The Alamo is the most famous building in Texas. The sacrifice of about 200 defenders in March 1836 marks the place as a monument to freedom and independence. Some 2.5 million folks tour the structure every year. Future visitors may get an even better experience.
In August, the Texas Historical Commission and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (the Alamo’s custodians) unveiled a new master plan, the first such blueprint in 28 years. It includes preservation of the historic chapel and Long Barrack buildings, acquisition of some surrounding land and the construction of a new library and auditorium. Interactive multimedia exhibits will be added to the educational presentations. In effect, the Alamo will step into the 21st century while maintaining its past.
The price tag: $60 million. There’s no deadline for raising the money, although efforts are already underway. Some of the work may be completed by next summer.
Alamo officials say the project is the biggest thing to happen to the place since it was saved from being converted to a hotel in 1903. 210-225-1391 • thealamo.org
Buffalo Bill Online
The Buffalo Bill Historical Center (BBHC) in Cody, Wyoming, is also moving into the future. Staff has begun organizing, digitizing and editing historical materials related to the legendary showman.
The Wyoming legislature approved $600,000 for the project in February—provided that the BBHC could raise a similar amount. That goal was met in August after the Dellenbach Family Foundation contributed $200,000.
Now the work begins. The Buffalo Bill papers are equivalent to 50 four-drawer filing cabinets worth of documents. Eventually, everything will be published online—a major boost for researchers and fans alike. 307-587-4771 • bbhc.org
Order in the Court(house)
The Dallas County Courthouse in Texas has seen some shaky times.
Built in 1892, the building was headed to the wrecking ball in 1938 and 1946—but the city fathers had second thoughts. “Old Red”—so named because of its brick composition—stood, pretty much unused for the past 20-some years.
A preservation group formed in the late 1980s began restoration efforts in 2001. Workers built a replica of the original 90-foot tall clock tower and the cast-iron staircase. The total cost of the project was just over $51 million; donations made up $14.5 million, while the rest of the funds came from local and state government.
This past May, Old Red reopened as a museum of Dallas County history and culture. 212-745-1100 • oldred.org
Where’s the Train?
The “Spirit of Washington” Dinner Train is back on track—a different track.
Since 1992, the train has carried passengers on a roughly three-hour trip from Renton, Washington, through the mountains and back. But highway construction tore down a trestle on the route and threatened the future of the “Spirit.”
Subscriber Howard Peretti in Burien notified us, having heard the worst, that the train had stopped running completely. Rest assured, Howard, owner Eric Temple wasn’t having any of that. He worked out a deal with the city of Tacoma. The train now runs from that city to Lake Kapowsin, with great views of Mount Rainier throughout the trip. To see if it’s a smooth ride, the train will run for a 10-month test period. 800-876-RAIL • spiritofwashingtondinnertrain.com
Texas Meets Mexico
After five years—and $4.4 million—the newly renovated Museum of the Big Bend has opened at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas.
The 18,000-square foot facility focuses on the history, archaeology and culture of the Big Bend Region, along the Rio Grande, near West Texas and the Mexican border. Its various collections will help researchers investigate the area’s heritage.
The project was a cooperative venture between state and local governments, the university and local residents.