylor surely exposed the students who came to see him to one of the greater geniuses and challenged them to see their lives in a new light.

Works Cited

“Carl Sandburg, Noted Poet, Coming Here for Reading on April 3.” The Daily Lariat 23 March 1925: 1. Web. 1 Dec. 2014

“Carl Sandburg Will Speak Here Friday.” The Daily Lariat 2 February 1932: 1. Web. 1 Dec. 2014

Douglas, Lois Smith. Through Heaven’s Back Door: A Biography of A. Joseph Armstrong.  Waco, TX:  Baylor UP, 1951. Print.

“Poet Slams TV, Movies, Radio.” The Daily Lariat 12 March 1952: 1. Web. 1 Dec. 2014

Posted in A.J. Armstrong, Andrew Joseph Armstrong, Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor English department, Baylor University, Carl Sandburg, Waco Hall | Leave a comment

The Conscience of Southern Baptists: Documenting Foy Valentine’s Work in Christian Ethics

foyvalentinepic

Foy Valentine, circa 1980s. Foy Valentine papers, Baylor University

From humble beginnings in Edgewood, Texas, to being considered the “conscience of Southern Baptists,” Foy Valentine was a prominent figure in Christian Ethics and Southern Baptist History. The Texas Collection is pleased to announce the opening of the Foy Valentine Papers for research.

Consisting of 249 boxes of materials, the largest series in the collection documents approximately 27 years of Valentine’s service in the Christian Life Commission (CLC), the social and ethical arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. His service in the commission coincided with tumultuous times and issues—civil rights in the 1960s, social morality in the 1970s, and perhaps the most contentious matter for Southern Baptists in the 1980s—the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Upon leaving the CLC in 1987, Valentine continued to work diligently in Southern Baptist and religious agencies. His service in the Baptist Joint Committee of Public Affairs, from 1953-1961, 1974; and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State in 1969-1987, 1990-1997, are only two of the ten religious agencies that are reflected in his papers. Among the closest to his heart was the founding of the Center for Christian Ethics and the publication, Christian Ethics Today. As founding editor for CET, Foy was able to continue his vocation in Christian education in the ethics.

Fifty years ago, Foy made the following statement:

While the present age has brought the nation an awe-inspiring technological advance, a superabundance of material comforts, and greatly increased leisure time, it has brought no corresponding improvement in the moral condition of the nation. We are deeply concerned that more than ten million Southern Baptists have utilized so little of their potential to reverse the moral decline in America. ~Christian Life Commission minutes, 1964 (Foy Valentine papers, Series I, Box 3 Folder 2)

Foy Valentine's notebook, 1

Inside cover of one of Valentine’s class notebooks while at Baylor University. Foy Valentine papers, Series V, Box 17, Folder 1.

Foy worked for the betterment of the moral condition his entire life. Even today, his influence is evident in the recently created (2013) Foy Valentine Endowed Professorship in Christian Ethics in the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. In many ways, Foy Valentine has come full circle—he graduated from Baylor in 1944 and came back to Baylor with his materials now open and available to researchers. We invite you all to make use of these newly released papers. This collection will interest anyone studying religion, but especially those interested in Southern Baptist history.

Posted in Baptist General Convention of Texas, Baptist history, Baylor University, BGCT, Race relations, Southern Baptist Convention, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Research Ready: November 2014

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here are November’s finding aids:

  • John M. Bronaugh papers 1862-1887 (#63):                                                                     Contains Bronaugh’s records from his time as Confederate surgeon for the 5th Texas Cavalry during the Civil War.
History Honors exam

How would you answer the questions on this test? This comprehensive history honors exam represents one of various subject exams from 1938-1941. BU records: Honors Program #BU/108 , box 2, folder 10.

    • Foy Valentine papers, 1918-2000 (#2948):                                                           Materials documenting the life of Foy Valentine, a leader in various Baptist organizations and Baptist philosophy on ethics.
    • [Waco] Veterans Administration Medical Center records, 1938, 1945-1982 (#2608):                                                                                                                 Photographs, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, and other materials about the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Waco, Texas.
    • Sarah C. Pier Wiley papers, 1838-1868 (#139):                                                     Includes letters, photographs, and a journal about life on the Texas home front during the Civil War.
Handwritten poem

It was popular in the mid-1800s to handwrite poems in the personal notebooks of friends and family. Here we see Sarah Pier’s grandmother dedicating a poem to her. What poems would you dedicate to your friends and family? Sarah C. Pier Wiley papers #139, box 1, folder 6.

Posted in 5th Texas Cavalry Regiment, American South, basketball, Baylor football, Baylor University, Civil War, Confederate States of America, First Baptist Church Robinson, football, Foy Valentine, John M. Bronaugh, McLennan County, Research Ready, Robinson, Sarah C. Pier Wiley, Sibley's Brigade, Slavery, sports cards, Texas Baptists, Uncategorized, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Woman pioneers | Leave a comment

Armstrong’s Stars: Amy Lowell

“Armstrong’s Stars” is a collaboration between the Armstrong Browning Library and Baylor’s Texas Collection. Once a month we feature a story about a celebrity that Dr. A.J. Armstrong brought to Baylor. These stories highlight an interesting part of Baylor’s history and include collection materials housed in both the Armstrong Browning Library and the Texas Collection. This month’s story was contributed by Ph.D. candidate Jeremy Land.

In 1920 Baylor began preparing for its Diamond Jubilee celebration. Primarily under the direction of Dr. A. Joseph Armstrong, Baylor invited a series of famous literary and cultural figures to travel to Texas and partake in the celebration. Among the first to arrive was the poet Amy Lowell.

By the early ‘20s Amy Lowell had already established herself as one of America’s leading female poets, an innovative writer, a noted critic, and promoter of American verse. Even the Lowell family name had become associated with academic excellence and American letters by the time Ms. Lowell accepted her honorary degree from Baylor (Amy Lowell’s brother was the president of Harvard and her first cousin, James Russell Lowell, was a famous American poet from the nineteenth century). Thus the decision to ask Ms. Lowell to come and speak at Baylor was a natural part of the university’s mission to bolster its presence in the academic world.

Amy Lowell photo (TC)
Before she even arrived, there seemed to be great anticipation and discussion about Ms. Lowell’s coming to Waco. Every aspect of her journey was up for speculation and debate. Even her hotel room, which was reported to cost more than $30 a night, caused quite a shock among the students on campus (“Another Treat in Amy Lowell” 1). Yet the promise of her appearance prompted several student groups to greet her with excitement. Baylor’s Calliopean, at the time the second oldest women’s literary society in Texas, honored Lowell with membership before she even arrived, an honor she was happy to receive (“Calliopeans Honor Famous American Poet” 3; “Calliopean Society Has Long History Behind It” 5).

When Lowell did finally arrive in Waco, she apparently lived up to people’s expectations. She was reported to be equal parts exciting house guest and engaging scholar. In one example of her irrepressible spirit, Lowell encouraged Mrs. Armstrong to speed through Cameron Park as fast as possible, and when Mrs. Armstrong suggested the police might object, Lowell is reported to have replied “Damn the police. I’ll pay the fine” (Douglas 114-115). However when it came time for Ms. Lowell to engage Baylor’s students and their academic pursuits, she was a most gracious and well received visitor. When she was not giving a formal lecture on the nature of modern poetry, she was reported to sit in the open air smoking a cigar and indulging undergraduates and their questions about modern literature.

Perhaps because her visit to Baylor must have been rather colorful, Amy Lowell developed a fondness for central Texas. In a letter to A.J. Armstrong dated April 11, 1924, Lowell claimed her poem “Texas” was inspired by Waco’s lone skyscraper (probably the ALICO building in downtown Waco ) set against the central Texas landscape (Douglas 116). And until her death in 1925, Lowell and Dr. Armstrong continued to write, share ideas, and reminisce about her time in Texas. So impressed was she by Baylor and Dr. Armstrong that even after her death her estate saw to it that Baylor and Dr. Armstrong both were notified of her passing (Death of Amy Lowell is Mourned by Many” 1).

Works Cited

“Another Treat in Amy Lowell.” The Lariat 3 June 1920: 1. Web. 7 Nov. 2014

“Calliopeans Honor Famous American Poet.” The Lariat 6 May 1920: 3. Web. 7 Nov. 2014

“Calliopean Society Has Long History Behind It.” The Lariat 20 May 1920: 5. Web. 7 Nov. 2014

“Death of Amy Lowell is Mourned by Many.” The Lariat 14 May 1925: 1. Web. 7 Nov. 2014

Douglas, Lois Smith. Through Heaven’s Back Door: A Biography of A. Joseph Armstrong.
Waco, TX: Baylor UP, 1951. Print.

Posted in A.J. Armstrong, Amy Lowell, Andrew Joseph Armstrong, Armstrong's Stars, Calliopean Literary Society, female poets, Waco | Leave a comment

Texas over Time: Pat Neff Hall, Baylor University, Waco

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph collection. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Pat Neff Hall construction

 Pat Neff Hall construction, 1939

  • Pat Neff Hall was started in 1938 (with a Masonic cornerstone laying ceremony on December 7, 1938) and completed in 1939. The building was dedicated on Founders Day 1940.
  • President Neff received an offer from the General Educational Board of a $50,000 gift to the university if an administration building was built to free up classroom space.
  • The 46,000 sq. ft. building was built in the American Georgian style, by Waco architectural firm Birch D. Easterwood and Son, at a cost of around $250,000.
  • The original carillon (the Cullen F. Thomas Carillon) was initiated on December 21, 1939, but dedicated at the same time as the hall. The original carillon cost $15,000 and consisted of 25 bells. Chronic mechanical failures eventually led to its replacement by the McLane Carillion, named for the Drayton McLane family of Temple. Cast in France by the prestigious Paccard Bell Foundry, the 48 bell carillon cost $325,000, and was dedicated at Homecoming 1988. Read more about the McLane Carillon and its circuitous route to Baylor.
  • The dome was originally stainless steel, making it the second stainless steel roof in the country, until gold leafing was put on in 2000.
  • The tradition of green lights of Pat Neff after athletic wins was started in 1978.

