Thursday, August 27, 2009

Houston Street

You can't go to San Antonio, Texas and not go to the Alamo. Especially for John Wayne fans like ourselves. We were blessed to have a private two hour tour given to a group of us by a gentlemen who plays Jim Bowie and another gentlemen who is the historian for the Alamo. As always when you get it from the horses mouth, as the saying goes, a number of misconceptions dissolve. This chapel at the Alamo was missing the distinguishing capanulate or bell shaped facade at the time of the battle. It had no roof until 1850 when the US military added it along with the capanulate. I looked up the original design for the chapel on the internet and another set of columns would have been placed on top of the existing ones and a bell tower would have been placed on ends of the front side.

At this period of time, permanence drove the design of missions. As the nearby settlement grew, so did the mission and the first wooden structure was torn down and a stucco one built. Then when stone structures were under construction for a third, the uprising with Santa Anna occurred. A half finished church and a skirmish worn compound seems a fitting site for the battle for it wouldn't sit right somehow if the church was completed to its grand state and then half destroyed by the grape shot and cannon balls while being defended by a ragtag volunteer army.

We had gotten up early for a walk and to catch the early morning light reflecting off the stones. As no one was around except two of the guards who work shifts guarding the historic site. I engaged him in conversation. He told us some of the building's history and then entertained us with ghost stories. In fact, at two o'clock that morning he had been walking through the library when the hair on the back of his neck stood up.

It wasn't just the Alamo he said that was haunted but several of the hotels nearby. The old medical arts building built in 1924 across the street has been turned into a hotel, the Emily Morgan and it is claimed that ghosts roam its halls. I don't know if it is suppose to be someone or someones from the time it was a medical building or if the ghosts date back to the Alamo period. One of the walls of the Alamo, if still present, would run through the lobby area.

Another haunted hotel is the Gunter, built in 1909. That is where we were having the knife show and the most recent haunt that he knew about was several weeks ago in the Menger, built in 1859. A woman was sleeping and felt she was being straggle. She woke up, turned on the light, and no one was there so she called the police and they found straggle marks on her neck. Got goose bumps? Me neither but it was interesting talking to him.

Above the front door of the Alamo chapel.

The columns of the Alamo Chapel

This is the Emily Morgan Hotel, once the medical arts building, and after looking it up on the internet, I wished I'd brought my binoculars. There are Terra Cotta gargoyles depicting figures with various ailments, toothache etc. somewhere on the building. I missed that but I won't if I go back with Kirk next year. They may mistake me for a peeping Tom but I'm finding those gargoyles.

Since the building is a triangle, did the building or the street come first?

And here is an abandoned building just a block away and it too is a triangle though much skinnier. Note the Spanish roof and detailed carving around the door. My curiosity is itching to know how they laid out the hallways and rooms in a building with this shape.

I can't tell you what was in the shops on the ground floors on Houston street. I think I spent the whole time with my head thrown back gazing skyward as I studied the sides of the buildings.

Can you blame me. You rarely see this kind of ornate architecture.

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