COLLEGE STATION – One battle at the Alamo is long since over, but another is on-going –battling age-related deterioration – and a Texas A&M University conservation team is leading a high-tech counter attack.

The goal is to help ensure that future generations of Texans, as well as others from throughout the nation and around the world, will have the opportunity to experience meaningful visits to the shrine that symbolizes Texas’ battle for independence more than 175 years ago. Otherwise, the famous “Remember the Alamo” battle cry could take on new meaning. 

The project, supported financially by the Ewing Halsell Foundation and administered by the Texas General Land Office, is being led by Professor of Architecture Robert Warden, who serves as director of Texas A&M’s Center for Heritage Conservation. He is joined by several Texas A&M graduate students in architecture, professors and students from Texas A&M University at Kingsville, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

"This kind of groundbreaking preservation project at the Alamo is long overdue," said Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office and a 1970 Texas A&M graduate. "The data gained will be vital to ensuring the Alamo remains an icon of Texas history and personal freedom for future generations."

The Texas A&M team is creating digital models of the Alamo—models that will be useful in coping with the Alamo’s erosion from rainwater and the effects on the structure from heat and cold.  That includes scanning and recording imaging data with sophisticated equipment that yields highly detailed 2- and 3-D models when entered into computer-aided design software.

“We’re using texts, drawings and photographs, if they’re available, to create the models,” said Warden, who indicated he will return to the Alamo periodically during the coming months for additional data gathering.

The team also is creating digital models of the Alamo as it existed in 1836, the year of the historic battle; in 1885, when the city of San Antonio became the site’s custodian; and 1961, when detailed drawings of the site were created by the Historic American Buildings Survey.

The database will help the Alamo’s conservator, Pam Rosser, keep track of preservation work and maintenance issues at the site, Warden noted.

“This project is providing valuable pieces of the Alamo’s history that are known and newly discovered,” Rosser said. “This is an exciting preservation time at the Alamo.”

The Center for Heritage Conservation was established at Texas A&M in 2005 as a professional entity for interdisciplinary research and service projects on all aspects of built and natural heritage. Officials there emphasize it is building on the university’s long-standing recognition for academic and research programs dedicated to the better understanding of sites that figure prominently in the historic legacy of Texas as well as other parts of the nation and elsewhere.