Source:

Henry, Jay C. Architecture in Texas, 1895-1945. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993. Print

BUSF: Buildings: Pat Neff Hall

BUSF: Buildings: Pat Neff Hall – Cullen F. Thomas Carillon

BUSF: Buildings: Pat Neff Hall – McLane Carillon

Check out our Pat Neff Hall construction Flickr set to see the individual photos (and a few more). GIF and factoids by student archives assistant Braxton Ray.

Posted in Baylor University, Cullen F. Thomas chimes, McLane Carillon, Pat Neff, Pat Neff Hall | Leave a comment

Research Ready: October 2014

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here are October’s finding aids:

Female Building at Baylor University, Independence, Texas, circa 1925

One of the earliest known photographs of the Baylor campus at Independence after the school moved to Belton and Waco. This structure, with four iconic columns, was built in 1857. Frank O. Martin Independence papers #3927, box 2 OVZ, folder 1.

 

Map of San Felipe, Texas, 1876

This map shows John Borden’s property in San Felipe, Texas. He and his brothers purchased several hundred acres in the Austin County region during this time. Borden Family Collection #724, box 1, folder 1.

Posted in Baptist universities and colleges, Baylor at Independence, First Baptist Church Robinson, Frontier and pioneer life, Independence, Independence columns, photographic negatives, Republic of Texas, Texas, Texas Baptists, Texas historic buildings, Uncategorized, Washington County Texas | Leave a comment

Baylor Football: A Look at Carroll Field

Exhibit by Sean Todd; post by Benna Vaughan

As the anticipation of the first Homecoming in the new McLane Stadium builds, be sure to visit the Texas Collection in the Carroll Library and check out the new exhibit on Lee Carroll Field: Early Athletic Traditions at Baylor University…where Baylor football began!

Photograph by Fred Gildersleeve of Lee Carroll Field, Baylor University

Photograph by Fred Gildersleeve of Lee Carroll Field, Baylor University, circa 1933

 

 

 

Posted in Baylor athletics, Baylor football, Baylor Homecoming, Carroll Field | Leave a comment

Texas over Time: The Alamo, San Antonio

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph collection. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Alamo

  • The original mission was built in 1718 as a Spanish mission by Father Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares but was then leveled in 1724 by a hurricane. The mission was moved to the present site and rebuilt in 1744 but collapsed due to structural flaws in 1762. It was rebuilt using the same material but never completed.
  • The building was supposed to have been three stories tall, with bell towers on each side, with a dome as a roof. The four arches to support the dome were completed, but later demolished to fortify for the battle. Protective walls were put around it in 1758 to ward off Native American violence. Secularized in 1793, it became known as simply Pueblo Valero.
  • In 1803, a Spanish cavalry unit (the Second Company of San Carlos de Alamo de Parras) occupied the pueblo, from which the present-day name of “the Alamo” is derived.
  • In 1836, the famous battle occurred, pitting Santa Anna’s 1,500 troops against the between 188-250 Texians in the Alamo. After Santa Anna ended up losing the war two months later, he ordered General Andrade to demolish the fort. He burned down the cannon ramp, long barracks, and most of the Galera.
  • In the years between the fire and the US Army coming, locals would use bricks from the Alamo as building materials, when needed. The humped parapet that is so iconic today was added when the Army remodeled the Alamo for use as a local headquarters.
  • When the Army abandoned the Alamo in 1878, it was given back to the Catholic Church. A businessman named Hugo Grenet almost immediately bought the restored long barrack building for $20,000, which he then converted into a store. The church building was given over to the State of Texas in 1883, who then transferred ownership to the City of San Antonio. The long barracks was sold to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in 1905. The store that Hugo Grenet had built on top of the site of the old long barracks was demolished in 1911, and the original wall was restored. The Alamo is presently a museum administered by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the Texas General Land Office.

Thompson, Frank T. The Alamo: A Cultural History. Dallas, Tex.: Taylor Trade Pub., 2001. Print

Check out our Flickr set to see these and other images of the Alamo, which primarily came from our General-San Antonio-Alamo photo files. GIF and factoids by student archives assistant Braxton Ray.

Posted in Alamo, Texas historic buildings, Texas over Time, Texas Revolution | Leave a comment