SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Texas laid out a plans on Wednesday for a facelift of its most-visited tourist site, the Alamo, that includes a major overhaul of the plaza surrounding it and a more delicate renovation of the iconic building.
Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, whose office controls the San Antonio site considered by many as a shrine to Texas independence, said the state legislature has allocated $32 million to begin the process and expects private donations to pour in for the renovation.
"The time has come to create a future for the Alamo which is as proud and as purposeful as its past," Bush, the son of Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, told a news conference.
Texas State Representative Diego Bernal, a former member of the San Antonio city council whose district contains the Alamo, said he is tired of hearing visitors being "underwhelmed."
The building and plaza are on a busy street in downtown San Antonio, surrounded by city traffic, hotels, and tourist shops.
"After years and years of that we decided we can do better, and give this place the kind of reverence which is its due," he said.
The plans for the Alamo, which include repairing the famous facade of the 250 year-old building, call for building a major museum to house hundreds of artifacts from the 1836 battle between Texan and Mexican forces.
The Alamo's vastly outnumbered defenders were routed by Mexican forces in a 13-day siege but the battle became a rallying point for the Texas forces, who defeated the Mexican Army a few weeks later.
Rocker Phil Collins, considered the pre-eminent private collector of Alamo artifacts, last year turned over the vast majority of his holdings for a display at the Alamo.
San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor says a city commission is currently working on putting together a master plan for the Alamo and the Plaza, which were declared U.N. World Heritage Sites this year.
Bush said the renovated Alamo will not only tell the story of the Texas Revolution and the famous battle, but the entire scope of the history of the Americas, from the Native Americans to the arrival of Spanish, Mexican, African-American, and other settlers in the area.
Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Lisa Lambert