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Before you read further, I’d like to ask you to do one quick thing. Ready? OK. Imagine the Alamo.

You probably thought about the Shrine of Texas Liberty, or the Battle of the Alamo or the iconic little stone building downtown. Even if you’ve never actually visited, you can probably picture it. Most of us have a pretty good notion of what the Alamo resembles now, and a vague, Hollywood-formed idea of its 1836 appearance during the battle immortalized in Texas history and legend.

If you’re keen on Texas lore, you may go further, and visualize what the Alamo might look like if you razed all the neighboring buildings and recreated the throes of conflict 180 years past. An endeavor of this magnitude has been advanced and shelved several times, but these days, such a sweeping reconstruction is in the works, since the state, the city and the private Alamo Endowment are raising many millions to finally act on an ambitious Alamo Master Plan.

This time, something big is guaranteed to happen. It will take several years to do things right. It probably won’t involve reconstructing the entire compound, and while it will focus on the Battle of the Alamo, it will encompass much more.

This go-round, the folks who will design the changes in Alamo Plaza aren’t just imagining the Alamo ­— they are reimagining — incorporating the most familiar images into a broader picture, starting with what was here even before the Alamo was established as a Spanish mission. It’s about understanding how the Alamo, the priests, and later the soldiers, came here, changed life for the natives, and became part of the fabric of San Antonio. It’s even about how the building itself altered, and how downtown and thriving businesses grew around the crumbling fortress and almost swallowed it, until the Daughters of the Republic of Texas took a stand to protect and maintain it.

DRT deserves much credit for its dedicated work, but the Daughters could never have mustered the kind of wallop the current partnership of city, state and private donors bring to the table. Today, the Alamo and the four other Spanish missions are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Alamo has the most complex history.

I really believe something fine is afoot after talking to folks who have been involved with the Alamo Plaza Advisory Committee since it was formed in 2014, attending the first Alamo Master Plan public meeting, studying reimaginethealamo.org and watching YouTube videos of fascinating daily briefings on a recent archaeological dig.

The comprehensive project’s first draft won’t be ready until next spring; the current timeline has construction starting in 2021. It’s likely the three landmark historic structures across the plaza from the

Alamo and the beautiful old post office building at the north end will remain, with a visitors’ center, museums and exhibits housed in some of them.

I’m hoping the street in front of the Alamo will close, enlarging the plaza and making it more walkable. Planners say accessibility remains a key. At the first Master Plan public session Aug. 2, George Skarmeas, whose firm Preservation Design Partnership was selected to integrate and organize the project, assured us there wouldn’t be an admission charge for the Alamo. He also predicted people will visit in timed groups, instead of just wandering in off the street, to prevent crowding.

Skarmeas stressed how public engagement is critical. The Alamo is still profoundly emotional for many. Check out reimaginethealamo.org. Listen to all the presentations you’ll find there. Get involved, and let me know what you imagine.

syerkes@localcommunitynews.com

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