The museum expert who has overseen the nonprofit steward of the Alamo for nearly three years is planning to step down in early fall.

Douglass McDonald, CEO of Alamo Trust Inc., will not renew his current contract, which expires Sept. 30, according to a news release Tuesday from Alamo officials. The nonprofit’s board has formed a search committee to find a successor for McDonald, who has managed the Texas shrine on behalf of the Texas General Land Office (GLO), its owner.

McDonald has guided Alamo Trust through an often-tumultuous $450 million redevelopment plan that’s now in its first phase of work.

“It has been a true honor to serve at one of the most important historic sites in the world,” McDonald said in a prepared statement Tuesday. “I came to Texas believing this is one of the most important projects in the United States and that the history told here should be told correctly in a world-class setting.”

Since August 2017, McDonald has been a key figure in the plan to preserve the Alamo’s Church and Long Barrack, restore more of the footprint of the historic battlefield, and create a museum that tells the story of the site and the pivotal moment in 1836 when Texas revolutionaries fought to repel an invading Mexican Army.

“Doug began his work at the Alamo almost [three] years ago,” said Welcome Wilson Jr., chair of the Alamo Trust board, in a prepared statement. “During this time, he has managed a complicated project and has overseen the Alamo during unprecedented times.”

After the City approved the Alamo Master Plan in 2018, archaeological work began in late 2019 at the Church and Long Barrack. The uncovering of human remains there led to lawsuits from groups claiming to be descendants of Native Americans and Texan fighters who died at the site, who want more say over the treatment of the remains.

Moving the Cenotaph, a 1930s monument to the Alamo defenders, to a new location 500 feet south has sparked controversy and protests from various groups of descendants and self-proclaimed defenders of the historic site. After a decision to move the monument was approved last November, the Texas Historical Commission in January delayed the move claiming it needed more information and alternate relocation sites. A decision is still pending.

The Alamo Trust board and GLO are launching a “wide-ranging search for new leadership who will help us emphasize Texas’ struggle for independence, telling the story of heroism and bravery at the Alamo to the world,” the release states.

McDonald, a former president and CEO of the Cincinnati Museum Center, said he plans to travel, raise cattle on his farm, and spend time with his family.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished and believe in the vision of the Alamo Plan and all it will do for Texas,” McDonald said.

Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons is a former senior reporter at the San Antonio Report. He serves as the assistant manager of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance.